Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Wanwun comes close to madrigals in English. It is a love-song, a melody of mirth sung in unison by more than one person, usually in marriages. Kashmir, my homeland, has a tradition of wanwun. Beautiful women with still beautiful voices tell the stories of love and happiness in a very sing-song fashion. Chorus. They stand like a human chain, arms flung over each other's shoulder and swing like an ancient rhythm. Their carols curl and pop in air. God's sit back and take notice, so do the men.

When a marriage takes place, Kashmiri women always seem to churn new versions of the same old story. The songs sound refreshingly new, however. Two groups of women take the centre-stage. It is oodles of fun. Two groups, 8 each. The rest of the womenfolk sing in tandem. Each group tends to outdo the other. They sing so soulfully. No one wins. The pitch rises and falls and steadies with every note. Add the drumming of Tumbak-naris ( small, hand-held drums) and the atmosphere can turn euphoric.

I miss the native-opera. I miss the thuds. Home is too far. The beats are distant.

Here, check this link.

We are a loving lot.

Sameer Bhat

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