Before 1990’s when the insurgency was yet to overtake the peaceful environs of Kashmir, it had one culturally rich tradition of Band e Pather. The band e pather was culturally a rich stage shows depicting socio economic and political problems existing in the society.
A group of people appearing in different roles would set a stage ant any place or at social functions and comically criticize the evils in the social set up and propagate the positive messages to the audience.
These cultural shows were synonym to the marriage functions and one would feel the marriages incomplete in case the ‘baends’ were not invited to entertain the audiences at the function. Across the valley these ‘Baends’ were spread in separate Mohallas of the villages including Wathoora in Budgam, Rohama and Palhallan in Baramulla district besides many other areas.
These people were also involved in theatre shows and when the world was not so advanced technically these people were the best and most impressive medium of entertainment and infotainment for the public.
Government would hire them to launch the social campaigns across the villages and towns and disseminate the information about the government schemes, health awareness and anything what government wanted to percolate to the public. However, with the onset of militancy in 1990’s, the baends appeared its first causality.
Militants banned them from performing terming it against the Islam. Like the ban on theatres which could witness unprecedented rush of people in Kashmir like in any other part of world, the culture of entertainment vanished from the soil.
It didn’t not only rendered hundreds of people jobless who were practising the profession after taking it in inheritance from ancestors but also failed us to acquaint our coming generations with this rich heritage.
Today the generation born after 1990’s may have heard of this culture but certainly must have not seen any such event in their life and in coming times we might be teaching our children in history books about it.
Most of the people associated with this profession after its ban in 1990 have resorted to degrading job of begging to meet their needs. Their only fault was that they had preserved, promoted and carried the legacy of their ancestors forward representing our rich glorious past.
Nevertheless, there have been enormous but poorly executed efforts of the government to revive this culture which somewhere sets the ray of hope for future. There are still so many areas where these baends have been performing and making dramas not only entertaining the strained population of valley, however, also carrying forward the cultural legacy.
These people sprouted in the early 2000 when the peace in the valley started retuning. These people associated with this kind of profession though have been documenting the Kashmir turmoil and impressively promoting the message of peace and harmony claim that they are doing it for free.
According to them the government overlook their genuine demands due to which their future generations are not ready to carry this legacy forward. They claim the job for the revival of band pather has been handed over to some self interested people who resort to exploitation leaving them dejected.
Most of the people who have taken it as full time profession claim that they get hardly any job by the cultural academy entrusted to promote the local culture.
This is the high time for the government to look into the genuine demands of these people for the sincere revival of band pather in Kashmir so that the legacy which has somehow survived against all odds may not be the script written in our history books.