July 5, 2017
A council of Shi’ite religious leaders in Bamyan province in central Afghanistan banned a local musical festival, calling it “Harram” or against Islamic law, while many other religious leaders hailed it as art and a cultural event.
Local officials say that despite the disagreement with religious leaders, the organizers will go ahead with their schedule to perform the two-day Dombra Music Festival, and the statement of the religious council will not affect their cultural festival. The event is scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
The Dombra, a lute-like musical instrument, is distinctive in central regions of Afghanistan, although the instrument has different names in various provinces of Afghanistan among varied traditions.
The Shi’ite religious leaders council, in its statement said, “Propagating music with dance and jubilance and playing Dombra is against Islamic values, and local administration must preclude such events that expand immoralities.”
The local administration of information and culture in Bamyan rejected the allegation of the religious council, emphasizing that the musical festival in Bamyan is holding on to the request of residents and the “Dombra musical festival is representing the culture and art of people in Bamyan.”
Bamyan has experienced less violence and insecurity than some provinces over past 15 years. More than 10 art and cultural festivals have been held on different occasions in Bamyan in recent years. In addition, two years ago, a group of women initiated an effort to learn Dombra and established a local band.
Zafar Bamyani contributed to this report.