Home Jammu-Kashmir Amid lockdown, this Sikh youth is enthralling Kashmiris through music

Amid lockdown, this Sikh youth is enthralling Kashmiris through music

By Zahoor Hussain

As most parts of the world are locked down to contain spread of the deadly Novel Coronavirus, Harkrishan Singh Sanam, a 25-year-old Punjabi speaking Sikh youth from south Kashmir’s Tral has become an internet sensation after several of his songs went viral on social media.

‘Kas Wane Yem Sitam’, ‘Dilbaro Mai Dilas’, ‘Sunder Kya Maalyoum Myon’, and several others, originally sung by Rashid Jahangir, Abdul Rashid Hafiz and Naseem-Ul-Haq, sung by Sanam were uploaded on Facebook during the ongoing lockdown. The videos have received immense response from music lovers in the Valley and have garnered lakhs of views other than countless likes and shares. Additionally, music lovers on social media, particularly on Facebook are using emojis and comments to express their love and respect for Sanam, thanking him for enthralling them during the hard times of Coronavirus lockdown.

“By singing Kashmiri songs our own Sanam is telling the world how sweet the Kashmiri language is. He deserves our appreciation and admiration,” Sagar Nazir, renowned Kashmiri poet and Sahitya Akademi Awardee, told TwoCircles.net.

“Kashmiri and Punjabi languages also come in the category of the sweetest languages,” feels Nazir. He added that songs sung in these two languages always touch the hearts; even if most of the people can’t understand the lyrics and that is why remixing of old songs should be welcomed.

“I was not a music lover. Last week, while scrolling through Facebook posts, I saw a song of Sanam Ji,” said Mohammad Yaseen. Yaseen is a businessman by profession who has newly become a music lover and more particularly a fan of Sanam after listening to his songs during the lockdown.

While music lovers reserve their utmost praises for Sanam, it is heartening to see people find new solace in music through his songs. Yaseen added that he found not only Sanam’s songs lovely but also he has got a beautiful voice. “His songs touch my heart and I keep listening to them,” he said.

“I am a Kashmiri first,” says the young star from Kashmir. Sanam narrates that he has been living all his life with his Kashmiri brothers and as a Kashmiri youth, he wants to promote his own language (Kashmiri). “I am very much thankful to my Kashmiri community which comprises of Muslims, Sikhs, Pandits and Hindus because they have been immensely appreciating and loving my songs,” Sanam told TwoCircles.net. It is pertinent here to mention that the Sikh population in Muslim majority Kashmir is just 0.88 percent but both the communities have always maintained cordial relations with each other. Sikhs in Kashmir are settled all across the valley, engaging in everything from farming and government services to running business establishments. Unlike Pandits, they didn’t leave Kashmir in the 90’s when insurgency started here.

With regards to the lockdown, Sanam requested people to stay indoors in view of the deadly pandemic, saying that, “We can defeat it only by maintaining social distance and staying at our homes.” He feels that every religion teaches its followers to be patient and we, no matter our respective belief systems, need to be patient today, only then we can defeat this virus.

As Jammu and Kashmir reported around 250 cases of Coronavirus pandemic with four deaths according to latest official figures, Sanam extends his goodwill saying, “Keep listening music while being confined to your homes.”


The Musical Journey of Sanam


“During my school days at Central Public Mission High School Tral, I would sing in morning assemblies,” Sanam said. He recalled developing an interest in music through Shabad Kirtan (singing of hymns or Shabad from the Guru Granth Sahib) in the local Gurdwara of Tral town, where he was born and brought up. Sanam’s father is a retired economics professor, presently heading the Guru Nanak Public School in Tral as its Principal and his mother is voluntarily working for the National Cadet Corps (NCC).

In the year 2009 when Sanam was only 14 years, he had participated in a state music talent hunt, ‘Miley Sur’ organized by Doordarshan Kendra in Srinagar. Although he could not make it to the finals, he didn’t give up singing and continued his passion.

Sanam has pursued a five year undergrad degree course as well as a postgrad in music from two different universities. He narrates that after completion of secondary schooling, his first teacher, Jasbir Singh, had suggested him to join Institute of Music and Fine Arts, from where he graduated with specialization in classical music. He then went to Punjab where he pursued post graduation in music from Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University. “Even though people there didn’t understand the lyrics, but still they would love listening to Kashmiri songs,” said Sanam, talking about his postgrad years in Punjab where he would sing Kashmiri songs in functions.

Sanam informed that in 2013-14, he got introduced to the music of Ustad Nadeem Salamat Ali Khan, a disciple of the legendary Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Later at an event in Malaysia in August 2018, Sanam shared the stage with Ustad Nadeem who had advised him to embrace his Kashmiri identity.

Sanam feels that there is no dearth of talent in Kashmir but they need platforms where talented youth like him can be groomed before showcasing them in multiple platforms so they can excel in all fields of life.

Talking about him becoming a music sensation at a time when Kashmir is still facing limited internet usage rules despite the longest ever internet shutdown in the world (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/indias-internet-shutdown-in-kashmir-is-now-the-longest-ever-in-a-democracy/2019/12/15/bb0693ea-1dfc-11ea-977a-15a6710ed6da_story.html), Sanam states that he is upset with the government for not restoring high speed mobile internet in Kashmir.

“I want to tell the government and Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi that we Kashmiris are peace-loving people. Please restore high speed internet,” he says, adding that a small video takes two to three hours to get uploaded on social media.