Music, from times immemorial, has remained the most important medium of expression of human emotions. Kashmir, Mathura and Benaras, in the bygone times, were prominent centres for learning art. Due to ravages of time all the written evidence regarding the kind, type and form of music prevalent in Kashmir in the distant past has perished. We can only surmise about the notations and grammar of music which was prevalent that time. The task of preparing a comprehensive historiography on music of Kashmir has thus remained a difficult one.
However, some styles of music and singing e.g. temple Sangeet, Shiv Gayan and traditional folk music survived the upheavals and persisted to interest on account of their sentimental appeal and emotional attachment. These styles of music are continuing even now as a distinct genre and as a tradition of Kashmir. There are also stray references in old classics like Nilamatpurana, Rajatarangini etc.
‘The Traditional Music of Kashmir–in relation to Indian classical music’. by Prof. Sunita Dhar fills an important gap in preparing an authentic historiography of music of Kashmir. It is the first serious attempt to study the extant forms of music in a historical prospective. The advantage of being an ‘Insider’ has imparted a touch of originality to the work. Presently, Prof. Dhar is Dean of the Faculty of Music and Fine Arts at Delhi University. She has been trained by Padmabushan Pandit Debu Chandhuri.
Songs sung by women
Vanvun, a prayer in the form of music has played a leading role in maintaining the continuity of our culture. Its subjects refer to the events of vedic period. It preserves our faith in spiritual and ancient beliefs. Vanvun, Veegya Vacchan, Hikat and Vaan are songs sung by women folk of Kashmir. The author divides Vanvun during ‘mekhal’ (Janev) and marriage ceremony into ten categories–Garnavaya (house leaning and washing), Dapun (personal invitation of guests for the approaching function), Manzirath (heena dye and night singing), Kroor (after a white wash flowery decoration at the main door), Shran (sitting on stool and dropping milk, curd and bathing), Devgun (welcome to vedic gods), Varidan (gifts to the relatives), Yonya (holy fire), Tekya Narivan (holy mark on the forehead and sacred thread tied around the wrist), Kalash Lava (after the worship of Kalash, sprinkling of water). Dr Dhar provides samples, along with meaning, on all these forms of Vanvun. She traces the vedic origin of such customs like wearing of Kalpusha-taranga by Kashmiri women, Zarkasaya, Veegya Vacchan. For example, in vedic period, when Goddess Sinnavali’s (one of the thirteen wives of Sage Kashyapa) marriage was performed, God Poosha had prepared a beautiful headguear to, decorate her head. This was called ‘Kapal-apush’ in Sanskrit. Lord Indra, beautifying it further, had wrapped a white strip of cloth around it. This custom is followed today by Kashmiris as a routine. ‘Kalpush’ in Kashmiri, is ‘Kapal-apush’ in Sanskrit. The white twinkling strip is ‘Tarang-Kor’ in Kashmiri. While putting on this head gear, ladies sing to bride.
‘Pooshan Thovnaya Sinnavali Devi
Cheh Koori Thovnaya mael maleh’
Meaning: Vedic God Pushan himself prepared ‘Kapal-apush’ and decorated it for the head of Sinnavali, but in your case, your father and mother have put it on your head.
‘Zarkasaya’ (mundan) has originated from Jatanishkasan in Sanskrit, i.e. removing hair and making the child bald. Devgun has originated from ‘devagaman’ in Sanskrit, which means the arrival of God. ‘Veegya Vacchan’ has originated from a vedic word, ‘vishesh yog vacchan‘, i.e. to be sung on a special occasion. In this vanvun, bridegroom or the boy whose ‘Yagneopavit is being performed stand on Vyug, a round shaped drawing designed with different colours.
‘Ruf’ an emotional type of folk dance is sung during spring. It is mentioned in Nilmatapurana. According to Prof. Dhar it might have originated from ‘dwarf dance’, of Vedic language. In Vedic language, it means a bee, which further developed as Ruf. Earlier, even Vaksh of Lalleshwari were sung in question-answer form in the ‘Ruf’.
“Hikat” is a form of ‘raas’. Reference to it is found in writings of Bhatt Avatar. Nund Rishi too was acquainted with it. This has originated from ‘hi-krit’, i.e. any piece of work done Joyfully.
‘Vaan’ singing is performed during occasions of grief. In olden days, an old professional singer, ‘Vangarinya’ in Kashmir used to visit on the day of the death. He would enquire about the names of the ancestors and family members etc. and sing till the tenth day.
Lalnavun is a type of folk song and is based on Vatsalaya Ras. During medieval times Muslims styled their Vanvun singing as different from Hindus. In Vanvun of Kashmiri Hindus a medium tone is used and there is no element of tribal music in it. In Muslim Vanvun fast tone is used. The quantity of Hindu Vanvun poetry is much more than that of Muslims. The latter divide themselves into two groups; one group sings a line, which is repeated by the other. They generally sing standing. A similar type of group singing is prevalent in Kumaon and Garhwal hills.
Courtesy by: koshur.org