Trained In Different Fields, Two Srinagar Sisters Are Tied Together By Art

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by Tasavur Mushtaq

SRINAGAR: As Kashmir witnessed the first snowfall of New Year, 2021, life went out of the gear completely. The snow falling on trees and terraces of the houses saw the wobbly rooftops being collapsed. Besides, other winter vulnerabilities, connectivity emerged as the major issue, both in urban and rural Kashmir. However, amid, hazards of the white blanket, there was a scene of excitement as well.

Qurat-ul-Ain Zohra and Aiman Zohra busy giving finishing touches to a snow sculpture they made to honour frontline Covid-19 workers. The photograph was taken at their Srinagar, home on Sunday, January 10, 2021. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Caught in their homes, idle and immobile, there was an urge to express the joy and give vent to the creative energy. A thrill for the artist, resultantly, social media was flooded with pictures of snow sculptures of animals, furniture, snowmen, caves, cars, igloos, and a variety of other related things. Some even linked with the state of human rights.

But in Srinagar’s Athwajan, there was a different scene. In between snow and sufferings, the residence of Ghulam Nabi Rather had a line of visitors in their lawn.

Different from the rest, the centre of attraction was related to the pandemic, a tribute in the snow to the Corona warriors. A snow sculpture having models of a lady doctor wearing a stethoscope, a syringe loaded with Covid vaccine, and the acronym of World Health Organisation (WHO).

Beautifully done, the heartwarming snow sculpture has been made by two sisters, Dr Quratul Ain Zohra and Aiman Zohra, supported by their mother Farida Mir.

 The Idea 

The two sisters, professionally trained one as a doctor and another as a lawyer, are passionate about the art. Willing to express their feelings in an artistic form, they jointly as a family affair convey messages every year through the snow. The subject depends upon the situation. This year, as the pandemic is taking the toll, the artist in them is inclined to express gratitude to people fighting against the invisible enemy.

“Almost for a year now, we are facing the Covid threat and everybody is trying to save the skin, but doctors are the ones who despite the risk attended their job well and put back the fight,” Dr Qurat, the elder of the two sisters told Kashmir Life. “Everyone has a role, but doctors are the ones we go and seek solace from in these difficult circumstances. They are the ones who touch patients without giving a thought about the presence of the virus.”

Two sisters Qurat-ul-Ain Zohra and Aiman Zohra along with their parents after they finished their snow sculpture to honour health workers and their fight against COVID-19, after a heavy snowfall, outside their residence in Srinagar, Sunday, January 10, 2021. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

In their art, however, the two sisters have sculpted a lady doctor, which they say is to pay “special tribute to women involved in this fight and also highlight the role and importance of women in the society.” The syringe in the art they say is the “ray of hope to end this pandemic.”

Emphasizing to uplift the culture and tradition of the place, Qurat said, they always seek to promote the culture of Kashmir in their artwork and otherwise as well.

This is not the only thing they have done. In 2016, when schools were shut, Qurat said, she along with her sister and few other friends started a community school for children, where they tried to compensate the educational losses of children.

The Journey

Belonging to a business family, the two sisters are in love with the art. Born and brought up in an art-loving family, they said the “art is in their genes.” However, formally, Qurat is trained as a doctor and Aiman as an advocate.

Talking to Kashmir Life about their journey, after completing her schooling from Woodland’s House school Srinagar, Qurat has done her Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) from government medical college Srinagar and is now pursuing a Masters degree in hospital administration from SKIMS, Srinagar. Her younger sister, Aiman has completed her Law degree from the University of Kashmir and is currently practising as a lawyer.

Living in a family of five, they have two brothers as well. One is a trained engineer and the other is a journalist who has done his internship in Delhi with Dainik Jagran.

The Twist

As they say, the profession and passion can at times collide, but the two sisters have struck the balance, comfortably. As one is pursuing masters and hospital administration and the other is practising law, the distinctly placed two sisters and a common thread. They are the valley’s known makeup artists, famous as Makeup by Zohra.

Sharing their journey of pursuing a passion, they said, “art was something they have been born and brought up with.” “Our parents have artistic bent of mind and they have inculcated the same in us.

But how, they managed to emerge as a brand in bridal makeup in an interesting story. Sharing details, Qurat said, since childhood, they had a sense of art and aesthetics. As they proceeded in their life with different lines of the profession, art remained there.

“After completion of my bachelor’s, I had free time, so decided to do something and art was the first choice, so we started an online platform, Makeup by Zohra,” said Qurat, a life member of Indian Red Cross Society.

When asked why they don’t choose art in the first place, the societal consideration was the response. “See in our society, it is believed doctors and engineers are best, so we did that as well, but then pursued our passion vigorously,” she said and added, “Like everything, it is a gift of God which we have explored to our best.”

Working as freelance makeup artists, the two sisters have a page on Instagram, their only address. They felt the need to fill the gap of growing demand. “When we started this platform, there was a huge demand with few people in the field. This helped us to express our aesthetic sense and made important occasions of brides beautiful.”

The need to come with this option, Qurat said was to give a platform for all. “It is believed that makeup is for elite class only, but we tried to make it possible for all.” Class, she said is not a criterion.

Giving details, she said, they decide as per the requirement of the bride. “It normally ranges from Rs 10 – 12 thousand for an average makeup.”

The art, she believes, is as competitive as other fields. “One requires to be in touch with the latest trends across the globe and study the latest things and ensure it goes right as per the place, people and culture.”

“We don’t believe in showing before and after pictures, as we always try to go with the natural look and help brides looking better naturally.

In Covid, they have worked as well. “We did makeup in Covid but with proper protective gear. That was possibly the time to understand what doctors are going through wearing the gear for the whole day and night.”

The journey, they said has not been smooth, but they have fought it well. “Given the mental setup, there is always people talking, but then you have to overcome obstacles to achieve what you want” “Ultimately, what all matters is the peace of mind,” she added.

Using the platform, they have also organised a few events to help people in need. One such event was organised at SSM College of engineering. A programme titled, “Just-U-JU” was held in aid of critically ill and differently able kids with special needs.

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