Rock from the Valley


Kashmir gets its first all-girl rock band, Pragaash, meaning 'from darkness to light'

A guitar n hand, dressed in jeans and with her head covered by a hijab, Noma Nazir is setting a trend for girls of Kashmir. She and two friends have formed the Valley's first all-girl rock band and if the standing ovation they received during their first public gig in Srinagar is any indication are on their way to mini-stardom.

"Through the notes of the guitar and beats of the drum, we want to tell everybody about the sufferings of the people of Kashmir, especially women. In the past six decades, women have suffered the most. We want our music to voice their concerns," says Noma as she strums gently, almost absent-mindedly, on her guitar.

The band comprises Farah Deeba and Aneka Khalid besides Nazir. In their teens, they are all students of Class X and balancing studies with music. They've named the band Pragaash, a Kashmiri word that means "from darkness to light".

It was in August that the three girls met at a local music institute, Band Inn, and joined hands to form the rock band. Noma, a 16-year-old, is the vocalist and guitarist of the band while 15-year-old Khalid is the bass guitarist and Deeba, also 15, beats the rhythm on drums. Guiding the band is Adnan Mohammad, a music student who runs Band Inn. "I am in love with music. I have suffered a lot while finding an institute to learn music," he says. "I don't want these people to suffer like I suffered. I encourage girls of the Valley. I have found them very talented".

The girls say that their families have supported their unconventional decision to form a band. Khalid is inspired by her brother and Deeba her mother. In fact, it was Deeba's mother who suggested the name for the band. "It was my brother who had bought a guitar and joined a music institute," says Khalid, "Then, I insisted that my parents also buy me a guitar and let me learn music. Initially, they were a little hesitant and needed convincing by me. But now, they fully support me ."

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