Remembering Ghulam Hassan Sofi on his 9th Death Anniversary

“You should not have made this music arrangement for the Baraat . The cook is on my head as no one is taking food. Add to this about 200 uninvited people have come to Shamiyaana to listen to the music. The Shamiyana is packed to full. The Bridegroom is himself sitting in this music Mehfil .Do something to let the Lagan take place . My daughter is unable to come down .It is 10.30 PM.” said the bride’s father to me .

I had organized Gh Hassan Sofi’s music entertainment for the Baraatis in that particular marriage. Everything came to standstill suddenly. The Baraatis , the bride groom’s father , the bride groom , workers and the residents of the locality flocked to the Shamiyana once Gh Hassan Sofi began his singing with Rasul Meer’s popular song .

“VALAI KASTURI PUREEY MAI TRAAV NEERIYE “

 Kashmiri Pandit women who were singing WANVUN stopped and trooped to the singer to clap his second song.

“CHAANEI BURR TUL RAAVIEM RAACHEI

AWAAZ VAATCHEI NAA”

                 That was the impact of the melodious voice Ghulam Hassan Sofi. I had to go to Sofi Sahib and convey facts to him . He announced that he wanted to take rest for one hour and requested Baratis to take food . Lagan function etc. started immediately. He sang some of the most melodious kashmiri songs till 4am. that night. Those who shared that night with me still feel nostalgic.He sang Rehman Raahi’s “Baeil Titi Chha Meiti Mokh Haavukh” ( Love , could it be so that you visit this way ),and Kathee Myani Mashouq Mattah Ditta Dhol ( Love! do not look other way when I say something ) to conclude .

In between he sang :

Tumm Naar Duz Aarwaali,

Jaan Vandiyo Haa Ba Paan vandiyo ,

Zamanay Pok Naa Hamdum Totee kyaa guv,

Yeti Suyee Chuhmay Tatee Suyee Chhumay,

Von Deiu Ath Karuss ,

Vanni loochi koar gatsukh,

Tse kamieu Karinay Tawez punn,

Wothi Bagich Kokilee ,

Greis-Koor ( poet Mehjoor),

Batta-Koor ( Poet Abdul Ahad Azad ),

Mo Chhaayee Rozum Maahe Nau ke Hilaal, Afsoos duniyaa and many other popular kashmiri compositions.

Unbelievable but true ,when he sang the Naat Neri Latiye Roi Karaan in this marriage function , women in particular heard him with rapt attention. This was the composite culture of Kashmir. That day it got established to me that Culture rises higher in human relations. Culture binds . It touches the basic questions and issues of humanity as a group. No grief , no sorrow or no happiness is divisive in terms of race , colour or religion,infact they are universal.

Almost nine years have elapsed since he  left this world .He died on 9th Nov 2009 in SMHS hospital after a prolonged illness and was laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard at Maleteng Dalgate. I saw him in september 2009. He was unwell. He had stopped singing. Age had taken him over . I knew he was packing but not so fast.Pity! This great son of the soil died in poverty perhaps neglected by the lovers of his music . I do not know When shall kashmiris recognise their icons? Peace to his soul. He made many people happy during his lifetime.

Taenni Gomay Rabaab Ragan Gayem Taaray ,

Zeeri Bumm Thovthhum cheeray lo .

(This body is a Rabaab and these nerves just strings This being resonates with thy music only Lord !)

This great singer lived to these words .The lines are from his composition “ Jaan Vandayo , Haa Baa Paan Vandayo , Zuv Tai Jaan vanday Myaani Peero lo .” This is how religions were mostly practiced in kashmir . The Peer’s place or Murshid’s Baargaah or Guru ‘s abode was a place of total surrender .This was his preferred song in all Mehfils .

A little clarification for readers .We had two Sofis in kashmir . One was from rainawari namely Ghulam ahmed sofi popularly known as Ama kandhur . He too died some time back. This gentleman sang in Sufiana Style . He generally sang CHHAKRI . One must listen Rehman Dar’s composition SHESHRANG ( Aadhun Ikh Naa )sung by this great artist. The other sofi was Gh Hassan sofi.

Born in 1932, Gh hassan sofi began his career as a radio singer under late Mohan Lal Aima who brought him to Radio Kashmir Srinagar . later he also sang for Door Darshan, Song and Drama Division . He enriched kashmiri music with Gazal singing.He sang some of the most memorable Mystic compositions of Wahab Khar , Shams faqir and Sochha Kraal .Sofi sahib worked as instructor with Song and Drama division for 27 years ( from 1967 to 1994). He was a recipient of Sangeet Natak academy award .The biggest award for him was that he lived in the hearts of Masses.

I vividly remember the wonderful tributes paid Dr Haseeb Drabu Former Chairman J&K bank Ltd to this great son of the soil.

“It is a collective loss for the people of Kashmir and nobody can fill the void created by his demise. Ghulam Hassan Sofi was not just a great singer but an institution in himself. He didn’t merely sing songs, he vocalized the cultural philosophy of the Kashmir Valley. Not only his style his sensibilities too were deeply Kashmiri. May God grant him the same peace and solace that he gave to millions of Kashmiris by his soulful singing.”

Autar Mota is a Blogger  , Translator and writes in English , Urdu , Kashmiri and Hindi. His write-ups have appeared in many national magazines and journals.