The Cultural Cocktail

It has become increasingly difficult for the people of a multi-lingual and multi-cultural country, like India, to save their (regional) languages. It is a fact that Hindi and English are the (unofficial) national languages of India as majority of Indians have knowledge of both, but each Indian province has its own official language(s). With Hindi and English playing a dominating role in the modern Indian society, regional languages are on the verge of extinction in the era of globalisation. In such a situation, many Indian provinces plan to promote their own languages and cultures at the national (and international) level through various events. And Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is no exception.

Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust, a Jammu-based non-profit organisation, organised an event – titled ‘Cultural Cocktail: Youth For Art’ – at Kingdoms of Dreams in northern Indian city of Gurgaon on June 17 mainly to promote the ‘Dogri’ language. The trust has been instituted in the memory of renowned Dogri literature editor, columnist and Sahitya Akademi Awardee late Group Captain of Indian Air Force Randhir Singh, popularly known as ‘Kunwar Viyogi’ in literary circles.

On Saturday evening, noted Kathak dancer Sanchita Abrol stole the show at Showshaa Hall with her brilliant performance. She performed Kathak on Viyogi’s award winning publication ‘Ghar’. The disciple of venerated Kathak maestro Shovana Narayan said that she was happy to encourage people outside J&K to know more about Dogri – an Indo-Aryan language spoken by about five million people in India and Pakistan, chiefly in the Jammu region of J&K and Himachal Pradesh, and also in northern Punjab and elsewhere in the two neighbouring South Asian countries – through her performance. Abrol also said that she had performed in Australia, Italy, Morocco, China and the UK in the past to promote the regional culture. She believes it is important for people across the globe to promote their own languages and cultures in the modern world, as it will help them come close to each other.

Later, young dancer from Jammu Anmol Jamwal and his troops performed a stylised Jazz and Funk choreography, titled ‘Taboo’. His performance was aimed at breaking the cultural barriers in India. The dancer said that regional languages should be promoted through educational institutions, adding that such a move would help children understand their mother tongues properly. According to Jamwal, a language can be saved only by encouraging the younger generation to respect their own culture.

Audiences at the Showshaa Hall also enjoyed the Hindi adaptation of William Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ on Saturday. Noted stage actor Aarushi Thakur Rana, who directed the play, said that her main aim was to portray a different picture of Kashmir, apart from promoting the local culture. “Kashmir should not be projected only as a troubled region. Although a section of Kashmiri youths is involved in terrorist and other activities, others are nurturing their language and culture,” she added. Rana assured other Indian communities that she was ready to help them save their cultures.

Meanwhile, Ayushman Jamwal – one of the members of the Trust and Viyogi’s grandson – thanked local people for attending the cultural event. He said that their participation would inspire the Trust to arrange more such events in different parts of India in the coming months. He stressed on the importance of creating a talent pool and providing Kashmiri students, artists, writers and cultural groups with multiple platforms to showcase their talents. Ayushman, the curator of Cultural Cocktail who is also spearheading ‘Save the Language’ campaign, opined that Dogri should be included in school curriculum, saying that it wouldn’t be possible to save a language without getting help from the concerned authorities.

Ayushman, a senior editor at CNN-IBN, further informed the media that Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust would continue to promote and preserve the Dogri language and literature through art, culture, education and innovation. In association with Department of Dogri, the University of Jammu, the Trust has already instituted three scholarships – Kunwar Viyogi Merit Scholarship – to be awarded to male topper in MA Dogri; Prem Jamwal Kunwar Viyogi Merit scholarship, to be awarded to female topper in MA Dogri and Kunwar Viyogi Research Scholarship – to be awarded to students who undertake research work on the Dogri writers/poets etc., especially on Kunwar Viyogi. According to Ayushman, the Trust is committed to promote cultural and artistic works and to preserve literature, culture and heritage of J&K.

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