The Bold Voice of J&K

Legendary Kashmiri singer Raj Begum dies at 8

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raj-begum-singerSrinagar:- Raj Begum, whose captivating voice earned her the title of ‘Nightingale of Kashmir’, passed away here this morning.

Begum, 89, breathed her last at her daughter’s residence in Chanapora locality. Besides her daughter, she is survived by two sons.

From a wedding singer, Raj Begum, who was born on March 27, 1927, emerged as one of the most powerful female voices in Kashmir.

Her talent for singing was always nurtured by her father and she started singing at locality weddings before she joined Radio Kashmir in 1954. There she became one of the main melodies that the station would broadcast. She retired in 1986.

Until she joined Radio Kashmir in 1954, female singers would sing in a guarded manner. However, Begum’s uninhibited, high-pitch and melodious voice changed that. Music lovers say that she used to sing from her heart, unmindful of cultural constraints and it was seen as ushering of a new freedom for women in Kashmir.

There is no official record of how many songs she sang but among the prominent ones was “vyasiye gulan aavuy bahar, az saal antam baliyar (Dear friend, the flowers have started blooming and I hope that my beloved will come this year)”.

Begum was awarded Padma Shri in 2002 and Sangeet Akademi award in 2013. She was also bestowed with State award by Jammu and Kashmir government in 2009.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed grief over the demise of the legendary singer.

In her condolence message, she said Kashmir has lost a “treasured female voice”. She termed Begum’s demise as the end of a great era in Kashmir’s musical history and a huge loss for the state.

Former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Ghaulam Nabi Azad and Omar Abdullah also condoled Begum’s death.

“She was a voice which will continue to echo in the valley for time immemorial,” Abdullah said.

Azad, who is also the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, said, “Raj Begum was an institution and ruled the hearts of millions of Kashmiri listeners for more than six decades.

“I was a great fan of Rajji. Her death has caused a vacuum in the arena of Kashmiri Music. I pray for the departed soul’s peace and also express my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.”

Omar said songs of Raj Begum’s would bring back his childhood memories. “The mellifluous voice of Raj Begum sahiba was unique in its own way. She has left a void which will be difficult to fill.”

Prominent singer Shamim Dev, wife of Azad, said she was “stunned to learn that death has laid its cruel hands on the melody queen of Kashmir.

“I knew Raj Begum from my childhood and it is she who has been my inspiration in the field of music,” she said.

Expressing her heartfelt grief on her passing away, Dev, who is also known as the melody queen of Kashmir and has been awarded with Padma Shri, said, “Raj Begum will be remembered for decades to come.

PTI

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