Pragnya Wakhlu : Kahwa Speaks

The idea

Kashmir has often been a misunderstood state as there is a lot of media attention on the violence there. There is so much about Kashmiri culture, traditions and music that remain concealed from the public eye. I have always wanted to do something with my music with a dualfold approach of understanding more about where I come from and also to introduce the world to the positive side of Kashmir. That’s when the idea of “Kahwa Speaks “evolved and I spent a lot of time doing research over the past few years.

My endeavor with this album is to help audiences (both Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri) across the world to experience Kashmir for what it inherently is – a rich cultural state. To be introduced to the finer nuances of a forgotten culture and history through an experiential show involving live music, visuals and storytelling .It is an honest attempt at preserving the Kashmiri language ,by creating memorable songs that pique people’s interest in learning the language.

The music aims at spreading the message of peace and unity, strictly keeping away from any political agendas.

The album has six songs:

Henzay- Return to peace –

This is a form of Kashmiri singing called Wanwun which is traditionally sung at weddings as blessings for the family and bride. The kashmiri pandit style is more like a vedic chant and the Kashmiri muslim style is slightly different. This song brings both styles together in the same track.I’ve also added a lot of vocal harmony layers to make it sound bigger and fuller.The lyrics are blessings for Kashmir.

Hukus Bukus – The Riddle Hukus Bukus is a childhood poem that has it’s roots in Kashmiri shaivism. It talks about self identity and how we are all made by the same creator.

Katyuchuk My love- Based on a poem written by Habakhatoon it is the love story between the erstwhile poetess Habakhatoon and the 16th century king of Kashmir Yusuf Shah Chak

Lalla’s Lore- Lalla’s Lore features two vaakhs(verses) by the poetess Lalleshwari (fondly known as Lalded) and their translations in English. I spent an afternoon with Mr. Jawaharlal Bhat(author of Lalded Revisited)who helped me select and understand the meaning of the Vaakh’s and then I re-wrote the essence of the vaakh in English.This is also the first time in India that this has been attempted.

Burning Fire- Burning Fire is written about a cause I feel really strongly about – the injustice that is happening to the Tibetan community . The song aims to bring awareness to the oft ignored and very critical issue of self immolations .I felt the relevance of including it in this album for several reasons. J&K consists of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh..Ladakh has a huge community of Tibetans and I feel their forced exile is very similar to what Kashmiri pandits went through earlier on.We’ve also released a music video for Burning Fire which has been shot in Dharamshala with real refugees and real stories.

Kahwa Speaks- The title track of the album speaks about how we can view a cup of tea(kahwa) as a metaphor for life. Can we be sweet with our words, fragrant with our actions and live together in harmony just as the different elements of tea come together to create a beautiful brew?

This article was featured in our September 2017 issue: http://bit.ly/2fN69y0