Bhand Pather: Kashmiri artist on mission to revitalize traditional folk theatre

Bhand Pather: Kashmiri artist on mission to revitalize traditional folk theatre

While the “Bhand Pather” a traditional folk theatre of Kashmir is dying with each passing day in the valley, a young Kashmiri artist, Rayees Wathoori who hails from central Kashmir’s Budgam district has started a mission to breathe it again. Notably, Bhand Pather is an age-old traditional folk theatre of Kashmir. It is usually held in open spaces. It belongs to the oral tradition in which the scripts are handed down from one generation to the other following Guru Shishya Parampara.

The vocabulary used in Bhand Pather has connections to the Vakhs and Shrukhs of the great medieval and modern mystics of Kashmir. It acted as a mirror to society at a time when there was no media. It spread awareness, exposed wrongdoings, highlighted issues and much more. It was a good source of entertainment those days as it was being done in open space and people would gather around them to watch. People used to stay healthy too back then because they would get entertainment in pure form.

any artists in the Kashmir valley believe that art is fading day by day due to the negligence of authorities. Even many talented artists have not taught art to their children, willingly. It is facing a difficult time as the lack of employment opportunities is hindering youth from connecting with traditional culture. However, artist Rayees is on a mission to revive and make it relevant in the modern world. The artist said that he is trying to present it in a different way and deliver messages on many social issues through it.

“I am trying to revive it through all possible ways and I hope with the help of administration I can do it,” he said, adding that the art is facing tough periods as people associated with it are distancing themselves from it. Citing its disappearance reason as the lack of a script, he said that due to the scarcity of scriptwriters, the art form has become less popular and that’s why it facing hardships now.

Furthermore, the artist said that lack of the government attention towards art also led to its tough period. Rayees said that there should be proper government policy in place to provide relief to artists associated with the art so that more and more interesting people can join it.

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