Monthly Archives: September 2013

Stench in Srinagar City


Stench in Srinagar City

Fazili describes how the paradise is facing duel stench emanating from Achan Saidpora Solid Waste Dumping Site on one side, and from untreated water of Brari Numbal mini lake on the other. The stink is in the heart of the city


Way back in 1981, the J&K Government entrusted to UEED, the task of formulation of the feasibility report with the objective of developing the baseline information and parameters for formulating and designing a well conceived cost-effective scheme for hygienic collection, transportation and disposal of solid wastes of Greater Srinagar city. While the second phase of the work under this project would involve the exercise for establishment of the appropriate scheme and its engineering aspects. Having retained M/S Universal Enviroscience as consultants, a report was formulated, which identified and delineated the areas and essential components which were of relevance to the second phase of the work and also provided a conceptual system of the solid waste management programme for Greater Srinagar city.

The subjects covered were:

(I) Review of growth pattern of Srinagar Town based on population, sectoral activities, geo-climatic and other conditions and land based use pattern.

(II) Identification and assessment of sources, nature and quantum of solid wastes in Srinagar town based on sources, nature- physical and chemical characteristics, classification of solid wastes-assessment of recoverable materials and of fuel and fertilizer production and quantum.

(III) Inventory and assessment of existing solid waste collection (including house boats and dunga boats), transportation and disposal facilities and manpower and workshop facilities.

(IV) Conceptual system of solid waste collection, transportation and hygienic disposal and location of additional sites in Srinagar.

(V) Identification of the areas for further investigations and survey.

(VI) Guidelines for improvement/modifications of available data/reports.

(VII) Recommendations on financial aspects and time bound programme of the project.

The physical and chemical characteristics of the solid waste samples revealed that the wastes are most amenable to composting. Besides other recommendations for improving the door to door collection system, transportation, sanitary landfill for a few years, installation of mechanical compost plants at Noorbagh and at the landfill site within a period of five years was recommended to Srinagar Municipality. The recommendations were partly implemented by the SMC, but the main recommendation for installation of mechanical compost plant (MCP) was shelved for reasons best known to the authorities.

The issue of preparation of a detailed project report on Solid waste Disposal of Srinagar city was again taken up by Srinagar Municipality in 2000 AD, but its results were not known.

The problem of stench in Srinagar city, would have been, eliminated if the proposed “Mechanical compost plants” would have been installed in time, which would have also minimized the land area required for sanitary landfill, besides generating organic compost to be made available to the farmers to enrich their soil. This way the harmful effects of chemical compost would also have been obviated.

I was specially deputed by UEED to New Delhi to inspect the mechanical compost plant of NDMC in eighties. I also attended an interstate meeting in Housing Department in New Delhi, who took review of the already functioning compost plants of different cities. I understood that our state had made no efforts to obtain Central assistance for establishing the mechanical compost plant. Later I was tipped for visiting Japan for observing their system of disposal of solid and liquid wastes, but it did not mature as my sanction order became victim of red tape in the secretariat offices.

As observed by me at NDMC the process of conversion of compost takes just three weeks by dumping the wastes directly from trucks on a platform, sprinkling water and turning the wastes mechanically for 21 days during which period considerable heat gets generated in the wastes and decomposition takes place. Thereafter the wastes are placed on conveyer belts and hand picking is done for any hard materials like stones, metals, glasses, plastics, polythene etc. by the persons who remain on either side of the slow moving belt. For smaller elements screening is also recommended. The decomposed waste ultimately goes to the pulverizer, for grinding it in to a powder, which is packed in bags to be sold to farmers. There is no problem of stench during this operation as has been observed in various metropolitan cities including the capital city of Delhi.

Everyday there is a protest lodged in the media by the inhabitants of the surrounding areas, even Imam of Jamia Mosque Srinagar has condemned from pulpit on Friday prayers, the apathy of the authorities for not being able to tackle the problem of stench emanating from Achan dumping site for the last three decades. Similarly the Brari-numbal mini lake in the heart of city has turned to be a cess-pool adding to the already existing foul smell from Achan site. The STP constructed at huge cost is non functional and filth from four lakh citizens pours in to the mini lake round the clock.

In view of the growing menace of stench spreading in to the interior of the city of Srinagar, it is high time that Govt. wakes up to the situation and takes up the construction of the compost plants as recommended by the experts of international repute.

According to Master Plan of Srinagar Metropolitan area 2000-2021, for a population of 12 lakhs in 2000 AD and estimated 23.50 lakhs in 2021 AD, Solid Waste including fruit and vegetable wastes works out to 538 tons and 1356 tons / day respectively. Out of 538 tons of solid waste 300 tons were handled by the Municipality in 2000 AD and the remaining 236 tons waste was partly dumped in water bodies, partly in ditches and partly salvaged in the form of Kabadi materials at domestic levels. As for the disposal of waste materials, SMC managed to collect the garbage from 308 collection points in 2000 AD (presently 575 points in 2013) within the municipal limits. These collection points are interspersed all over the city on roads in open form. However recently in certain selected areas, plastic dustbins have been provided by the SMC and door to door collection is made against a monthly charge of Rs. 50/- per house hold. This has reduced the open spread of solid waste attracting street dogs, besides spreading local obnoxious smell in these particular areas.

According to the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, it has at present only one Dumping Site at SyedporaAchan which comprises of 540 Kanals of land. Where the waste is being spread over and is further being covered with clay and use of disinfects are also being made. The existing Dumping site is being improved and modernized in a scientific Engineered Landfill site through the financial and technical guidance of Asian Development Bank. A detailed action plan/project report on this score has been prepared. In fact some of the works have been taken up for execution by the J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency against the money released by the Asian Development Bank. All the environmental and other related issues will be redressed under the modernization plan. The modernization of existing open dumping site into a scientific Sanitary Landfill site will be taken up for execution by the J&KERA in a couple of months against the estimated cost of Rs. 22.00 Crores that will take care of all the pollutants including that of air quality, ground water quality and aesthetic look and landscaping of the interior of Landfill site as per guidelines of J&K SPCB. Besides this there will be a permanent facility for regular monitoring of these components in future

As can be viewed from the future programme of SMC regarding disposal of solid wastes, the recommendation of the construction of Mechanical Compost Plant has been ignored for unknown reasons. It would be prudent if some officers were deputed to inspect the working of the mechanical compost plant of NDMC, whereby they would get a clear idea of its efficiency and its suitability for our conditions.



46th ENGINEERS DAY-September 15, 2013


The Oxford Dictionary defines Engineering as:

-the branch of science and technology, concerned with the design, building, and use of engines, machines, and structures.

-a field of study or activity concerned with modification or development in a particular area: software engineering

-the action of working artfully to bring something about.

The aim of engineer is to make use of the material economically getting maximum benefits within the prescribed limit of factors of safety as per BSI code of practice.

Frugal is defined as:

-sparing or economical with regard to money or food.

Thus the term frugality is already inscribed in the term “engineering” and ‘frugal engineering’ is to be super-economical within safe limits.

Frugal Engineering is the science of breaking up complex engineering processes into its basic components and then re-building each component in the most economical manner. The end result is a simpler, more robust and easier to handle final process. It also results in a much cheaper final product which does the same job qualitatively and quantitatively as a more expensive complexly engineered product.

It is generally believed that Indians and other South Asians are the most adept in frugal engineering, because resources and capital are scarce in this region. 

Many terms are used to refer to the concept. “Frugal engineering” which was coined by Carlos Ghosn, the joint chief of Renault and Nissan, who stated, “frugal engineering is achieving more with fewer resources.”

In India, the words “Gandhian” or “jugaad“, Hindi for a stop-gap solution, are sometimes used instead of “frugal”. Other terms with allied meanings include “inclusive innovation”, “catalytic innovation”, “reverse innovation“, and “BOP innovation”, etc.

At times this no frills approach can be a kind of disruptive innovation.


Spotlighted in a 2010 article in The Economist,] the roots of this concept may lie in the appropriate technology movement of the 1950s although profits may have been first wrung from underserved consumers in the 1980s when multinational companies like Unilever began selling single-use-sized toiletries in developing countries. Frugal innovation today isn’t solely the domain of large multinational corporations; however, as small, local firms have themselves chalked up a number of homegrown solutions. While General Electric may win plaudits for its US$800 EKG machines, cheap cell phones made by local, no-name companies and prosthetic legs fashioned from irrigation piping are also examples of frugal innovation.

The concept has gained popularity in the South Asian region, particularly in India. The US Department of Commerce has singled out this nation for its innovative achievements saying in 2012 that “there are many Indian firms that have learned to conduct R&D in highly resource-constrained environments and who have found ways to use locally appropriate technology.

Notable innovations

Frugal innovation is not limited to durable goods such as the GE US$800 EKG machine or the US$100 One Laptop per Child but also services such as 1-cent-per-minute phone calls, mobile banking, off-grid electricity, and microfinance.

ChotuKool fridge

A tiny refrigerator sold by Indian company Godrej, the ChotuKool may have more in common with computer cooling systems than other refrigerators; it eschews the traditional compressor for a computer fan. (It may exploit the thermoelectric effect.)

Jaipur leg

A low cost prosthetic developed in India, the Jaipur leg costs about $150 to manufacturer and includes some clever improvisations such as incorporating irrigation piping into the design to lower costs.

Mobile banking

Mobile banking solutions in Africa, like Safaricom‘s M-Pesa, allow people access to basic banking services from their mobile phones. Money transfers done through mobiles are also much cheaper than using a traditional method. While some services can be accessed on a mobile alone, deposits and withdrawals necessitate a trip to a local agent.

Nokia 1100

Designed for developing countries, the Nokia 1100 is basic, durable, and–besides a flashlight–has few features other than voice and text. Selling more than 200 million units only four years after its 2003 introduction,, has made it the best selling phone of all time.

Solar light bulb

In some Philippine slums, solar skylights made from one liter soda bottles filled with water and bleach provide light equivalent to that produced by a 55 watt bulb and may reduce electricity bills by US$10 per month.

Tata Nano

Designed to appeal to the many Indians who drive motorcycles, the Tata Nano was developed by Indian conglomerate Tata Group and is the cheapest car in the world.

 The Importance of Frugal Engineering

Frugal Engineering will be of great relevance to developing countries, as a flexible approach that perceives resource constraints as a growth opportunity. According to Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, at the current rate of consumption, by 2030 we would need two planets to supply the resources we need and to absorb our waste. As engineers, in the service of the humanity enabling the citizens to enjoy a better quality of life, we have an added responsibility these days to find engineering solutions – of course, frugal – to problems thrown up by all sectors endangering the environment.

Providing new goods and services to “bottom of the pyramid” customers requires a radical rethinking of product development.

A cell phone that makes phone calls — and does little else; a portable refrigerator the size of a small cooler; a car that sells for about US$2,200 (100,000 rupees). These are some of the results of “frugal engineering,” a powerful and ultimately essential approach to developing products and services in emerging markets.

To get a handle on what frugal engineering is, it helps to understand what it is not. Frugal engineering is not simply low-cost engineering. It is not a scheme to boost profit margins by squeezing the marrow out of suppliers’ bones. It is not simply the latest take on the decades-long focus on cost cutting.

Instead, frugal engineering is an overarching philosophy that enables a true “clean sheet” approach to product development. Cost discipline is an intrinsic part of the process, but rather than simply cutting existing costs, frugal engineering seeks to avoid needless costs in the first place. It recognizes that merely removing features from existing products to sell them cheaper in emerging markets is a losing game. That’s because emerging-market customers have unique needs that usually aren’t addressed by mature-market products, and because the cost base of developed world products, even when stripped down, remains too high to allow competitive prices and reasonable profits in the developing world.

Frugal engineering recalls an approach common in the early days of U.S. assembly-line manufacturing: Henry Ford’s Model T is a prime example. But as industries grew and matured over the decades, and as consumers prospered to levels few would have predicted a century ago, product development processes became hardwired and standard operating procedures worked against frugality.

In addition, the profit structure in mature markets reduced incentives for major change. Constant expansion of features available to consumers in the developed world, frivolous or not, has provided many businesses with their richest profit margins. Mature-market customers continue to accept price premiums for new features, leading companies to over-engineer their product lines — at least from the point of view of emerging-market customers. The virtual extinction of manual car windows in the United States is just one example.

Frugal engineering, by contrast, addresses the billions of consumers at the bottom of the pyramid who are quickly moving out of poverty in China, India, Brazil, and other emerging nations. They are enjoying their first tastes of modern prosperity, and are shopping for the basics, not for fancy features. According to C.K. Prahalad, author of The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid (Wharton School Publishing, 2005), these potential customers, “un served or underserved by the large organized private sector, including multinational firms,” total 4 to 5 billion of the 6.7 billion people on Earth.  Although the purchasing power of any of these new consumers as an individual is only a fraction of a consumer’s purchasing power in mature markets, in aggregate they represent a market nearly as large as that of the developed world.

Attracted by the size and rapid growth of emerging markets — concurrent with a growth slowdown in the developed world — companies in a range of industries are establishing distribution and manufacturing operations as well as research and development centers in these regions. However, some of these companies may not fully grasp the challenges that competition in emerging markets entails. The prospect of high-volume profit streams may be enticing, but those profits must be earned in the face of lower prices, lower per-unit profits, and stringent cost targets.

In addition, too few companies realize how demanding emerging-market customers can be. They don’t spend easily, because they don’t have much to spend. They require a different set of product features and functions than their developed-world counterparts, but still insist on high quality. Global companies, therefore, must change the way they think about product design and engineering. Simply selling the cheapest products on hand or reusing technologies from higher-priced products will not cut costs enough and is unlikely to result in the kind of products these new customers will buy. The central tenet behind every frugal engineering decision is maximizing value to the customer while minimizing nonessential costs. As already stated the term frugal engineering was coined in 2006 by Renault Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn to describe the competency of Indian engineers in developing products like Tata Motors’ Nano, the pint-sized, low-cost automobile. Companies such as Suzuki paved the way for the development of low-cost automobiles, but there may be no better example of frugal engineering than the Nano, which will allow millions of people with modest means to reliably drive their own car. The Nano is not — like so many other low-cost vehicles — a stripped-down version of a traditional, more expensive car design. Like other newly engineered products selling well in emerging markets, ranging from refrigerators to laptop computers to X-ray machines, it is based on a bottom-up approach to product development.

Even global companies uninterested in the growth offered by the world’s lowest-income consumers will have to pay attention to the lessons of frugal engineering: Products developed with this approach are beginning to compete with goods sold in developed countries, a trend that’s likely to continue. Deere & Company, for example, designed and sold small, lower-powered tractors in the Indian market, but didn’t begin selling such models in the U.S. until an Indian company, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., beat them to it. Mahindra & Mahindra has proven an able competitor to Deere in larger tractors as well. General Electric (GE), on the other hand, has been more proactive; for example, it has sold a revolutionary new low-cost handheld ultrasound scanner in developed markets by incorporating frugal engineering lessons learned in its Indian medical research and development lab. A low-cost GE electrocardiogram machine, developed at the same Indian lab for the local markets, is now being sold in the United States and Europe as well.

Meeting all these challenges will require a change in corporate culture. Some companies will be up to it; other companies will not. A successful approach to frugal engineering involves new ways of thinking about customers, innovation, and organization.

Understanding the Customer

The ultimate goal of frugal engineering couldn’t be more basic: to provide the essential functions people need — a way to wash clothes, keep food cold, get to work — at a price they can afford. Critical attention to low cost is always accompanied by a commitment to maximizing customer value. The Tata Nano development team’s decision not to include a radio on the standard model wasn’t a simple move to avoid cost. The team understood that the typical Nano customer places far more value on extra storage space. Using what normally would be the radio slot for storage not only avoided a major cost, but also added value for the customer.

Such carefully calculated trade-offs, made at the product planning stage, serve the dual purpose of maintaining low costs and increasing the product’s overall functionality and utility for the buyer. Assessment of those trade-offs requires close, careful observation on the part of planners if they are to arrive at a deep understanding of the ways a product fits (or doesn’t fit) into customers’ lives.

Again the Nokia 1100 cell phone is another example. Experience has shown that when low-income people in just about any country begin to enjoy a bit of economic prosperity, one of their first purchases is a cell phone. Many new cell phone customers in emerging markets are agricultural workers who spend their days outdoors. When Nokia developers watched field-workers using mobile phones in India, they noticed that the intense humidity made the phones slick and hard to hold or dial. So the phone was built with a nonslip silicon coating on its keypad and sides. The handset was also designed to resist damage from dust that is common in arid climates and some factory environments. The phones are otherwise basic: They can send and receive phone calls and text messages. The screens are monochrome. Because the phones lack fancy software, the power draw is smaller, so they can operate longer between charges. The only real extra is a tiny, energy-efficient flashlight that’s proven popular in areas where power blackouts are common — in other words, in most rural villages and many emerging-market cities. At a price of $15 to $20, the Nokia 1100 is the best-selling cell phone ever.

More than a year after coining the term “frugal engineering” to describe Indian engineers, Carlos Ghosn, the joint chief of Renault and Nissan, is still not frugal with his praise for Indian techies.

And his love affair with the country, which isn’t exactly globally acclaimed for engineering skills, continues.

Flying in to Chennai, which is fast becoming an auto hub, Ghosn once again recently lavished compliments on engineers.

“Frugal engineering is achieving more with fewer resources. The cost of developing a product in the West is high since engineers there use more expensive tools. In India, they achieve a lot more with fewer resources,” Ghosn said.

Between Nissan and Renault, there are now three joint venture companies with Indian partners for different products. Renault and utility vehicle manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra have a JV to manufacture Logan cars in India.

Renault, Nissan and M&M also have a three-way JV to manufacture cars for the respective principals. Now, Nissan has a JV with Ashok Leyland for the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment

. “We see a lot of opportunities for LCVs in India but we would not have come alone. We were looking for a partner. India is a sophisticated market that requires sophisticated products and we would have wasted a lot of resources had we tried to come alone,”

Ghosn told media persons here.

There could be more JVs from the group in the future.

Nissan, Renault and Bajaj Auto are in talks to develop and manufacture “ultra low-cost” passenger cars in India.

“We will enter into as many JVs as required,” said Ghosn, who flew out to Pune recently to hold interactions with Bajaj Auto officials for the low-cost car.

Ghosn operates out of two continents -Paris in Europe and Tokyo in Asia -and looking at the number of visits he would be making on account of the multiple business interest his group has here, Dheeraj Hinduja, co-chairman, Ashok Leyland, in a lighter note, said that he has a third headquarter in India.

India will be a centre of frugal engineering

RA Mashelkar, former director-general at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and national Research professor, has thought long and hard about Gandhian engineering— his version of frugal engineering, the term coined by Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. Malshelkar, for his part, became aware of the true extent of the practice in India only when he instituted an award on inclusive innovation in memory of his mother. There were more than a hundred entries for the award that was given on December 17. The two joint winners had developed two low-cost solutions for rural India: a portable device to detect five eye diseases and a diaper that costs one-tenth its current price.

Nature is the best teacher of frugal engineering:

Every creation animate or inanimate is designed by nature with exact specifications, taking an example of atom, its number of electrons, protons, neutrons that determine the individual characteristics of every material. There was once a description of analysis of human body in TOI about half a century back. It quantified the calcium, potassium, magnesium etc contained in the human body, which was priced at Rs. 3.50 only. By this meager amount nature had created an automatic machine that could produce many more of its prototypes. In the end it had concluded that we are simply wonderful. So is the case with other creations right from infinitely vast universe studded with gigantic galaxy of stars, milky ways and black holes, our solar system, our planet earth and all the environment and elements suitable for the sustenance of life on it, to the creation of animals, plants, insects and microbes (not seen by naked eyes).

J&K Scenario

Many innovations have been recently made by the young entrepreneurs in J&K State, but it seems that they lack the support deserved by them to push their innovations ahead into manufacturing stage. The recent one is a joint venture of a professor and a student (as shown in a TV show- Good Morning J&K) invention of a turbine that can generate electricity just on running water without any water-fall, which has a tremendous potential in solving the power crisis of the State. Kashmir University is reportedly helping such innovators to promote their projects.

Similarly a young engineering student of Kashmir, Arif Moosvi developed web designing framework Hotsky, used for developing website, This is India’s first web designing framework. Earlier Asif Ahmad- a Kshmiri boy developed an android application- Droid Explorer which was hosted by Google Play. The application has witnessed 5000 downloads worldwide. Recently a 19 year old boy developed an android game based on basic principles of physics. Earlier a 23 year old software engineer developed an android application- “Dial Kashmir” that contains over 500 contacts of Govt. and private departments. Another young engineer developed an online platform where people can share and get any information regarding Kashmir.

Otherwise too, the Kashmiris have been practicing frugal engineering earlier than the advent of machines. With limited available resources, they had devised their own cheap devices like Wagu– a grass mat, Pulhur– a grass slipper, khraw– a wooden slipper, Tathul– a wooden tub, a watermill- (grath) for grinding maize, wheat and spices which has been in use for centuries together. The “Yinder” to spin Pashmina wool was a common domestic tool with its accessories. The “Kanz”and “Muhul” was used to pound rice, thereby by providing an exercise to our woman-folk. Similarly the copper teapot “samawar”-that keeps our tea hot, while we sip it. Then “kangri”/ “mannan” –the firepot that kept us warm in severe winters. So were our ‘hamams’ that made us face cool temperatures. Our mud hearths “dhan” had a water container called “matti” attached to it, whereby water would get heated along with the cooking of meals and the residual charcoal would be used in “kangris”. Similarly the popular dress of “Pheran”, “Tilla work” had its own charm and utility. Again the “jajir / hooka” used for smoking tobacco was also an indigenous innovation. The recipes of the balms prepared by the barbers for treatment of boils, wounds etc. are lost with their deaths. “Wazwan” too has its own identity and charm. Kashur Kagaz– the kashmiri paper was washable. In construction works dajji-diwari, panjra-kari, pachar bandi, khutum bandi etc. was indigenous innovation. Koshur put- the home spun Kashmiri pattoo, Kashmiri shawl with embroidery, Kani shawl, Pashmina, Shah-tush, Kashmiri silk were all local made. Woollen Namdhas and Ghabbas, Paper machie, silver work, copper work, wood carving, fur making, wooden boats, dungas, house boats, even tongas pulled by horses have their own individuality. Like that there are many more innovations which have been invented due to the necessity of the times and availability of the limited and scarce resources; confirming the saying that: “Necessity is the mother of invention”.

Thus a Kashmiri is born with an innovative brain, given the chance and encouragement; he can be a great contributor to the “frugal engineering” even in modern times.

Kashmir has produced many fertile brains in the form of saints, historians, scholars, poets, artists, painters, kings, politicians of international reputation, which include Saga Nila, Kalhana, Abhinavgupta, Nagarjuna, Lalitadattya, Lala Arifa, Shaikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani, Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi, Habba Khatun, Mulla Mohsin Fani, Mulla Tahir Gani Ashai, Akhund Mulla Kamal, Molvi Anwar Shah Kashmiri, Zain-ul-Abideen (Budshah) etc., Even the forefathers of Jawaharlal Nehru hailed from Kashmir.

Here I quote Dr. Iqbal (d. 1938) – the great philosopher poet who too was of Kashmiri origin:

  “Jis khak ke zameer mein ho aatash-i-chinar; mumkin nahin ki sard ho who khak-i-arjamand”

i.e. The dust instinct with the fire of Chinar—That fiery dust will never turn cold.

Again the son of the soil Nunda Reshi (RA)(d. 1439 AD) said:

I broke my sword and made it into a sickle.




Wazwan – the feast and the waste thereof


Wazwan – the feast and the waste thereof

Let’s shun this extravagance that has become an unnecessary part of wedding functions




A few weeks back I got trapped in a “Hamrah-i-Shah”, a wedding function in which I had to accompany the bridegroom during late night hours. The invitation card indicated the time of the departure of the barat at 8 PM. Unlike other places of the world, time is a free commodity for us and as usual the barat left 4 hours later i.e. by 12 o’clock midnight. Instead of adopting a shorter five minute route, the guide preferred a long roundabout that consumed an hour more. Thus we reached the bride’s place the next day of the calendar. The reception and warming of the meals took another hour. The meals were finally served at 2am and finished at 3am and we were back along with the bride by 4 am. Meanwhile there was a call of Azan from the mosque and we thanked Allah for bestowing us the sense of punctuality at least for the Azan-call for prayers from the mosques.
As Wazwan was served, the usual order of serving the courses of meat was violated. Besides preparations like the ones covering the Trami the copper rice plate shared by four persons sitting around) i.e. Kababs, Tabakh maz, Chicken. Methi maz, Dhani phul, over six new varieties were served before the usual first course of meat preparation i.e. Rista was served. This was followed by many more courses and all of us were upset at the extravagance and lamented for being silent partners to this waste, but none of us had the moral courage to protest against this violation. Perhaps our sense of realization has died down and we have become slaves of our traditions burdened by showmanship and rat race. Since the guests could eat hardly 20 percent of the dishes served, we on our part persuaded one of us to carry the spared dishes to his home in a polythene bag. It was a great relief when he agreed to the proposal.
Most of the people claim that the frequency of marriage functions has increased perhaps due to increase in population. There is hardly a day left when invitation cards do not pour in and we have to find time to attend wedding functions where we get trapped for hours together, and it even encroaches on our sleeping time.
A few days back I faced another unique experience. The bridegroom along with a hundred guests was seated in a tent covered with fine transparent malmal cloth and the temperature seemed to be cold. Waiting for over an hour as dishes were warmed in a cold atmosphere, the guests almost shivered and they rushed for easing out in the urinals. The host was worried thinking that perhaps the guests were leaving under protest but he was soon relieved when he heard that the rush was towards the urinals. Besides the area being on a hillock, no one could run away at midnight due to fear of wild animals around. There were many more surprises waiting for us. On lifting the engraved copper lids from the trami, we found it completely covered with two oversized Tabakhmaz which was not seen by any one of us in our lifetimes before. So much so even one piece of it was more than what four people could share after having a tug of war to break it. Under this thick cover was a second layer of full sized chicken covering the third layer of Kababs, Dahani phol and Methi, which had crushed the poor rice under its two kg weight. After serving many more dishes, which we requested the waza to skip, including about half a dozen varieties of chicken preparations besides other usual meat servings, there was another surprise waiting for us – a long plate full of fried fish. Had this been served earlier, we would have preferred to fill our bellies with it. But alas, it arrival late!
To crown all this, the Gushtaba of abnormal size remained untouched obviously due to many reasons. One wonders how could a stomach of one to two litre capacity accommodate one to two kgs of meat and cereals in one go. The result was wastage of seventy percent preparation. This shows how much prudent we are when it comes to showmanship, extravagance and scoring points over others. Besides oversized pas-pass, the last surprise was a box of mint, a pack of chewing gum and a six inch long 3mm tooth-pick to remove any large pieces of meat struck in the omnivorous teeth. The feast ended with a double prayer (Hamud) – one for thanking Allah for bestowing us enough to eat and waste, the other was for thanking the dishes for leaving us safely to enable us to rush to our homes.
It is believed that Wazwan has its origin in Iran or Central Asia, but no traces of it are reportedly found there. It might have been a Kashmiri innovation like Kangri, Wagu, jajir etc. The Wazwan was a prudent way of serving meals devised by our ancestors, as instead of serving individuals separately, four people shared the same plate, which would lead to easier service besides closer contacts and also mutual sharing and enjoying the food. Each part of the lamb was utilized in preparation of a particular dish like the chest for preparing Tabakh maz, thighs for Dhani phul, Rista Gushtaba and Kababs; other parts for preparing Rogan josh, Korma etc. And the order of serving was, besides the coverings of the plate, first Rista, next Rogan josh,  then Cheese-Panir, Aab gosht,  Korma and Gushtaba. This would be just sufficient for four persons with 2 kgs of meat per plate with no wastage. Now we have resorted to more than double the quantity and some people are seen galloping down ten times more calories than the required ones and hence succumbing to the resultant frequent diseases. The average requirement of calories per person has been worked out to be only about 1600 per day. Assuming that the stomach lining is flexible, they fill their bellies in one go to their full extent with all solids salads, curd, half a dozen chatnis, plus ice cream and a tin of coke or pepsi  etc.
In spite of the recent dearth of meat due to boycott of the dealers, meat had been made available in plenty for marriages, which may be as much as 05 to 10 quintals per function which needs to be rechristened as Mazwan instead of Wazwan.
Once I happened to read the diary of an Australian tourist girl, who had recorded therein that she wondered how Kashmiri people would eat a plateful of rice when she could hardly take just a spoonful of it and even then her stomach got upset. On another occasion an official guest from Thailand refused to take a kabab, saying it would raise his cholesterol level, while our overweight Hon’ble Minister hosting the party consumed half a dozen kababs leaving the guest wondering.
In another function a French tourist shared wazwan with us. He disclosed that he is a Muslim convert, the reason being that he had got impressed by the simple burial given to King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. He saw it when he was there in the Saudi capital Ryadh. However, when he saw meat dishes being poured on our plate and getting stockpiled for disposal into dustbin, he said that had he known that Muslims waste food in such a manner, he would have reconsidered his decision to convert.
Let us pray that attention of preachers and medicos is drawn towards advising the common people about the plus and minus points of wazwan. They should make people aware that the number of calories found in the different courses of these preparations is against the average body requirement. Social organizations need to inculcate the sense of time among common people. The host gets handicapped when the guests come late and they have to wait for a mobile response signaling the start of service – the entrance of Tasht-Nari. The recent turmoil had made people to make amendments in timings, number of guests and number of dishes in Wazwan, but we seem to be again heading back to the square one.
It seems we have become slaves of rat-race and showmanship. If we can’t free ourselves from such petty issues, how can we tackle the bigger ones? A trend towards buffet service has also begun here but common people seem to be not in its favor.
In view of the extravagance, the new generation is adopting a revolutionary simplified approach of performing nikah ceremonies that are held in mosques with distribution of a few dates. The money wasted on Wazwan etc. serves for the future needs of the newly married couple or for distribution among the needy and downtrodden people.
(Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili Retired as Chief Engineer)




The Oxford dictionary describes music to be (1) sounds, tones, rhythm, singing, instrumentation, orchestration, harmonization, harmony, euphony,  cacophony, dissonance, counterpoint, polyphony etc.; (2) melody, tune, song, chorus, opera etc; (3) symphony, hornpipe, tango etc. (4) jazz, swing, rhythm and blues, pop, folk, rock etc, (5)  pitch, timbre, resonance, overtones, harmonies etc.


Nature is full of music. The chirping of birds, the sound of gushing waters of streams, waterfalls, rainfall, hissing sound of springs, blowing of winds through trees, buzzing of bees, crackling of frogs, singing of crickets, even warning sounds produced by mosquitoes before biting, communicating sounds produced by whales, lightening with thunder etc. all these confirm presence of different forms of sounds in natural environment.

Music has a stimulating effect on the brains of animals and human beings. It has been observed that cows produce more milk when surrounded with music, similarly bulls work more efficiently in music. Even plants grow faster in music as observed by me when I was a student of degree engineering in Annamalai University in 1959-63, where one Prof. TCN Singh was conducting research on this subject and was awarded by French University for his research.


 Music of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh

Kashmiri music reflects the rich musical heritage and cultural legacy of the Jammu & Kashmir region in India. Traditionally the music composed by ethnic Kashmiris has a wide range of musical influences in composition. Due to Kashmir’s close proximity to Central Asia, Eastern Asia and Southern Asia, a unique blend of music has evolved encompassing the music of the three regions. But, overall, Kashmiri Valley music is closer to Central Asian music, using traditional Central Asian instruments and musical scales, while music from Jammu is similar to that of North India and Ladakhi music is similar to the music of Tibet.


Chakri is one of the most popular types of folk music played in Jammu & Kashmir. Chakri is played with musical instruments like the harmonium, the rubab, the sarangi and the nout. Chakri was also used to tell stories like fairy tales or famous love stories such asYousuf-ZulaikhaLaila-Majnun, etc. Chakri ends with the rouf, though rouf is a dance form but few ending notes of Chakri which are played differently and on fast notes is also called Rouf. It is a very important part of the Henna Night during weddings for Kashmiri Pandits and the Kashmiri Muslims.

Rouf or Wanwun

Rouf is a traditional dance form usually performed by boys on certain important occasions like Eid, marriage and other functions. Rouf includes


Ladishah is one of the most important parts of the Kashmiri music tradition. Ladishah is a sarcastic form of singing. The songs are sung resonating to the present social and political conditions and are utterly humorous. The singers move from village to village performing generally during the harvesting period. The songs are composed on the spot on issues relating to that village, be it cultural, social or political. The songs reflect the truth and that sometimes makes the song a bit hard to digest, but they are totally entertaining.

Sufiana Kalam

Sufiana Kalam is the classical music of Kashmir, which uses its own ragas (known as maqam), and is accompanied by a hundred-stringed instrument called the santoor, along with the Kashmiri sazwasooltabalasetar and harmonium. Sufiana Kalam has been popular in Kashmir since arriving from Iran in the 15th century and has been the music of choice for Kashmiri Sufi mystics. The dance based on the sofiyiana kalam is the hafiz nagma.


Music and musical instruments find mention in the earliest texts like the Nilmatapurana and Rajatarangini by Kalhana. The very fact that it was a KashmiriAbhinavagupta (the great philosopher), who wrote a commentary called Abhinavabharati on Bharata’s Natyashatra shows how much importance was given to music in the ancient times. The most popular folk instrument is the santoor (Shat-tantri-veena), a hundred string percussion instrument which is played by the goddess Sharada (the goddess of learning and art in ancient Kashmir). Henzae and Wanvun is a music form sung by Kashmiri Pandits on religious and cultural festivals and in weddings.

The most notable Kashmiri santoor player from Kashmir is Pt. Bhajan Sopori. Pt. Bhajan Sopori, has also given santoor recitals in Iran, from where this instrument has originated. However. the Kashmiri santoor looks and sounds different from the original Persian santur and Bhajan Sopori’s ancestors were key in adapting the santoor.

Ladakh region

One of the main features of a Ladakh marriage is the recitation of lengthy narratives by singers in unusual costumes. Popular dances in Ladakh include the Khatok Chenmo (only when headed by an aristocratic family member), Kompa Tsum-tsak (meaning three successive steps), Jabro (dance steps from western Ladakh), Chaams (sacred dance by lamas), Chabs-Skyan Tses (dance carrying a pot), Raldi Tses (swordsmanship dance) and alley yaato (Zanskari Dance and Song Sequence).

Traditional music includes the instruments surna and daman (shenai and drum). The music of Ladakhi Buddhist monastic festivals, like Tibetan music, often involves religious chanting in Tibetan or Sanskrit as an integral part of the religion. These chants are complex, often recitations of sacred texts or in celebration of various festivals. Yang chanting, performed without metrical timing, is accompanied by resonant drums and low, sustained syllables. Religious mask dances are an important part of Ladakh’s cultural life. Hemis monastery, a leading centre of the Drukpa tradition of Buddhism, holds an annual masked dance festival, as do all major Ladakhi monasteries. The dances typically narrate a story of the fight between good and evil, ending with the eventual victory of the former.[9]Weaving is an important part of traditional life in eastern Ladakh. Both women and men weave, on different looms.[10] Typical costumes include gonchas of velvet, elaborately embroidered waistcoats and boots and hats. The Ladakh Festival is held every year from September 1 to 15. Performers adorned with gold and silver ornaments and turquoise headgear throng the streets. Monks wear colorful masks and dance to the rhythm of cymbals, flutes and trumpets. The yak, lion and Tashispa dances depict the many legends and fables of Ladakh. Buddhist monasteries sporting prayer flags, display of thankas, archery competitions, a mock marriage and horse-polo are the some highlights of this festival


Folk music of Kashmir

The valley of Kashmir which is surrounded by the snow-clad Himalayas is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. It is a vast expanse of flat country with rich alluvial soil, lofty and glacial mountains, crystal streams, lofty crags, torrents, broad lakes, shady Chinar groves and pine forests. Kashmir’s picturesque beauty has been immortalized in paintings, songs and poetry. The culture of Kashmir is distinct and diverse, encompassing the various habits and lifestyles of the people inhabiting in it’s region. During their long periods of independence, isolation and solidarity, the people of Kashmir developed a unique culture making everlasting contributions to learning and literature. For a long time, Kashmir was a separate kingdom, and the history of Kashmir is a chronicle of Kings and courts. The history and tradition of folk music and dance in Kashmir valley goes back to thousands of years


Instruments Used with the Traditional Music of Kashmir

In this chapter, I have written about the instruments which are used with the folk music of Kashmir, followed by the description of those instruments which are used with the Sufiana Mousiqui. The history of the instruments, the technique of playing, and the material they are made of and much more has been discussed in the Chapter.
Raj Tarangini mentions specifically about the art of music and musical instruments in this region in distant past. The ancient musical instruments used in Kashmir had been more or less a reflection of the Indian musical instruments in usage during that time.
According to Pandit Kalhana, the folk musical instruments like earthen pots, brass vessels etc. were used by Kashmiri people from very early times. In Kashmir 4th century A.D. tile, found during excavation from Harwan, is showing the impression of a female musician playing on a drum. The other person is shown playing a veena in an artistic pastime. The king Bhiksacara (1120-21) A.D., who himself played these instruments was fond of “Chhakri” (folk choral singing) which continues to be popular in Kashmir valley since Kalhana’s time and even earlier to that.
Raj Tarangini mentions an instrument called “Hadukka” which can be compared to a big pipe.
According to B.C. Deva, the string instruments, Rabat) and Sarangi, came to Kashmir with the influence of Muslims. The whole subcontinent was affected by the culture of the new rulers. In music, we came across new Ragas, new styles and new instruments like Rabab and Sarangi. Rabab traveled with the bards and minstrels of Afghanistan and joined the folk group instruments in Kashmir. Some scholars say that it must have been introduced into Kashmir at the time of Zain-ul-Abidin. The most popular instrument used in folk music is the Rabab, which was borrowed from Persia.
Both the instruments, Rabab and Sarangi, used in folk music ‘Chhakri’ from 14th century onwards opened a new chapter in Kashmir for music and its musical instruments. According to V .N. Bhatkhande, the Muslim rulers had brought with them their own system of music with n­ew melodies, new interpretations, new types of songs and new Talas, which in course of time got fused with Hindu music and gave rise to modern Hindustani music. In a similar way, artists from Central Asia, during Sultanate period brought with them their art, music, musical instruments and culture resulting in wonderful interaction which in course of time gave birth to Kashmiri classical music which is known as Sufiana Mosiqui. It borrowed its style from Persian music. The cultural interaction has resulted in a unique form and an interesting synthesis of the various types of classical music preserved by Kashmir. It was in this period that the Kashmiri music reached the heights of perfection under the patronage of rulers and saints. Many improvements were brought out in the conventional instruments to render them more useful to the art. The instruments like Santoor, Saaz, Setar, Rabab and Sarangi are resultant inventions and innovations and denote the developments, which took place during this period.
The musical instruments have played a key role in the evolution of Kashmiri Sufiana Mosiqui. This mosiqui has deep impression on the listener and it is in the nature of very serious music. The Kalam or the verses are also peculiar and this style of music has been very selective in this respect. Similar is the case of instruments used in this Mousiqui, which have been selected with due thought. The instruments used by the sufiana musicians are quite different from those used in Indian Classical Music, Kashmiri folk music and other styles. The prominent instruments include Santoor, Kashmiri Setar (Sehtar) and Saaz-i-Kashmir, the percussion instrument for providing rhythmic variety is Tabla which replaced/Wasul or a Dolke called Dokra, used previously.

1.0 Tumbaknari

Tumbak has been a musical instrument in the good olden days in Iran and Central Asia, which was being played mostly by the women folk of these places. Many authors believe that such instrument is being used in Iran and Arabia too. May be it has come to Kashmir from these places, for the simple reason that visitors and rulers were coming to Kashmir in the olden days from Iran and middle east, which besides other things made cultural invasion on the art of Kashmir. Co-incidently, this instrument is also being played by the women folk in Kashmir, the only difference is that in Iran or Central Asia, it is now being made of wood, while in Kashmir, it is still being made of baked clay maintaining its originality. This type of instrument is used for keeping rhythm and also time that covers in a performance of music.
Dr. Rahullah-Khaliqui has written in page no. 403 of his book ‘Serguzashti Mousiqui-Iran’ about the style of playing this instrument in Iran. In Iran, this instrument is called Tumbakh or Tunbak. In west, it is tumbal or tumbari and in Kashmir, it is tumbaknaeer. The naer is added because the tail end of this instrument is like a pipe, which in Kashmiri, is called a Nore, which has in course of time, changed to naer, making the instrumental tumbaknaer. It is generally used by women folk at various occasions of merriment like marriages, Yagnopavit etc. It is struck by the fingertips to produce the desired harmonious rhythm. 
iused at farms especially on weeding of paddy crops, when rice plants are required to be freed of the unnecessary growth of vegetation. At these weeding operations, the farmers and their women folk used to sing collectively to overcome the monotonous work, using Thalej as rhythm maintainer.

 2.0 Sarang (Sarangi)

It is a stringed musical instrument played with a bow and it is in vogue in three types:

The first type is smaller in size and is used in Kashmir under the name of Sarang, which as per a belief (local) is the invention of Maharaja Sarang Dev’s time (Sarang Dev was a king of Kashmir).
The second type is slightly bigger in size than the Kashmiri Sarang and is mostly used in Bengal for Bengali music.
The third type is a full size and standard Sarangi used in Indian classical music. Its size is roughly three feet long and about eight inches wide. It has four main strings and about thirty five sympathetic side strings known as Taraba in musical language and most of them are made of steel and brass.

3.0 Kashmiri Sarang

Kashmiri Sarang is very simple in structure. It is made of a block of wood, preferably of mulberry or teakwood. The entire body is hollow from inside with two combined parts. Both the sides of the lower part are punched and the whole is covered with hide. The upper part serves the purpose of a fingerboard. Commonly its length is one and a half feet. It has two strings of gut, one of steel and another of coiled brass (making four mains trings). Besides it has eight or ten sympathetic wires/strings of steel known as ‘terban’.
It is played with a bow, made of a hard round stick of wood, to which hair of the tail of horse are fixed at both the ends, and a small wooden triangular but curved bridge is placed at one end to keep the hair light. The bow is held in the right hand and moved from one end to the other, vertically on the main strings to produce sound. The fingers namely fore, middle, ring and sometimes the little finger are used to produce notes of different pitch at different length of different strings. The fingers however do not press down the strings on the fingerboard, but are simply touched at the starting place with nails of each finger of the left hand, thus the musical notes are produced.
Besides Kashmir, in the hilly areas of Himachal Pradesh, the playing of this Sarang is common. It is also popular among the tribals of Bihar. In northern India, Sarang, besides being played with the bow-shaped stick, is also played with the ‘Kanishtha’ (the little finger) and ‘anamika’ (the finger between the middle and the little finger) of the left hand. The playing on this instrument is known as ‘purva’.

4.0 Gagar

Gagar is a well known word in the Indian languages. Gagar is made of brass. In Kashmiri Hindu society, Gagar has a cultural importance.
In Kashmir also, at the time of Herath Festival, Gagar has an important role to play. Gagar is placed on the bangle shaped circle made of dry paddy straw which is placed on the floor, washed with clay. The Gagar is half filled with dry nuts. Then Lord Shiva and Shakti are worshipped. Thus, it can clearly be understood that Gagar holds valuable place in the religious festivals in Kashmir. It is also used in homes for storing water by Hindus and Muslims both.
The same Gagar is used with the music of Kashmir. The artist put iron rings in his fingers of the left hand and places his hand on Gagar while striking Gagar with the right hand. The sound produced is very high and thus Gagar plays an important role in creating the musical environment in the gatherings.
During festivals and temple kirtan, playing of Gagar is of great importance. Gagar might have its origin in Vedic time.

5.0 Nagada

Nagada is an instrument resembling ‘Dhola’. It has many names, like Nakkara, Nagada, Dugdugi etc. in Indian languages. According to B. Chaitanyadeva, Nagada is a changed form of the ancient Dundubhi. In Himachal Pradesh also, its similar form and structure can be found: its upper side is covered with leather of goat. Nagada is slightly smaller than the ‘Nobat’ instruments. The instrument ‘Nagadi’ is also played with it. This instrument is struck with a piece of wood and the sound is produced, it is in demand in the temples.
In Kashmir, it is used during festivals and marriage ceremonies. Mainly it is used with the ‘bhand jashan and ‘bhand natya’. It is used during paddy harvesting. The farmers consider it as an energy booster during their tiring task of farming.

6.0 Dhola

Dhola has its own history in the musical instruments of India. The first form can be traced in the Mohan Jodaro culture. One of the oldest instruments of India, Dhola is mainly traced in the villages and every state of India.
In Kashmir, it is mainly used in villages and it is mostly played with the folk dance of the bhands.

7.0 Shankh

One of the ancient instruments of India, Shankh, the sushirvadya, is associated with religious functions. In Athar­Veda, one finds reference to Shankh, though it existed long, before. In Bhagvad Gita, during the time of war, Shankh had played an important role. One finds that Shankh has been called by different names like Panch Janya Shankh, Devadatt Shankh, Mahashan Ponder Shankh and more. Even in Valmiki’s Ramayna, the mention of a Shankh can be traced.
In Kashmiri Hindu culture, Shankh is an instrument, which is played both in temples and homes.
In the temples, Shankh is played in the mornings and evenings during the prayers. In homes, it is played before the starting of havan, yagnopavit, marriage, etc. in Kashmiri Hindu marriage, Shankh is played by a person to mark the arrival of the groom. After reaching the bride’s place, the groom is made to stand on the ‘rangoli’ and Shankh is played constantly. At times, when the bride’s parents take much time to see her off, then Shankh is played to indicate the late departure, so that they hurry up. Shankh is used as the proclamation and declaration of war, victory and religious ceremonies.
Shankh has a vital role in ‘Leela’ singing. It gives religious touch to the occasions as if gods and the goddesses are summoned in a special way to make an appearance to the devotees worshipping.

8.0 Swarnai

Swar-nai, a ‘sushir vadya’, holds an important place in the folk music of Kashmir. This instrument has been mentioned in Nilamata Purana and in Kalhana’s Raj Tarangini. Swarnai holds the same place in Kashmir folk music as the Shahnai in the Indian music. This is the reason, why Swarnai is also called Shahnai in Kashmiri music.
Swar-nai is made of two words-Swar and Nai. The structure of Swarnai is slightly bigger in size as compared to Shahnai. This instrument is made of wood and its makers are the traditional makers of Swarnai. It has nine holes near the round mouth of Swarnai, there is a till type square through which the player blows the air. This is also called, Tulbarabir Tulkarav, in Kashmiri language.
The playing of Swarnai is considered very auspicious. in Kashmiri culture. This musical instrument is deeply related to marriages, festivals, shivratri, navreh, Id and other auspicious occasions of Hindus as well as Muslims. It is also used by bhands while performing in folk drama-­’Lok Natya’. Besides this, it is also widely used in ‘bachi naghma’ folk dance. During the harvest, the players of Swarnai go to farms and perform entertaining music to entertain the farmers and collect the crop for themselves. This way, melodious Swarnai is widely used in the folk music culture of Kashmir.

9.0 Khasya

In Kashmiri folk music, round cup made of bronze is called khos’. Usually khos is used for drinking Kahva (a type of Kashmiri tea) in Kashmiri Hindu families. Beneath the round form of Khos is smaller round portion on which it stands. Khasya is the plural form of Khos. Whenever there is a religious gathering, marriage or yagnopavit, Tumbaknar, Ghat, two Khasya are played with both the hands. The Hindu women are more proficient in playing it. It is a ‘Ghan Vadya’. The sound is produced by striking both the Khasya with each other.

10.0 Thaluz

Thaluz is a Kashmiri word. The instrument is called by different names in different regions of north and south­Jhanjh, Jhalari, Manjir, Thali Kans, Kanjaam, Illatalam, etc.
This instrument can be seen in temples of north and south during religious prayers in the mornings.
ashmiri Thaluz is made of bronze, its round portion is around 13 cms. 30 cms. It is widely used in the folk functions of Kashmir. Thaluz is mentioned in Kalhana’s Raj tarangini and Nilamata Purana. The use of instrument is mainly confined to the temples. On Saturday nights, in temples of Kashmir, usually Jagrans’ are performed and many musical groups do kirtans, the whole night. Thaluz is then played by the performers, to summon the diety in invocation to the place ofworship.

11.0 Rabab

The word ‘Rabab’ is pronounced as Rabab in Persian and Rabab in Arabic, which in Arabic is Rab-O-Raba; literary meaning to collect, to make available, to arrange or to manage.
It has been controversial to assert about the origin of Rabab, which was however initially played with a bow but now it is played with a mizrab precisely with a plectrum.
One school of thought suggests that this instrument has been brought to India from the middle East by the foreign intruders perhaps by Sokandar Zulqurmein in the past. Others suggest that Tansen, the celebrated musician invented it, as is mentioned in Ain-i-Akbari. Abu Naser­farabi is of the opinion that this instrument, originally played with a bow, was in fact successfully tried and played with a mizrab later on, in Middle East. One more lover and thinker of music Aullya-Chalbi of Arabia is of the opinion that Rabab was made in Arabia by one Abdullah before the birth of Prophet Mohammad of Islam.
However, in the encyclopedia of music, by A-Lavience, Rabab is said to be an Indian musical instrument, which was existing before 5000 BC during the time of king Ravana and was then known as Ravanastram, the strings of which were made from the guts of deer. Again, one more English ­author Rawlinson has written in his book ‘ancient Monarchies’ that Rabab was made in Iran. Nothing can be said authentically about its origin but it is one of the oldest stringed musical instruments known in the field o music, though it has undergone many changes in its form structure and manner of playing
The present day Rabab is made of seasoned mulberry wood. It is about three to three and a half feet in length. One end of the body is round and the diameter is about a foot. The round part is covered with parchment. This round part gradually joins the neck by becoming curved and narrow.
A piece of very thin wood is fixed at the top of the open part to cover it that serves the purpose of the fingerboard of the instrument. Four guts of different thickness are used in it as strings, in place of metal strings. The entire body of instrument is hollow from inside. It is played with a plectrum made of coconut shell, bone or of any hard metal.

12.0 Noet

It is a simple earthenware pot, usually for collection of water in rural India. Now a days it is usually made of brass or copper, but for musical purposes only the earthenware pot is traditionally used in Kashmiri music. It has a big round belly having a small open round mouth at the upper portion. It is the oldest type of drum variety known to the mankind.
In shape, the Noet of Kashmir is not different from the Ghatam of the South or the Matki of Rajasthan. They are used as the instruments in the music in those state which proves the fact that they might have begun their journey from the same cultural background. Their skill and style of playing might have differed in accordance with the traditions prevalent in respective regions.
In Kashmiri language, the original words ‘Kalash’ or ‘Ghat’ might have lost their existence and Noet might have gained popularity due to the fact that it was associate, with ‘uV'(nat). in due course of time the word ‘nat kalash might have lost the word ‘kalash’ and become popular as ‘noet’. Such reference has been made in Nilmata Purana
(i.e. reasted clay pot players-Bhands)
Kalhana in Raj Tarangini frequently refers to this instrument.
(they played on their balded heads exactly as the earthen pot instruments were played).
The tradition is maintained by the natives living in, the distant rural areas of Kashmir, who spend their evenings in practicing this ancient art. The name of Mohan Lal Aima is worth mentioning here, who did a deep and thorough study of Noet playing and thus revived the art and its ­importance for us.

13.0 Nai (Flute)

In Kashmiri language, the normal meaning of ‘Nai’ is related to flute. In Kashmiri folk music, the prevalence of Nai is older than two thousand years as we get its description in Nilamata Purana.
“Punyahved shabdin vansi venurvenaya sut magadh shabden tatha vandisvanenc”
Nilamata Purana described banshi as well as venu and in the modern era even the Kashmiri artists, especially of Anantnag, are proficient in playing two types of flutes.

1. The first type of flute is empty from inside and there are seven holes for seven swaras. While playing it, fingers of both the hands are used. This type of flute is more prevalent in the folk life.
2. The second type of flute is also called ‘Pi-Pi’ in Kashmiri language. This type of flute is made of walnut’s wood. Even this flute has seven holes but the hole from where the air is blown is absent, but its adjacent hole is put into the mouth and blown. The player sees the seven holes clearly. This instrument is used more conveniently and the player does not get tired soon. This type of flute is more famous in Kashmir

14.0 Santoor

Among the musical instruments, Santoor occupies an important place in Kashmiri music. Soofiana singing is not possible without its accompaniments. These days, it is joining popularity even outside Kashmir. Its sweet tappings create a feeling of romantic mood whereas its soft tunes remind of the transquality of the other world, which suits the mysticial temperament of soofiana music. This instrument emits loud and enchanting sounds. It requires subtle sense of turning on the part of the musicians who play it, with both hand using two sticks of twenty four centimeters called ‘Kalan’. It is debatable whether Santoor is a native instrument of Kashmir or has been brought from abroad. Opinions differ. Some scholars view that it belongs to Iran. Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma claims that he was the first ever Santoor maestro who brought it to classical stage. Santoor is being used for mousiqui in Kashmir since thirteenth century. But, that does not prove the fact that it came from abroad and its origin could not be Kashmir thirteen centuries before Christ. Reference to Shat-tantri veena is available at several places. It might have been the original form of Santoor and in due course, might have changed to the present form. The technique of performance, linguistically analyzing ‘Shat’ word must have traveled to `Sat’ and then to ‘Sant; and ‘tantri to ‘tantar’ to ‘trir’ and finally to ‘toor’. Both together must have become `Santoor’. Had it been from foreign origin, it would have brought the name along.
Santoor is made of mulberry wood. Some scholars believe it to be related to Shakt sect. According to Shakts, triangular is a symbol of desire, knowledge and action.
They have referred to the Shakt instruments, several times, and believed that goddess Mahashakti should be worshipped accompanying these instruments. The base on which Santoor is placed is also the same shape.
Mulberry tree in Kashmir has a religious value. It is related to ‘Bhairav’. In every ‘Bhairav’ temple, mulberry tree is parted with vermilion and people worship it devotedly. In Khirbhavani, the famous Shakt pilgrimage, the goddess is sitting on the mulberry tree. The very pilgrimage is called ‘tulnuri’ meaning ‘root of mulberry’.
The shape of Santoor is trapezoid. Its right side is called ‘burn’ and the left ‘Jil’. Twelve wires on right side are of brass and those on the left are of iron. There are also twelve nobs on the right and twelve on the left side. Four wires are fixed to each nob. The production of the tune depends on the nobs. Twelve brass wires remind us of soft and sweet Shakt emotion and the throbbing tune of iron wires remind us of hard appearance of Shiva himself. The number of wires in total is ninety six. At the tune of yagnopavit, the priest wraps the holy thread ninety six times around his palm. The number is significant in itself. The tops of the nobs are inlaid in the horns of stag. This animal is found in Kashmir alone.
Twentieth century leading player of Santoor has been Tibat Bakal. At present Saz Naivaz, Kaleem, Shekh Abdul Aziz are known for their style of playing. Pandit Bhajan Sopori is making it popular on classical stage and popularizing it all over the world.

15.0 Saaz-i-Kashmir

Saaz had not originated from Kashmir. Since it has remained in vogue in Kashmir for centuries without any major modification, people preferred to call it Saaz-i-Kashmir or the musical instrument devised in Kashmir. It is played with bow, as such it is easier for the player to get microtones out of it.
According to Rouhulla Khalighi, Saaz in Persia is called Kamancha. It is the same instrument called Saaz in Kashmir and is played by a bow. He again states that the instrument has now been replaced by the violin as it is more complete. There are very few people who can play the Kamancha now-a-days.
Saaz is found all over the Islamic world and it originated from the north Iranian district, Kudristan. This type of instrument (Three stringed fiddle) is mentioned as early as the tenth century AD, by the great theorist Al Farabi. The instrument is found elsewhere in the Middle east also. Since the Kashmir Saaz is more developed and complicated, that is why people have named it as Saaz­i-Kashmir. The Iranian use this instrument for vocal accompaniment.
Saaz-i-Kashmir has three prominent strings, two made of silk. The silk string is made worthy of producing musical sound by mixing it with the skin of fish. It is tuned to Sa, while the 2nd one is tuned to SA (middle octave). The third one is not made use of, as it is not touched by the bow. On either side of the dand, there are seven strings (right side) made of steel and seven strings (left side) made of brass. Right side resonance strings are tuned respectively from Pa to Ma, whereas that of the left side from Sa to Ni (middle octave).

16.0 Setar/Sehtar

The invention of Sitar is commonly credited to Amir Khusrau, scholars, generally, refer to him as the originator of Indian Classical Sitar. Some others are of the opinion that musicians adopted Tritantri Veena and improved upon it and created Sitar. The theory which is widely accepted is that Sehtar was the instrument brought by Amir Khusrao from Iran. According to Bimal Mukherjee (The History and Origin of Sitar), by the 11th or 12th century the second Sitar had emerged, an instrument, to accompaniment to vocal music and later also as an independent instrument. A little later there was a series of Muslim invasions on north. The invaders mostly Persians and Turks, were not only brave warriors but also loved finer things of life like music. Some of them had brought along with a small instrument with three strings called Sehtar, meaning three strings. Even Abul Fazal says that another instrument called Been was like Yantra and contained three strings.
Probably the word Sitar is derived from this Sehtar. The Sitar which resembles the Persian Tambura or ud, in shape, and the Indian Veena, in principle, is itself a fusion and an epitome of the Indo-Persian culture and civilization.
Despite this opinion, same authors say that it is a gradual process of development from Tritantri Veena. Others say that the invention of Sitar is attributed to Amir Khusrao and that is probably of Persian origin. Kashmiri Sehtar or Sitar is said to be original model of Indian Sitar. This instrument is now however, comparable to Indian Sitar of these days and retains its originality. The Kashmiri Sehtar is the original instrument accompanying Sufiana Kalaam or Mousiqui which came to Kashmir from Central Asia.
Sitar is a long neck plucked lute, similar to the Persian Sitar. Curt Sach is of the view that the Arabs call it the largest variety. ‘Tanbur Kabir Turki’ or large Turkish lute. The Persian, however, do not use the word Tunbur and they designate the stringed instrument by the word Tar. This is why the people mostly called it Persian Sitar. This type of Sehtar or Sitar was widely used in Kashmir. In villages (especially in Wahthora, where jesters called Bhand live) Sufiana musicians would use Kashmiri Sitar for accompaniment of this Mousiqui. This musical instrument is specially meant for accompaniment purpose for Sufian Mousiqui unlike the Indian Sitar which is used for solo purpose only. Gradually the Sitar had come to acquire five strings by stages and the number has recently increased to seven strings. The Structure of Kashmiri Sitar is as under: it has Dand which in some is 2 wide over which frets made of threads are fixed, a Tumba which is either made of wood or that of gourd. Tumba is about one third to one fourth of the size of Indian Sitar (Tumba).

17.0 Wasul/Dokra/Tabla

Wasul or Dokra is the only percussion instrument used in Sufiana Mousiqui. Wasul is a double membrane barrel shaped drum used in Sufiana Kalam, until some seventy years ago. It is played in a manner similar to Tabla and provides the rhythm of Maqamat in Sufiana Mousiqui. About a decade ago, the Research Library Srinagar, published two manuscripts of music (Tarana Saroor and Karamat-i-Mujra) with some old paintings of musicians. One such painting was printed opposite maqam-i-Dhanasri. This painting has pictures of:

1. Two Hafizas dancers wearing Peshwaz (special dress in Kashmir for both male and female dancers).
2. Two musicians with a Sitar and Tabla type Wasul.
3. Two musicians, one carrying Sitar.

This clearly shows that Wasul had been in use as Rhythm instrument earlier to Tabla and had primacy over Tabla.
Originally Tabla had some other shape and was called Mridanga. Mridanga is accompanied with the Carnatic music. Later on, Mridanga was divided into two pieces and after undergoing modification it became the modern Tabla.
Under the later Indian influence Wasul or Dokra was completely substituted and replaced by Indian Tabla. Tabla has been found to be more convenient, easier and a suitable instrument as compared to Wasul. Sufiana Musicians have completely given up Dokra or Wasul and have adopted Tabla. Therefore, there is hardly any person who knows the playing of these instruments, as they have become totally extinct.


The loss of independence and the decay of Sultanate affected adversely the harmonious growth of the peculiar traits in the art of music which was the pride of Kashmiri Sultanate. The Shahmir Sultans in general, but Zainul Abidin, Haidar Shah and hasan Shah in particular were great patrons of art. Yousuf Shah Chak and Habba Khatun were fond of music and could play on various instruments. Mirza Haidar Douglat also enriched the music of Kashmir by various instruments.

In spite of linguistic difference, the Mughals patronized the musicians and rewarded them from time to time. Akbar had a group of kashmiri musicians at his court. Jahangir, Shahijahan and Aurangzeb rewarded the musicians and ministrels at the time of their arrival in the Subah, But towards the close of his reign, Aurangzeb directed the Subahdars to discourage the musicians and take away their instruments.

Saints, Sufis and local mystics were very fond of classical music and the art thus was patronized by them.

Kashmiri music had three distinct forms, Sufiana Musiqi, Chakri and Sahrai. The Sufiana Musiqi never filtered down to the masses. Sufiana music flourished because of the sufis, who not only patronized this art, but were also fond of it, and remained the privilege of the aristocracy only. It is no wonder that it still retains the feudal characteristics. Chakri (group songs) and Sahrai styles were patronized by the common people. Here it may be mentioned that the services of the Baghats (scattered all over the Subah)  were required by the peasantry at the time of marriage ceremonies. This class of ministrels performed jashans in honor of the emperors and Subahdars at the time of their arrival.

Saz, santoor, Sitar and Dukra were the instruments required for Sufiana music. Daf, Sarangi, lute and earthen pitcher were common musical instruments.

Khwaja Moomin Jaheel and Moulana Khwaja Mohammad were two famous critics of music of our period. Khwaja Moomin Jaheel was son of Abul Qasim Jaheel. Jaheel was  pupil of Mulla Jawhar Nanta famous musician of his time. Moomin Jaheel was a close associate of Yousuf Shah Chak, who was himself a lover of music. He has written a treatise on music also. Moulana Mohammad was the pupil of Khwaja Moomin. He excelled in this art during the reign of Shahjahan.

Among the Sufi saints, Baba Dawood Khaki approved of sama, which his preceptor Shaikh Hamza denounced. Baba Dawood urged that sama stimulates love when heard within the limits prescribed by the Sufi masters. Similarly Khwaja Habibullah Nowshehri the disciple of Shaikh Yaqub Sarfi used to hear sama. When a complaint was lodged in the court of ruler against him regarding the sama considered to be against Shariah and a team came to inspect his place. Khwaja directed his men to shut the instruments inside the cupboards, when the inspection team arrived, the instruments started to play of themselves, on which the Qazi of the time had to surrender.

There are several Persian books in the manuscript form on music in the library of J&K Cultural Academy Srinagar.


The historic event of world famous musician Zubin Mehta along with his team of orchestra playing the music concert in the historic Shalimar Garden Srinagar on 7th September 2013 has been viewed live by 140 countries and reminded the world that Kashmiris though sobbing for decades together still crave for peace, which could be brought through music, that lulls and pacifies even the crying babies before their mothers send them to sleep.

                                Quotations about Music


A painter paints pictures on canvas.  But musicians paint their pictures on silence.  ~Leopold Stokowski

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.  ~Berthold Auerbach

All deep things are song.  It seems somehow the very central essence of us, song; as if all the rest were but wrap pages and hulls!  ~Thomas Carlyle

If the King loves music, it is well with the land.  ~Mencius

Without music life would be a mistake.  ~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons.  You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music.  ~Gustav Mahler

Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass?  ~Michael Torke

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs
And as silently steal away.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Day Is Done

He who sings scares away his woes.  ~Cervantes

Music was my refuge.  I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.  ~Maya Angelou, Gather Together in My Name

Were it not for music, we might in these days say, the Beautiful is dead.  ~Benjamin Disraeli

Music is what feelings sound like.  ~Author Unknown