The Fabulous Sinisay and a Glimpse Over its Background: A Wakhi Folk Lament from Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan Region

April 2, 2019

By Fazal Amin Beg

A Background of Sinisay

It should be noted that Sinisay as a particular folk lament is prevalent among the Wakhi community of Hunza valley in Gilgit-Baltistan Region and it has a diverse context and it cannot be understood through literal meanings only. Instead, its complexity invites the readers and audience to ponder over deeply in a situation that had occurred and encountered by a Wakhi family (then a small community, at least centuries back). The explanations could be seen broadly in a metaphorical context to see what a brave mother’s role was and how did she perform incredibly.
Although, the stories related with the bride, the enigmatic death encountering her, the bride’s mother’s bravery, making up of the bride’s younger sister in replacement, seeing off the wedding party, emergence of Sinasay and the Sinisay taking its course as part of Wakhi tradition are though so interesting, the themes also stimulate us for a deep analysis and debates in an academic context. But the purpose here is not to go in an analysis rather to simply describe the story of Sinisay in Wakhi. An analytic part with a critical review I’ll be presenting ahead in future (in the form of a paper).
The Melodic Sinisay
Sinisay is not only a popular poem of lament comprised on over two dozens of verses but rather it’s so melodic in nature that without involvement of any kind of musical instruement a concerned person listens it on its natural music: that is, the sweet voices of women at individual level as well as in chorus when they sing this painful song with a joyful fashon. One would get so attracted and prefer to listen it again and again.
It’s noteworthy that different versions of Sinisay are found among the Wakhi women from Hunza. Here, I’m going to offer a set of Sinisay (included 22 verses) that was sung in its original melody by Grandma Bibi Dawlat daughter of Arbob Muhammad Adab Khan and wife of Salman Ali of Passu village within Hunza valley (which I had recorded back in January 2009).although, some of the words may sound alien to Wakhi, the reason may be its occurrence in the distant past and the vocabularies do not exist in the present context. But, let me reiterate, it’s pertinent to strictly note that we cannot take the literal meanings for granted to the whole extent in order to understand the deep meanings behind the circumstances as there ar series of metaphors involved in the poem itself. In brief, let’s come towards the famous folk lement as follows under.

Ye sini saya sini say,ya sini say ey siyoni say ey, lowa lo ey, loni lay ey, loni lay
Ye ta gũlik ta’na gũlik ey, lowa lo, loni lay-e loni lay
Ye shepk-e shepk nogra gũlik ey lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ya sũrkh et safida gũlik ey lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ya mũs̃hki maboghcha gũlik ey lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ya mũs̃hker da ruya gũlik ey lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ya z̃huy-e z̃huy Fẽtma gũlik ey lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ya cuq sikidh Qũba gũlik ey lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Malmal be pẽs dũma gũlik ey lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Yan aw-e hazora gũlik ey lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ya Baltit-e qẽlha gũlik ey lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ya ghizhek-e tamoncha gũlik ey lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ya rabob et dora gũlik ey lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Arbob-e tuykhona gũlik ey lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ya rukhn zem tẽr har kũcha gũlik ey lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ya Yir g̃hate da Dhankuter ey, lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ya werekhte da Kimkuter ey, lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ye ya jawononisht kirke rus ey, lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ya chũmũt̃kerisht ra pũrk-e rus ey, lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Da rus-e g̃has̃hi s̃hũw burus ey, lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Ya burus’ni bet chiz yus ey, lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Qamchin be dũrz di tra furus̃h ey, lowa lo, loni laya loni lay
Watch it on Eagle’s World:

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  • Reply Mirza Hussain April 2, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Shirin bech
    Very interesting, really a very good effort to document such a wonderful tradition.

    • Reply fazalamin April 5, 2019 at 11:05 pm

      Thanks for your appreciations, indeed.

  • Reply nisar karim June 14, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    Marvelous lopyor Fazal Amin baig Saheb, indeed you are our inspiration and a role model; you did a lot to our community in preserving our rich culture and history. Amin bah! No doubt, this song belongs to the wakhies of Gojal valley, which is in practice till now in our marriage ceremonies; many of the words are new for me, which is really surprising. What is important and attractive for us in few lines from the poetry is some indications, the lines which indicate particular area, family and some instruments as well, which you know batter then others. Can you please propound your knowledge about these mentioned lines below? For example;
    Ya z̃huy-e z̃huy Fẽtma gũlik ey…(sir! is this line shows “the lake named with a Fẽtma?)
    Ya cuq sikidh Qũba gũlik ey…(what is “cuq sikidh Qũba”?)
    Ya Baltit-e qẽlha gũlik ey…. (Amin Bahi what is the central idea of linking the line with Baltith?)
    Arbob-e tuykhona gũlik ey…( Sir! the creator of this song belongs from which Arbob family in Gojal?)
    Ya Yir g̃hate da Dhankuter ey… (What this line is indicating?)
    Ya werekhte da Kimkuter ey…( “Kimkuter” is new wood for me, what is the meaning of this word?)
    Please help me in understanding the above queries. thanks

    • Reply fazalamin June 15, 2019 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks Nisar Karim for your kind words and gesture . It’s your great compassion, indeed.
      It’s not only me who has contributed to the related language and culture but rather there are uncountable contributors in this world that include the indigenous and non-indigenous people.
      In this world, being human, we are supposed to, rather have to, learn from and share with each other. No one in this world can be termed perfect inany field but rather through learning and sharing, we get refinement in pursuance of our acquired knowledge derived out of floding of information in this globalized world.
      As for your questions pertaining to the lines of Sinisai, we need to understand (as I’ve already described in the introductory part) that no line or words could be taken for granted in its literal term because Sinisai is a women folksong. There are mtaphors in the stanzas and lines. No one is sure and no one can claim to be sure about the proper explanation of the poem as it has orally transmitted from one generation to another and sounds there are addition and deletion in it with the course of time.
      I tried to explore and delve into the ocean of this specific folksong through my championed guides as the old women but they could not reach to the bottom as per se to link the words in the lines and lines in the stanzas.
      Let’s hope for the best that further attempts could be made by the young , astute and female researchers and it’s possible that the old women may tell them the underlying and hidden meanings and metaphors which may become issue for them to share with us (being male) due to the set cultural constructs and barriers.You’d be pleased to know that in this connection, one of the novice and young female Wakhi researchers has objectified such issues for her M.Phil dissertation . Let’s hope for the best to discern and uncover such problems, to an extent, in the academic realms.
      In addition, I should mention that the elegies and laments like Sinisai are also part of one of my books and I will try to explain the issues there, too.
      once again, I’m so grateful to you, dear Nisar Karim, for your cute and shrewd questions. Be blessed.

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