Naveed Ul Haq
Srinagar, Sep 5: Band Pather, a traditional medium of information and entertainment, is facing an uphill task for its revival in this digital age.
The artists of Wathora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district which used to be the hub of this folklore have expressed concerns over the fading legacy of the art form.
Rayees Wathori, a famous artist from Hanjigund, said “Band Pather is an integral part of our cultural heritage. It used to be the heartbeat of our village gatherings. But today, it is struggling to compete with smartphones and television. We fear it may vanish if we don’t take action.”
“Efforts are being made by local cultural organisations to preserve and revive Band Pather. We hope that with the right support, this centuries-old folklore can regain its place in the 21st century while staying true to its roots,’’ he added.
Rayees said wherever people are involved in this art, they try to include youth in it and prepare them to carry this work forward to the next generation. Wathora is considered an epicentre for this culture and we want other people belonging to this art to rejoin it as we have seen some areas of Kashmir where people have completely abandoned this culture, he lamented.
The artist said it is a challenge to win hearts through Band Pather in the same old traditional way.
Wathori further said that Band Pather is still alive and even some educated youth are participating in it to keep the art alive. ‘’Creating new scripts, dialogues and stages will help get people’s attention towards it. Wherever we (artists) have performed, we have been appreciated because now we give something new to the people with a good message,” he said.
Rayees said that cultural policy and theatre as subjects should be added to the school curriculum and some modern techniques should be implemented by the government to save Band Pather.
Another artist Younis said Band Pather once used to be a cherished tradition in Kashmir. This art involving storytellers reciting tales and legends accompanied by folk music has been losing its audience to modern forms of entertainment and communication. Whenever these programs were happening, people in hundreds used to gather and share things with each other but all have been taken from us by the internet, he said, adding, “We must find ways to promote Band Pather without losing its essence otherwise, a valuable piece of our culture will be lost forever.”