Music is a part of almost every culture, but songs vary primarily in three ways—their form, religiosity and arousal.

In the lap of the beautiful vale of Kashmir we have the soothing expression of Wanvun, which is one among the oldest folk expressions and song-forms of Kashmir. The literal meaning of wanvun is “chorus”. It is a special and indigenous genre which is sung by women particularly without any musical instruments. It is said to be ancient, basic and enticing in style.

Wanvun is a song form sung in celebrations using musical patterns. It has reflected, since ages the old and rich cultural ethos of Kashmir, which had no religious or social discrimination. Marriage rituals with Wanvun are an inseparable part of our culture.

Women, predominantly young girls, sing melodious songs in chorus in which the groom, his parents and siblings are admired. The new bride is showered with praises through different songs. This is an effective way to conserve our language which is facing the onslaught of modernization.

Wanwun is usually sung on the occasions of collective joy, mainly marriages where the wise old women are specially invited who have the art and skill of singing wanwun and enlivening the occasions with thier poise.

Kashmir has endured numerous adaptive progressions in its narratives and same is true for its culture, which has absorbed a good influence from Arabian , Persian and Sino cultures. All this has ascendancy on its music with an exceptional mixture of Sanskrit and Persian in locally emitted form.

Wanvun is classified into two categories on the basis of religion and diversity of themes: Pandit wanwun and muslim wanwun.

Pandit wanvun is mainly composed of Sanskrit vocabulary and the tunes are recalled in vedic style. On the other hand, the Muslim wanvun is a mixture of Persian, Arabic and Turkish vocabulary with a predominant Persian style of chanting.

Muslim Wanvun is particularly sung on weddings, (Khandar wanvun), circumcision (khatanhaal wanwun) and new-born head shaving ceremony (Zare kaasney wanwun). Pandit Wanwun has an additional Yegnopavit wanvun(songs sung on thread ceremony).

Wanvun as a source of inspiration and rich poetic form is still capable of awakening knowledge and coping with everything unwanted that doesn’t suit the tastes and ways of the lifestyles of Kashmiris. Today there is a mass mutation and modernization in themes of wanvun where the folk themes are replaced by songs of movies and suchlike leaving endangered the original Wanvun. If we do not uphold our cultural ethos, Wanwun, like many other dying traditions, will become a thing of past to be found only in manuscripts.

Farakhzaad Khan

Class XI

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