Saturday February 24, 2018
Home World First Afghan ...

First Afghan Women’s Orchestra Tries to Change Attitudes in a deeply conservative country where Music seen as ‘immoral’

0
//
66
In this Feb. 15, 2017, photo, orchestra leader Zarifa Adiba, 18, conducts during a concert in Kabul. Afghanistan’s first all-female symphony is trying to change attitudes in a deeply conservative country where many see music as immoral, especially for women. VOA
Republish
Reprint

Afghanistan’s first – and only – all-female symphony is trying to change attitudes in a deeply conservative country where many see music as immoral, especially for women.

The symphony’s two conductors show how difficult that can be, but also how satisfying success is.

One of them, Negin Khpolwak, was supported by her father when she joined the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and then became part of its girls’ orchestra, called Zohra. But the rest of her family was deeply against it. Her uncles cut off ties with her father.

“They told him he is not their brother anymore,” said Khpolwak, now 20. “Even my grandmother disowned my father.”

Check out NewsGram for latest international news updates.

Khwolpak had learned about the music institute at the orphanage in Kabul where she spent most of her life. Her father sent her to the orphanage because he was afraid for her safety in their home province of Kunar in eastern Afghanistan, an area where Taliban militants are active.

The institute is one of the only schools in Afghanistan where girls and boys share classrooms, and it draws its students from the ranks of orphanages and street children, giving them a chance at a new life. Khpolwak studied piano and drums before becoming the orchestra’s conductor.

First international tour

More than 30 girls aged 12 to 20 play in Zohra, which is named after a goddess of music in Persian literature. In January, the orchestra, which performs traditional Afghan and Western Classical music, had its first international tour, appearing at the World Economic Forum in Davos and four other cities in Switzerland and Germany.

“The formation of the orchestra is aimed at sending a positive message to the community, to send a positive message to the girls, to encourage families and girls to join the music scene of the country,” said Ahmad Naser Sarmast, the institute’s founder, and director.

In this Feb. 15, 2017, photo, Zarifa Adiba, 18, plays during a concert in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Sarmast has experienced firsthand the militants’ hatred of music. In 2014, a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up at a concert Sarmast was attending. He was wounded and a German man in the audience died.

NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.

The Zohra orchestra was created in 2014 when one of the institute’s students, a girl named Meena, asked Sarmast if there could be a group where girls could play together. Sarmast leaped at the idea.

Since then, Meena has disappeared. Last year, the 7th grader told the school she had to attend her sister’s wedding in her family’s village in eastern Nangarhar province. She never returned, a sign of how tenuous people’s situation is in a country where war rages, communications are poor and poverty is rife. Sarmast said the school has not been in contact with her, but he’s hopeful she’ll return to the school and Zohra.

The orchestra’s other conductor, 18-year-old Zarifa Adiba, faced resistance from her family just as Khpolwak did.

Societal barriers

When she joined the school in 2014, she only told her mother and stepfather, not her four brothers and her uncles, because she knew they would disapprove. Her mother and step-father tried to tell them about the importance of music – without mentioning Adiba – but they weren’t convinced.

“If my brothers and uncles had known about me learning or playing music, they 100 percent would have stopped me because they had a very negative view toward music,” Adiba said.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

Her family’s opposition to music was so intense she hesitated to join the orchestra’s trip to Davos. But she ended up going, and as one of the conductors she was widely interviewed in the media there and appeared on TV.

When she returned, her uncles were the first to congratulate her. Two of her brothers are still not happy about her involvement with music but now she has the support of the rest of the family, she has more courage, and she said she is sure her brothers will eventually come around.

“I changed my family, now it is time for other girls to change their families because I am sure that slowly all Afghanistan will change,” she said. (VOA)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 NewsGram

Next Story

Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

0
//
1639
Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India.

The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

Go to NewsGram and check out news related to political current issues.

Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

Look for latest news from India in NewsGram.

Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC