Thursday, December 5, 2013




I am happy to hear that Raj Begum ( Born 1927 ) has been conferred the prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy Puruskar 2013. It is the highest recognition given to practicing Artists in the fields of Drama ,Music and Dance . She is already  a  recipient of Padam Shri  honour .

With her captivating voice , this 86 years old living legend has enthralled kashmiris within and outside the state . She has sung almost all prominent poets of kashmir .Her solo songs , Duets , Group songs are a heritage treasure . From a Wedding singer, she rose to become an Icon of Culture and Music in Kashmir. Not songs , She sang the culture of Kashmir and regaled generations of kashmiris .

I have known her since 1979. She would come for Banking related work to our Bank only. She gave enormous respect to  my immediate Boss and saintly person late Shamboo Nath Kaul ( From Bandipore kashmir ) with whom she confided almost every financial secret of her family. And this pious man never shared anything with any person . I could always feel that She was not  on a strong footing financially . She also asked for a Loan once .
And one day late Shamboo Nath Ji Kaul told me

“ If I am not in the Bank and Raj Begum comes for any work, Treat her like my sister and Help her . Sarswati flows through her mouth . ”

I did follow late Shamboo Nath Ji’s words .

Lately During my Posting as Chief , Retail Banking Hub Kashmir Valley , I was happy to see that Raj Begum had her pension account with our Bank only. I met her three or  four times later as and when she would come to draw her pension. During this second interaction with her ( which started in 2008 ), I never told her anything about late Shamboo Nath kaul or her old dealings with the Bank.She also appeared to be a little withdrawn .
About the new generation of  singers in kashmir  she once  said..
“I am happy to see them around as some of them are quite talented and sing well.Some of them have excellent voice and have worked hard also . I am a little  pained to find that a good number of these   singers from young generation have little  knowledge of good kashmiri poetry and traditional kashmiri music and the accompanying instruments .”

 About Raj begum ,  Noted singer Arti Tiku Kaul adds..
 “ She is an artist who touched millions of hearts with her deep, resonating voice. With minimum/no training in music, she had an amazing talent to sing the words with utmost depth and emotion. I also remember that she did not read and write any of the songs but relied upon a fellow artist to say the words in her ear, just before she got the signal to sing her part. I used to watch her in awe, when she sang many feet away from the mike, while other artists had to stay as close as possible and still managed to get her voice heard better than the others. Yes she does remind us of Reshma who relied only on the depth of her voice with the touch of right emotion. She also is a very warm and motherly person and would always shower me with blessings. May she have a wonderful life. So happy for her.”

Noted Kashmiri singer Wahed jeelani adds 

“She is an institution and inspiration too. She is melody queen of Kashmir...she should have been honored by this award long before.... congratulations to her from the core of my heart...”

Prof. Jaya Parimu adds ..

 "She rightly deserved this recognition . She is Reshma of Kashmiri light music. "

Prof. Nighat Hafiz adds ..

“What a quality voice? .Making us remember those good old days when we were living happily together.........I had a privilege to see her sing in studies of radio Kashmir....She would sing like Reshma..engrossed and captured by music They both Naseem Akhter and Raj Begum were inseparables and would be together all the time. She always took me for a lady doctor and would start discussing health issues ..I would enjoy and inform her about me being a Psychology that she would laugh loud.....and say is your subject that can cure any disease..I always loved the simplicity of her conduct and behaviour..”

Noted urdu writer Veerinder patwari adds ..

" I have been her fan since my boyhood. During last 5 decades I could not hear such a very high ranged melodious voice.To me she is the best international singer in Kashmiri. I think she deserved much more."


And once I asked her about Kashmiri Musician Late Mohan Lal Aima . Pat came the reply..

“ Tamiss Aissin Swarguss Munz Jaai. Gaash Ta Bahaar Aissinuss Taati . Tyoothh Zaanavoal Kattie Anoann. Khudaa Zaanie Kattie Anoakh Tim Swargvaasi ? ”

“ Let his abode be in the Swarga ( Heaven ) !Let there be light and spring season in that Swarga( Heaven ) !Where can we get learned men like him ? God knows where from we shall get men like him now .”

Saying so she wiped tears from her eyes and asked for a glass of water. She was not well. I also noticed that she was on some medicines .

May she live long and be healthy .She is one amongst some surviving stars on the Cultural horizon of Kashmir . A star that shines for all. A star that twinkles hope in our minds .

. I end this brief post with lines from a kashmiri Gazal of poet Rasa Javidaani sung soulfully by Raj Begum…

Masharaavthuss janaana Tche Kurr yaad Peymoy Baa,
Chhukh Az wafaa begaan Tche Kurr Yaad Peymoy Baa.
Raadhaaiy Jigruss Kaan Taarith Baal maarith Guvv,
Goopaal Krishen Kaanhaa Tse Kurr Yaad Peymoy Baa.

( Rasa javidaani )

Love ! Willfully, you tend to forget me ,
when Shall you remember me ?
You, who plays stranger to My Love ,
when Shall you remember me ?
Piercing arrow in Radha’s tender heart,
you move playfully away.
O Gopaala ! O Krishna !O Kaanhaa !
when Shall you remember me !?

( Autar Mota 05.12.2013 )

CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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