Kashmiri poets, young artists and language activists have gone hi-tech to preserve and promote Kashmiri language and also “sing songs of their own”.
“It is high time to have access to education in a language that we learn and understand,” noted Kashmiri poet and satirist, Zareef Ahmad Zareef told Greater Kashmir.
He said cultural and linguistic diversity was important but the focus in Kashmir should be on promoting and preserving the mother tongue first.
“It is so overwhelming when you sing and hear songs in your own language,” he said.
President Adbee Markaz Kamraz (AMK), Jammu and Kashmir, Muhammad Amin Bhat said that since Kashmiri language had attained the status of official language, there was a greater responsibility on part of the people as well as official functionaries.
Bhat said that they held a workshop on ‘Kashmiri Script Writing’ for working journalists who despite earning their livelihood through the medium of other languages always remain at the forefront of promoting and preserving their mother tongue – Kashmiri.
Founder Jhelum Café Adil Khan said that they had been organising ‘Bund Sessions’ or ‘Jhelum Fest’ to promote local art, artists and Kashmiri language.
“Bund sessions is an initiative by the Jhelum Cafe to support the artists of Kashmir belonging to various genres of art like music, spoken word, poetry, standup comedy and performing arts,” Khan said. “We often host poetry events at the cafe. A lot of popular names including like Zareef Ahmad Zareef, Zeeshan Jaipuri and Syed Murad Gilani have been associated with these events that also provide a platform to new and upcoming artists to showcase their talent.”
Many young artists and musicians are collaborating with prominent brands and labels to sing songs in Kashmiri language and doing their bit in popularising the native language.
Recently, famous folk singer, Noor Muhammad of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, who is often seen singing with Rabab, signed a contract with Sony Music.
His song, Janaan, written and composed by Irfan Bukhari was produced by Renzu films became an instant hit.
“Singing our songs and noticing them getting an instant hit is the biggest relief for an artist,” said Noor Muhammad.
Several young artists and performers belonging to poetry, music, satire and humour including Ali Saiffudin, Yawar Abdal, Hashim Rather, Sufiyan Rouf, Ishfaq Kawa and others take to online platforms to popularise Kashmiri language, poetry and music.
Artists representing Kashmir Rabab Academy (KRA) are also taking every possible step to rope in artists and poets to popularise Kashmiri language.
“We are working hard to create a place of expression for the people of Kashmir and break stereotypes. At KRA, we have a safe online space where artists from Mumbai, Kolkata, Peshawar, Kabul and others places share music,” KRA co-founder Abid Rashid said.
Former Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages (JKAACL) and poet Aziz Hajini said that the video recording of some of his Kashmiri poems along with the English translation was scheduled to be presented at Jaipur Literature Festival 2021.
“Multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages which transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way, and we are trying our best to take Kashmiri language to the next level,” he said.
Prominent singer and cultural activist, Waheed Jeelani said, “Without language, one cannot talk to people and understand them. One cannot share their hopes and aspirations.”
The idea to celebrate ‘International Mother Language Day’ was the initiative of Bangladesh.
It was approved at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference and has been observed throughout the world since 2000.
According to UNESCO, there is importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable societies.
It is within its mandate for peace that it works to preserve the differences in cultures and languages that foster tolerance and respect for others.