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Gundipora – A Rich Tapestry of culture and art

4 mins read

Rayes Ahad Kumar

A couple of days earlier, dozens of social media pages and groups highlighted the skillful artistry of the people of Okay village of South Kashmir’s Kulgam district. Indeed this village close to main town of Kulgam is famous for it’s Kangri manufacturing art.

During biting cold and harshest period of winter, when due to absence of electricity and frequent power outages every electrical appliance stored in the home to beat the bone-chilling cold seems ineffectual, it is our centuries old traditional Kangri which comes to our rescue.

To beat the chill of chillaikalan, vallities have been using it to keep themselves warm amidst record dipping mercury levels. A kanger is an earthen pot woven around with wicker filled with hot embers used by Kashmiris beneath their traditional clothing pheran to keep the chill at bay, which is also regarded as a work of art.

Not only the social media, but print and electronic media too helped the Okay village in getting a global recognition through their stories. After going through these stories in valley based dailies, I was determined to write about Gundipora village of same district, which is famous not only for the wicker work of Kangri and basket making but also for many other traditions and art.

Situated on both sides of Kulgam Qazigund road strech of NH 444, it is some six kilometres away from Qazigund and nine kilometres from Kulgam town. It is a part of my domicile panchayat village besides Wubber a small nearby habitation. The people of Gundipora are kind-hearted, selfless and altruistic.

Majority of the village population is non-agriculturalist as they don’t own more than a couple kanals of land. But almighty Allah has bestowed them golden hands of wicker work. They produce thousands of firepots (Kangris) annually besides wicker baskets which they sell not only in nearby villages but in each corner of the south Kashmir.

Infact the Kangris and wicker baskets of this handsome village are famed all over the valley for their enchanting looks and affordable prices. During mid-chillaikalan when entire valley is engulfed by the white blanket of snow, these skillful workers move from village to village to bring about the repairing of the Kangris in people’s homes.

Wicker work is the main occupation of this popular hamlet to earn their livelihood. In September and October months the adjacent village inhabitants throng to Gundipora aiming to purchase Kangris for their families prior to the onset of winter. However, in addition to this premier art of wicker work, Gundipora is also prominent for a couple of reasons.

This land has given birth to a few eminent Sufi and mystic poets too whose poetic prowess have been widely acclaimed by the literary circles. Gh Hassan Gundpori, a prominent Sufi poet has composed hundreds of Sufi songs and manqabats of revered saints of valley. His manqabat of Syed Hussain Simnani ra is indeed a masterpiece. His poetic prowess and spritual beliefs are reflected in his poetry.

A collection of his poetry items have been published posthumously to recognise his poetic worth. This collection later on was well received by a big readership. Besides being a noted poet, Gh Hassan Gundpori was a pious and noble soul alongside a philanthropist. For dozens of other musical sensations, Gundipora is a pride of entire district. It has produced a number of talented and well-versed vocalists.

Their melodious and soulful voices resonate not merely in marriage functions or local cultural events but also are aired on Radio Kashmir Srinagar and Doordarshan Kendra stations. I recall during my childhood days a famous lyrical song of Sufi poet Niyama sahib “poshai laghou wa zailie lo” would be aired on Radio Kashmir’s Yiwawani service at night time sung by Abdul Salam Gundpori an eminent singer of the village.

These days another celebrated singer Yaseen Gundpori has taken internet by storm through his soulful voice, singing Samad Mir’s prominent song “Padh Padh ke Gaya pathar likh likh ke Gaya chour”. He is joined by a couple of youth in the vedio from the same village, one beating terecota pitcher while another playing violin. If you search on YouTube, you will get tens of devotional songs sung by Yaseen Gundpori.

Aijaz Hassan Gundpori the main musical sensation of the village is the beloved son of late Gh Hassan Gundpori. Hundreds of Sufi and folk music songs are available on his YouTube channel which have garnered a lot of attention on the social media platforms recieving views in thousands and comments of hundreds shortly after their release.

He has directed and vocalised almost all lyrical songs of his father in his enchanting melodious voice. Aijaz too composes lyrics and one of his popular song “Mei kormut khudayan sayi dilbaro, che chai pata lael gesa zaya dilbaro” resonates often in wedding ceremonies and other cultural events. He is an excellent poet and it seems he has inherited the legacy of art from his father.

Bilal Gundpori can’t be ignored while commenting on the artistic prowess of leading singers of this village. His mellifluous song “Zarum na doorer khuda gawah chum” has received applauds on social media. He is a budding artist from this land. The adjoining areas of Gundipora are familiar with a humorous and satirical person Ab Gani Bhat aka Nyama Kak, who superbly displays his art of playing flute, indigenous dance and singing a Ladakhi song in enchanting tune. He is a Kangri and wicker basket artisan too and whenever he intends to sell his handicraft items in local areas he often lures his customers by his splendid artistic performances.

To keep the rich art and legacy of their fathers and forefathers alive, the youth of the village too are bewitched towards poetry and singing. Almost every young boy and girl of the village is an inborn singer or poet. Perhaps the land of the village is divinely made fertile for art and literature as every soul who tries his luck in the field shines like a midnight star.

It is rightly said that if you aspire to destroy a nation, you need not a use bombs and other weaponry, just snatch their culture and traditions, their identity would be lost forever and would no more be recognized on the face of planet. So they have truly pledged to safeguard their culture and tradition.

Writer is hailing from Qazigund Kashmir

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