What it takes to revive a folk ballad dominated by men. This Kashmiri woman has the answer

When 25-year-old Syed Areej Safvi set out to perform Ladishah—Kashmiri folk ballad—she didn’t expect to make history | Image - Eunice Dhivya

When 25-year-old Syed Areej Safvi set out to perform Ladishah—Kashmiri folk ballad—she didn’t expect to make history. Areej is now Kashmir’s first ‘Lady-shah’, called so since she is the only woman to perform the traditional form of solo-storytelling usually done by men.

“I did not choose Ladishah. I believe Ladishah chose me. I am emotionally attached to Kashmir’s culture, language, literature, tradition and history. Also, poetry fascinates me. I try to write poetry in Urdu language,” Areej tells The Federal, adding, “The love for my land always inspires me to do something for Kashmir, to speak up on socio-political issues, our culture and history.”

Traditionally, Ladishahs used to be creative socio-political commentators. Dressed in a pheran—Kashmir’s traditional woollen garment—a Ladishah with a headgear would entertain people with his satirical poems and acerbic socio-political commentary while playing a musical instrument. Witticism would be Ladishah’s hallmark or USP.

“I saw Ladishah as a political commentator too, but for me it was one of the first challenges to overcome. It is also about channelising one’s anger through creative means. Otherwise one would not succeed in this journey,” Areej says.

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