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Yemberzal: Kashmir’s First All-Girl Sufi Music Ensemble

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Sufiana Mausiqi is the name for the classical Sufi ensemble music performed in the Kashmir region of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Fortunately, a women’s music group, Yemberzal, is taking the historical responsibility to revive this cherished heritage of Sufi music. Today we’ll present the beautiful story of this talented women’s ensemble.

The Yemberzal band consists of five girls in their late teens or early twenties, including Irfana Yousuf and her younger sister Rehana, Gulshan Lateef, Saima Hameed, and Shabnum Bashir. In 2011, Irfana persuaded her father, Mohammad Yousuf Beigh, a classical musician and an artist of Radio Kashmir, to teach her to play the challenging traditional instruments, which male players had previously dominated. The intelligent young Irfana became passionate about music; she found that the power of Sufi music gave her a sense of calm and enhanced concentration.

In 2015, the all-girl ensemble, Yemberzal, was announced as a formal musical band, aiming to revive the traditional art form of Sufi music. The Yemberzal band members enjoy the charm of Sufi music. When expressing their religion and praising their Prophet, Peace be upon Him, they forget about everything else.

In 2017, the Yemberzal Sufi ensemble performed in events at the district level in Srinagar, and was selected for the state-level competition held at Jammu, where they won the first position, marking one of their most memorable moments. In 2021, Yemberzal’s performances were presented by BBC Monitoring, and their inspirational influence in their region was discovered. After their interview with the BBC, this one-of-a-kind all-girl Sufi ensemble became known to audiences around the world. They also have a major plan to open a music school for girls, while sharpening their musical skills.
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