Syed Areej Safvi. (HT Photo)
Syed Areej Safvi. (HT Photo)

Meet 25-year-old Syed Areej Safvi, first Ladishah girl from Kashmir

Syed Areej Safvi is the first woman in Kashmir to write and perform Ladishah – a form of satire in verse, making commentaries on social and political conditions in the society. It is a type of folk ballad with humour forming an essential part of its presentation.
By Ashiq Hussain | Hindusatn Times, Srinagar
UPDATED ON NOV 25, 2020 10:10 PM IST

For hundreds of years, Kashmir’s Ladishah, a form of folk genre, was dominated by men till modernity and militancy in the valley triggered its decline. Now a woman has emerged on the scene and caught the imagination of youth.

Syed Areej Safvi, 25, has apparently become the first woman in Kashmir to write and perform Ladishah – a form of satire in verse, making commentaries on social and political conditions in the society. It is a type of folk ballad with humour forming an essential part of its presentation.

Areej was introduced to this cultural form when she saw Ladishah being broadcast every Sunday on an Urdu TV news channel. It was penned by Kashmiri journalist Rajesh Raina and performed by Rajendra Tikoo. Apart from her love for Kashmir culture and language, the immediate trigger to write and perform Ladishah herself was brought after the constitutional changes which nullified the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August last year.

“I always wanted to do something for Kashmir and its culture and language. I love listening to Ladishah personally. Mostly I would follow Rajendra Tikoo ji performing Ladishah every Sunday. And I wrote my first Ladishah in December 2019 on PSA (Public Safety Act) being used against Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti,” Areej said.

“Ladishah has social messaging. It is an alternative opinion about issues in the society and I am very passionate about this and want to do more on public speaking and social activism,” she said.

Ladishah is traditionally performed on stage, in street plays wearing traditional dress like a turban and playing an instrument with hands – a small thin iron rod with iron rings which would make a ringing sound. The person would sing critical commentaries using a comical tone and tenor to bring home the point while taking on the establishment or the people. Areej has adopted the content along with the tone and tenor but does not use the instrument so far.

While the traditional Ladishah used the platforms of open stage, theatre and then TV and radio, Areej uploaded her videos on her YouTube channel, occasionally wearing a traditional Karakuli cap over her headgear. The videos are becoming popular among the youth.

“After I uploaded the videos, I realised that I am the first female to do this. Iwas expecting a huge backlash but on the contrary I got huge support. There have been hate messages, people who try to pull me down but usually I ignore them,” she said.

Areej, a resident of Old City’s Alamgari Bazar, graduated in humanities and is pursuing post graduation in psychology. From the very beginning she says that she has been interested in writing, particularly Urdu language and poetry. She has been commenting on issues and writing Gazals before dwelling into the genre of Ladishah.

Her themes are not only social but even political, criticising not only society but even the establishment. She has performed Ladishah on arrest of journalists, 4G internet ban, VPN, women’s issues, extravagance in marriages, among others. The only child of her parents, she said that her father and mother have been supportive but there are people in the extended joint family who are not comfortable with her choice.

“It needs huge courage and patience to do anything in our society. I love this so nothing can stop me. There are people who are not okay with what I am doing but I am trying to convince them about my choice,” she said.

She said that she was getting messages from youngsters particularly women. “There are people who now say that if she can do this we can also pursue our choices. There have been women who texted me and said: ‘Thank you very much, now our parents also think that we can do whatever we like’,” she said.

ZareefAhmad Zareef, a 77-year-old satirical poet of Kashmir who retired as cultural officer of J&K government, said that he had only witnessed men performing Ladishah.

“I had not seen any woman in Ladishah till now. It is a forward movement. Ladishah has been a traditional character of Kashmir culture and if Areej really wants to turn her interest into an art, if a new chapter of this art form has to begin, she has to wholeheartedly adopt this, including its instrument,” he said.

Those associated with writing Ladishah say that it had gone into oblivion due to the situation in Kashmir valley. Zareef, who has been writing Ladishah for Doordarshan and theatre before the militancy erupted in the valley in 1989, said that the art form has been in decline.

“Before militancy, we used to have drama as well as Ladishah regularly at Tagore Halland also at drama clubs in old city,” he said.

He said that Ladishah has been part of Band Pather – folk theatre of Kashmir performed in open spaces even during the time when Kashmir was ruled by Maharajas. “Band Pather with its live performance and special costumes used to be a form of entertainment for the kings and commons from old times. And when there was a need for a break during the performance, a Ladishah would come out to present its solo performance,” he said.

He said that Ladishahs were critical but full of humour. “If people wanted to convey their problems to the king, Ladishah would present it humorously so that it makes him aware of the issue but does not annoy him at the same time,” he said.

He said that Ladishahs would go from village to village and visit the city to perform.“In villages, he would be given rice while in cities he would get some bucks for his performance,” he said.

Some cultural experts say that Ladishah was hundreds of years old and was impromptu.

Dr Rafiq Masoodi, former secretary cultural academy and former additional director general Doordarshan, said that Ladishah is the purest form of Kashmiri folklore.

“As per experts like MY Taing, Ladishah is over 1500 years old. It is all unscripted like Wanwun (Kashmiri women singing rhythmically on special occasions like Eid),” he said.

He said that it was part of Bhand Pather but later progressed as it developed its own costume.“Ladishah would visit from door to door and compose his creation on the spot depending on the surroundings and then collect offerings. That has been the beauty of Ladishah,” he said.

However, he believes that it should not be modified to make it modern. “Acting should not be mixed in it. Things get lost after mixing,” he said. “I saw Areej performing and gave her my blessings. I also gave her some suggestions which she accepted,” he said.

Some feel that the reach of new technology is helping these types of traditional practices to reach youth.

RajeshRaina, 49, a senior journalist who has been writing Ladishah weekly for a newschannel for the past eight years, said that this art form was dying, particularly after the introduction of TV, radio and cinema.

“Ladishah is close to my heart from the beginning but broadcast media like TV and radio gave it a blow. Now there was some interest among the new generation with the percolation of digital media,” he said.

He said that his interest in Ladishah was triggered by his fascination for this form since childhood. “I used to watch Ladishah on stage in Akingam which was my maternal home. From childhood it was in my mind and when I joined a TV channel as an editor I decided to introduce it. I have been writing Ladishah for the past 8-9 years mostly on current issues but unfortunately we are not able to incorporate much humour as every other day sad things happen in Kashmir,” he said.

He said that Areej performing Ladishah was an encouraging sign.

“Ladishah was a male dominated genre but now a girl from Kashmir is coming forward which is a big thing. People are also appreciating that girls are now coming forward to even adopt Ladishah. We should encourage her,” he said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
In Kerala, by contrast, the case trajectory has dropped only 34% —from 8,728 cases (seven-day average) on October 13 to 5,374 cases a day in the past week.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
In Kerala, by contrast, the case trajectory has dropped only 34% —from 8,728 cases (seven-day average) on October 13 to 5,374 cases a day in the past week.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

One in 3 new coronavirus cases recorded in Kerala

By Ramesh Babu, Thiruvananthapuram
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 06:44 AM IST
Since India’s Covid-19 peak in its first and only wave, the national case trajectory has dropped 85% — from 93,617 on September 16 to 14,376 on January 19.
Close
The last edition of the India Innovation Index, released in October 2019, was a first-of-its-kind metric for assessing the innovation capabilities of Indian states and Union territories.(AP Photo. Representative image)
The last edition of the India Innovation Index, released in October 2019, was a first-of-its-kind metric for assessing the innovation capabilities of Indian states and Union territories.(AP Photo. Representative image)

Karnataka retains top position at India Innovation Index ranking

UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 06:29 AM IST
Maharashtra leapfrogged Tamil Nadu to take second place in the rankings, followed by Telangana, Kerala, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
Close
An elderly farmer sits in the back of a tractor trolley as they block a highway in protest against new farm laws at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh state border, outskirts of New Delhi. (AP PHOTO)
An elderly farmer sits in the back of a tractor trolley as they block a highway in protest against new farm laws at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh state border, outskirts of New Delhi. (AP PHOTO)

Farm laws protests LIVE: SC-appointed panel to meet farmers' unions leader

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Shankhyaneel Sarkar
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 06:28 AM IST
  • The protests against the farm laws at Delhi's border has entered its eighth week.
Nadda said that the BJP had set an example of how a political party can “effectively work as a potent tool of social service and help people in times of need”.(PTI)
Nadda said that the BJP had set an example of how a political party can “effectively work as a potent tool of social service and help people in times of need”.(PTI)

JP Nadda hails BJP cadre, sets goal of ‘historic’ poll wins

PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 06:24 AM IST
In an open letter to party workers, Nadda exuded confidence that the ‘lotus’, the party’s poll symbol, will bloom in West Bengal after the assembly elections.
Close
A worker disinfects the poultry farm in Shivapur village to protect chickens from bird flu decease.(HT Photo )
A worker disinfects the poultry farm in Shivapur village to protect chickens from bird flu decease.(HT Photo )

Bird flu: New cases trigger second wave concerns

By Ritesh Mishra, Ramesh Babu, Raipur/thiruvananthapuram
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 06:21 AM IST
The first case of bird flu was reported from Jhalawar in Rajasthan on December 29, and the infections, deadly for birds, spread to 10 other states, resulting in the deaths of thousands of poultry, and hundreds of common crows and some migratory species.
Close
Nearly 64 lakh students across Maharashtra are yet to have their Aadhar card or have not updated their details.(HT file)
Nearly 64 lakh students across Maharashtra are yet to have their Aadhar card or have not updated their details.(HT file)

4-1 verdict: Supreme Court dismisses pleas seeking Aadhaar ruling review

UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 06:16 AM IST
By 4-1, a constitution bench affirmed the verdict delivered in September 2018 when the top court upheld the country’s biometric identity system and also cleared mandatory Aadhaar enrolment of recipients of government welfare benefits.
Close
Separately, CJI Bobde made an indirect appeal to the farmers to come on board and meet with the court-appointed committee that has been tasked with finding ways to address the impasse.(Sakib Ali/HT Photo)
Separately, CJI Bobde made an indirect appeal to the farmers to come on board and meet with the court-appointed committee that has been tasked with finding ways to address the impasse.(Sakib Ali/HT Photo)

Supreme Court turns down plea seeking to stop farmers’ tractor rally

By Utkarsh Anand, Abraham Thomas
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 06:11 AM IST
Declining to pass any order on the plea by the government, a bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, remarked that it was not for the court to remind the authorities of the policing power they have by passing an order in this regard.
Close
Facebook-owned WhatsApp rolled out a new privacy policy recently that included mandatory sharing of data with its parent company.(REUTERS)
Facebook-owned WhatsApp rolled out a new privacy policy recently that included mandatory sharing of data with its parent company.(REUTERS)

WhatsApp backs policy, says addressing ‘misinformation’

PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 06:04 AM IST
“We wish to reinforce that this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook. Our aim is to provide transparency and new options available to engage with businesses...” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.
Close
Because of Covid-19 safety protocols, the ECI has decided to reduce the average number of voters in each polling station from 1,500 to nearly 1,000.(PTI/ File photo)
Because of Covid-19 safety protocols, the ECI has decided to reduce the average number of voters in each polling station from 1,500 to nearly 1,000.(PTI/ File photo)

Electoral rolls, not NRC, to determine voters in Assam: Election Commission

By Utpal Parashar, Guwahati
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 06:00 AM IST
Around 1.9 million (of 33 million applicants) were left out of the updated NRC published for Assam on Augst 31, 2019. The NRC was a list intended to identify legal residents and weed out illegal immigrants from Assam.
Close
Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said Sikkim is a picturesque location for a Film City. (Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times Archive)
Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said Sikkim is a picturesque location for a Film City. (Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times Archive)

Film City in Sikkim: Union minister Jitendra Singh holds discussions

ANI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 05:53 AM IST
The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) campus in Arunachal Pradesh was established in 2018, the second in the country after Pune.
Close
The agency claims to have already established that Rishi took <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>30 lakh bribe in two tranches for facilitating the leak of information from the agency and that Dhankad had taken around <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>25 lakh from two companies.(Representative image)
The agency claims to have already established that Rishi took 30 lakh bribe in two tranches for facilitating the leak of information from the agency and that Dhankad had taken around 25 lakh from two companies.(Representative image)

CBI arrests two of its officials in bribery case

By Neeraj Chauhan
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 05:47 AM IST
The allegation is that crucial case related information and documents have been leaked since 2018 to individuals/companies being investigated for bank frauds.
Close
The composition of this four-member committee triggered a controversy since all four had previously made statements in support of the reforms.
The composition of this four-member committee triggered a controversy since all four had previously made statements in support of the reforms.

Supreme Court irked over criticism of farm committee picks

UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 05:39 AM IST
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November 26, demanding a complete repeal of the three farm laws and legal guarantee of minimum support price for their crops.
Close
Representational Image. (File photo)
Representational Image. (File photo)

Government writes to WhatsApp, asks it to withdraw new privacy policy

By Deeksha Bhardwaj
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 05:27 AM IST
It has also issued a detailed questionnaire to WhatsApp seeking more details about its data-sharing protocols and business practices
Close
On January 12, after two days of deliberation, the Supreme Court had suspended the farm laws. Judges dealing with the case also appointed a committee to look into farmers’ grievances over the laws.(Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)
On January 12, after two days of deliberation, the Supreme Court had suspended the farm laws. Judges dealing with the case also appointed a committee to look into farmers’ grievances over the laws.(Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

Centre says can put farm laws on hold for 1.5 years

By Zia Haq
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 05:15 AM IST
In the 10th round of negotiations with a 41-member delegation representing protesting farm unions on Wednesday, the government said it will move an affidavit before the Supreme Court to put the laws in abeyance till a solution to the farmers’ demands is found.
Close
Researchers also say that the evolution of Sars-Cov-2 at present does not pose a major risk since the changes seen even till now do not make existing immunity (from older infections) or vaccines completely obsolete.(REUTERS)
Researchers also say that the evolution of Sars-Cov-2 at present does not pose a major risk since the changes seen even till now do not make existing immunity (from older infections) or vaccines completely obsolete.(REUTERS)

Covid: South African, Brazilian strains raise new fears on vaccines, immunity

UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 04:57 AM IST
The first major mutation of the Sars-Cov-2 virus was reported from the UK in the so-called B.1.1.7 variant (also called VOC202012/01) ; authorities said in December that it was more infectious, and it was later seen as a factor in leading to the country’s worst wave yet.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP