Coronavirus: Kashmir Goes Artistic To Fight Pandemic

 by Saima Bhat

SRINAGAR: Music in Kashmir is emerging as an important tool in the battle against the pandemic, currently engulfing the world. Invoking art in making people comprehend the Corona crisis and spread the message, people in Kashmir have joined hands to raise awareness campaigns about the Covid-19 pandemic, musically.

An initiative to spread awareness of taking precautions and possible hazards, the list of the people involved in this practice ranges from professional singers, stand up comedians, satirists, actors, and even senior government officers.

One of the senior police officers and incumbent SSP Ramban, Haseeb Ur Rehman dedicated a song to the Covid heroes. A remarkable gesture, Haseeb’s song in his voice ‘Meray Maula Karam Ho Karam’ has introductory words with a spiritual message, “Dawa se ziyada dua asar karti hai, halaat mushkil hi sahi magar hamare hoasle kabhi kum nahi honge.”

Shared widely, his colleagues in the department had a word of appreciation for the officer. “The mellifluent voice of Haseeb Rehman SSP Ramban, my batchmate. God speed,” wrote SSP Imtiyaz Hussain.

Having served at important positions, Haseeb in his 2.18-minute song has urged people to stay home and pray for the people in the field including doctors, sanitation workers, and policemen.

Raja Bilal, a known Kashmiri singer’s song “Yaeli Aaesi zindagani bae aes karaw mulaaqat” (If we surivibve, we shall meet again) is resonating in the homes with the feeling of hope.

When people talk over the phone, the lyrics are shared as words of hope.

With these songs, there is a sense of optimism. “As I listened to these songs, I felt uplifted, optimistic and motivated,” said Dr Mehnaz adding “this gives hope that we will fight the virus as a community.”

Famous comedian and satirist of Kashmir, Nazir Josh, a household name in Kashmir known for his character Ahad Raaze has also come out with his message in his unique solo performance on the deadly virus. In his video performance of 3.45 minutes, he has urged people to take necessary precautions. Named as ‘Hooshyaar-Khaberdaar, a production of Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art Culture & Languages (JKAACL), the song written and directed by Josh himself has been recorded under the supervision of Munir-Ul Islam, secretary JKAACL.

Another song recorded under the supervision of Islam and sung by Kashmir’s celebrated singer Waheed Jeelani invokes faith is doing rounds in the social media. “Yi doad kaasi Khodah” (God will cure this sickness) filmed in the background of holy cities of Makkah and Medina, other shrines of the valley and workers involved in fighting the battle is written by Shahnaz Rashid. It has words of hope “tomorrow we would be able to move again.”

Talking about the initiatives, Lubna, a doctor by profession said, “Art is useful to reach people and it acts as stress buster,” adding in stressful times music is a big relief and tool to inspire.

Adil Manzoor, son of a famous singer Manzoor Shah also recorded a song about the possible precaution to stay safe. “Wizi wizi saebani aeth phitraaw, zuv bachraaw zuv bachraaw. Poandi tchasi tchantis palwa thaw, zuv bachraw zuv bachraw (Wash continuously your hands with soap and save yourself. While coughing or sneezing cover your mouth and save yourself).

In an attempt to create awareness, JKAACL took an initiative and roped in various artists to record the songs. The first song out was “Traw Nerun Te Pherun Watan Baya” (Stop moving around brother).

With restrictions on movements in place and the fear of virus looming at large, the constraint is taking adverse toll, psychologically. But music is emerging out as a source to express the pain and also spread awareness. It also helps in lifting the community spirits and remain people to look after each other while maintain social distancing.

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