Ladishah – A Tool for Democracy
Ladishah is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. It is, in this sense, a true expression of democracy – a way for the people to have their say.
Ladishah is a storytelling musical genre, sung in Kashmiri, to express anguish or to entertain people in a rhythmic form, primarily revolving around political, social, and cultural issues in the form of melodious satire. It was initially used to criticize the rulers who engaged in human rights abuses. It is said that Ladishah got its name from its creator, who lived in a village situated in Pulwama known as “Lari”, and belonged to the Shah dynasty; so he was recognized as Shah of Lari village. According to other sources, the word originated from ‘Ladi’ which means a row or line, and ‘Shah’ has been added over time with the coming of Muslim rulers. A careful analysis of ladishah songs unfolds the hidden aspects of the social life in Kashmir, which helps in building up the local history. It helps the listeners to understand the world around them and makes them laugh and think. It is the revenge of the intelligent on the privileged – it is there to prick pomposity and to check power.
Over time, this art has slowly lost its popularity. There is a need for the revival of the art of ladishah, to preserve our culture and heritage.