Shi’ite Religious Leaders in Afghanistan Ban Local Musical Festival, Call it “Harram”

As per the Shi’ite religious leaders' council, propagating music with dance and playing Dombra is against Islamic values

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Members of the Zohra orchestra
Members of the Zohra orchestra, an ensemble of 35 women, attend a rehearsal at Afghanistan's National Institute of Music, in Kabul, April 4, 2016. Source: (VOA)
  • Local musical festival in central Afghanistan banned by Shi’ite religious leaders
  • The organizers will perform the two-day Dombra festival anyway
  • It is against Islamic law as per Shi’ite religious leaders

Afghanistan,  July 18, 2017: A council of Shi’ite religious leaders in Bamyan province in central Afghanistan banned a local musical festival, calling it “Harram” or against Islamic law, while many other religious leaders hailed it as art and a cultural event.

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Local officials say that despite the disagreement with religious leaders, the organizers will go ahead with their schedule to perform the two-day Dombra Music Festival, and the statement of the religious council will not affect their cultural festival. The event was scheduled earlier this month.

The Dombra, a lute-like musical instrument, is distinctive in central regions of Afghanistan, although the instrument has different names in various provinces of Afghanistan among varied traditions.

The Shi’ite religious leaders’ council, in its statement, said, “Propagating music with dance and jubilance and playing Dombra is against Islamic values, and local administration must preclude such events that expand immoralities.”

The local administration of information and culture in Bamyan rejected the allegation of the religious council, emphasizing that the musical festival in Bamyan is holding on to the request of residents and the “Dombra musical festival is representing the culture and art of people in Bamyan.”

Bamyan has experienced less violence and insecurity than some provinces over past 15 years. More than 10 art and cultural festivals have been held on different occasions in Bamyan in recent years. In addition, two years ago, a group of women initiated an effort to learn Dombra and established a local band. (VOA)