SRINAGAR: People from different walks of life participated in a workshop today to deliberate on art and religious places for women in the Kashmir Valley.
The session was held on the concluding day of ‘Mashq e Arba’in’, a week-long exhibition to mark the 40-day mourning period of Ashura.
Research scholar and organizer of ‘Majalis’ for women in Muharram, Saeedah Zehra, said that they have always been and will continue to take the lead in organizing religious events.
“Women have always organized majali separately during Muharram in Kashmir. In the past, Majalis were limited to sermons and sermons. Now, it begins with the recitation of the Qur’an followed by the chain of hadith, and then the recitation of poetry in the women’s majlis. In today’s context, women’s participation should continue to be encouraged,” he said during a session organized by Educational Revival Through Arts and Aesthetics (EDRAAK) at Mahatta Studios.
“In Majalis, we also talk about social evils and other issues facing the society. God willing, these majalis will continue and women will continue to occupy places of worship,” he added.
Saba Riaz, an art lover and doctoral scholar in statistics from the University of Kashmir, said she took inspiration from Zainab bint Ali (AS) while batting for greater participation of women in religious and other aspects of life.
“Our inspiration is Saeedah Zainab (AS) who started the tradition of freedom. He kept Karbala alive in humanity through his speech after the tragedy of Karbala. She is the best example for all women in the world. Women have an important role in all aspects of life: at home, at work, in society, at university, in our centers and mosques,” she said.
“More opportunities and positions should be created for women to play leadership roles to help our communities develop in all positive domains. We need self-confidence, and events like this, one of our adornments. There are resources. We must not underestimate our strength even during difficult times!”
Adrak founder Dr Ilyas Rizvi said that Shia women have already started playing a leading role in religious and other events.
“Shia women in general have always played a leading role in the tradition of ‘Azadari’. Imam Bargah Zadibal is the first Imam Bargah where Zanana Majalis started where a Zakira recited the Kashmiri Mursia like men. Where women of the older generation Mursia are engaged in khawani, there is a new generation experimenting with new styles of poetry, nuha khawani, art, calligraphy etc,” he said.
He said that the active participation of women was also seen in the week-long ‘Mashk e Arabain’.
“During the Arabian Heritage Walk, women actively participated and we also displayed the works of women artists and calligraphers in the exhibition. We concluded the exhibition with a session with a women’s group. They talked about art, spaces for women in Kashmir…especially in religious places,” Rizvi said.