Sumera B Reshi Culture
Folk dance is a form of dance developed by a group of people that reflects the traditional life of a certain country or a region. The folk dance represents the dance forms of the common people and there are diverse dance forms all over the world and Kashmir is no exception.
Bhanda Pather is considered to be the most aesthetical dance forms of Kashmir. This dance form is simple but attractive. ‘Bhand’ here refers to clown and ‘Pather’ denotes celebration. In the past, this art form of dance used to grace almost all the occasions of joy – be it a birth of a child, wedding ceremony and other reason for celebration. Alas! Today this art form is on the verge of decline rather it is a perishing dance with no lovers in Kashmir left. The need is to rescue it before it breathes its last.
All over the world, recreational folk dance is facing a tough and hard time and if these folk dances wither and die, the health of our performing troupes, international festivals, academic programs and regional camps and ethnic workshops will also decline and become a sad story of the past. If none of us cares to save these valuable folk dances then in future we all will listen to the pathetic stories of our heritage in books only.
This famous folk dance of Kashmir called Bhand Pather is ailing because locals aren’t interested in this art form anymore. We consider other social dance forms better fit for our contemporary culture, especially for younger generations but not our own folk dance.
Undoubtedly, Kashmir has been called Switzerland of Asia and is known for its natural beauty, lush green forests and crystal clear waters which create a natural music. Every blade of grass, each gust of wind dances with its natural music. Not only scenic beauty but Kashmir is also rich in its culture which is unique in the world, distinct from other cultures. A la its beauty, God has gifted Kashmir with inimitable dance forms and Bhand Pather is one among them.
Certainly, Kashmir is also called the land of Sufis and was once upon a time considered a great seat of learning. In the culture of Kashmir dance is a form of cultural expression which is deeply rooted in our past. Unfortunately, due to globalization, we are all exposed to other cultures, thus our own folk dance has become vulnerable in situations of rapid change and socio-political upheaval. It is high time that we as a society need to stand up and preserve these dance treasures. So need is to save this dying art which is Bhand Pather.
Bhand Pather is said to be performed for many centuries to entertain masses and has played an important part of the Kashmir life and culture.
Moreover, this folk dance has a cultural legacy of 200-300 years old genre of Kashmir’s folk theatre. The dance is the combination of the play and dance in a satirical style.
The dance conveys the expression through various parodies made out of social situations. This dance is normally performed in the villages in open areas or in a wider arena in front of a huge audience. The dance is performed by the group of 15 to 20 people, wearing traditionally styled attires. The dance is accompanied by the classical musical instrument like “Surnai” – it is the Kashmiri version of the Indian “Shehnai” along with Peshrao, Dhol and Nagara.
Bhand Pather is normally performed in the areas like Punchh, Sopor, Rajouri, Pahalgam and Kishtwar. These are the famous regions of Kashmir where this traditional folk dance has been performed for many years. The Bhands of Kashmir used to perform from village to village while wandering and collecting food, money and clothes for themselves offered by the people, which was their only source of income and survival. They also happened to be invited on the marriage occasions of royals, rich and landlords to perform for days together – thus enjoyed a popular social recognition.
Dance, whether social, theatrical or ritually based, is a form of cultural expression. Like visual art, sculpture or architecture, dance encapsulates, reinforces and transmits cultural traditions and values. Nevertheless, over the past two decades, the overall lifestyle of the Kashmiris have undergone fundamental changes in response to the rapid urbanization and globalization. People are embracing dances and music from other culture which is not bad but we need to preserve ours as well else our folk dance – Bhand Pather will be on the verge of ceasing to exist altogether. Breathes Breathes