Thursday, April 9, 2015


Annual ‘Reh’ youth festival held in Delhi

, TNN | Apr 3, 2015, 12.46PM IST
NEW DELHI: It's been more than a quarter of a century since Kashmiri Pandits' exodus from the valley. Pandits' long pending demands for a separate homeland seem quite out of sight, but their efforts to preserve their culture are quite visible, especially in forms of rituals and annual festivals. 'Reh', the annual youth festival is in its fifth year now and this year's lineup of performers include not only professional singers but two children who come from migrant camps in Jammu. 

It is for the Vishal (14) and Vishali (16), siblings born in Jammu's migrant camps, where a large Kashmiri Pandit population, displaced after violence in early 1990s had shifted and continues to live till today. The siblings' family originally lived in Pulwama. Organisers say that through the festival, organized by Kashmiri Pandit youth, they're trying to provide the siblings with a platform which their otherwise poor financial condition isn't likely to get them. 

"The young boy has performed in a television channel before, his sister hasn't. Both are amateur singers with a lot of talent and we're invited them here to help them showcase it. Crowd pullers like King Paul Singh, noted Bollywood singer, will also be part of the festival. Our aim through the festival is to preserve our culture and our language along with the youth," said Amit Raina, coordinator, Roots in Kashmir (RIK). 

The annual 'Reh' youth festival has been held in KECSS grounds, Pamposh enclave for the last four years. It is held around the Pandit New Year - Navreh - to get the new Pandits together and celebrate their culture. Navreh, is loosely translated in Kashmiri as the New Fire or Light, so Reh alone is a celebration of light. 

"We started this idea of getting the young Kashmiri Pandits together and involved in our cultural celebrations. For the start we got Kashmiri folk songs for the audience we didn't quite work as we intended. Then we added some rock into it and brought out this fusion of new age rock with old style Kashmiri folk and most of our audience got hooked to it. It's been a pleasure being part of this celebration from then on," said Ashish Zutshi, of Roots in Kashmir (RIK) that has been organising this festival. 

The festival has been drawing increasing number of people. The first festival held in 2011, had an attendance of 350 people, about 600 people participated in the last year's Reh. Organisers say that more than 900 people are expected to attend this year's Reh, which will be held on April 4.

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