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Kashmir - a Rainbow of Melodies on Santoor

Music composed by: Bhajan Sopori

      Santoor, Prakriti (Nature) and Bhajan (Prayer) are a trinity that signifies one concept-Kashmir. The Santoor or Shatatantri Veena, is a musical instrument of Kashmir.  It  expresses the various moods of this land, which, in turn, are reflected in the musical compositions of this paradise on earth.

       The present symphony is a product of my memories of Kashmir, re-created in the tranquility of my composerís mind that have inspired me from time to time. My contribution has been in bringing these diverse elements together in order to create an extravaganza of rhythm and melody.The symphony is divided into seven movements, corresponding to the seven colors of the rainbow I saw over the silver mountain range as a child.The attempt on my part has been to present a fusion of the traditional,the classical, the Sufiana, the folk music of my motherland, with contemporary sensibility,which represent the cherished values of my people.

        My first theme is Pari Mahal.  Built on the foot-holds of the Hill of Zaberwan facing the Shankaracharya (Shiva Temple) on the one side and the Mosque of Hazratbal Shrine on the other side The Pari Mahal, or abode of the nymphs (or the dancing girls of then ruling court), was also an astrological observatory of Dara Shikoh, the Sufi Mughal Prince.  I have tried to visualize a spiritually gifted soul, for whom"Namah Shivay" and "Allah" carry the same message.  It is left to the imagination of the listener how he would like to interpret the rendering of these two words simultaneously.

        The entry into the Dal Lake through its famous gate is my childhood memory of a Shikara ride, with its accompanying resonance of the singing birds, the sound of the boatman's oars and the lapping of the waves against the sides of the boat.The flowing breeze, while negotiating the lotus fields and the narrow tunnel under the "Camel Bridge" on approach to the Nishat Gardens, are all vibrant in my imagination in this musical composition.

        The Chinar is a glamorous tree that provides cool shade and shelter for meditation.  Like a mother, it nourishes all that comes under its benign shadow, and build nests on its lofty branches and the Shehajar (cool shadow) that it  provides throughout the summer months.

       My Alav, call to the Sufi saints, is based on the Sufiana Muqams set to  Chapandaz Tal a rhythmic cycle of six beats in Sufiana Mausiqui and expresses devotional moods through a variety of melodies.

      The Village song recalls the Wullar, on shores of which is situated Sopore, my ancestral home.  Here I present the variegated moods of my life and the folk song that nurtured me from infancy to youth.

       As for the Vitasta, the ancient name of the River Jhelam, it has contributed everlastingly to the nourishment of life in Kashmir. On its banks in Srinagar, we have the Temple of Mahakali and the Shrine of Shah Hamdan, the ancient Ganesha Temple and the Zoona Dab of Bud Shah.  It is  the synthesis of religions and cultures and also a medium of transportation by way of the Shikaras that ride it currents.The Vitasta symbolizes both the agony and ecstasy of Kashmir.  My  attempt, in these two compositions, has been to recall and integrate all these various ideas and recollections that would rejuvenate the ideal that Kashmir has stood for through the centuries, and what it could mean to the future generations.  It gives me the greatest pleasure to present this humble homage to my motherland and to the lovers of music all overthe world.  The Vitasta in Ecstasy is a wish !



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Kashmiri Overseas Association, Inc. (KOA) is a 501c(3) non-profit, tax-exempt socio-cultural organization registered in Maryland, USA. Its purpose is to protect, preserve, and promote Kashmiri ethnic and socio-cultural heritage, to promote and celebrate festivals, and to provide financial assistance to the needy and deserving.

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