A Jammu-based community radio station, 'Radio Sharda', has become the "voice of Kashmiri Pandits" as community members from across the globe tune into it to connect to their roots and culture.
"We are connecting Kashmiri Pandits living in India and 108 other countries through this community radio station. It is a household name in the community because of its programmes on Kashmiri culture, history, music, bhajans and issues confronting the community," Founder Director of Radio Sharda Ramesh Hangloo said.
Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to leave their homes after the spread of terrorism in the valley in 1990 have found a voice through the radio as it speaks not just about their culture but about their issues too, he said.
The slogan of Radio Sharda 90.4 FM is 'Booziv Te Khosh Rooziv' (Listen and Be Happy), he said.
"Those who get uprooted need to be connected to their roots and our service helps them with that," he said.
Radio Sharda began operations in December 2011 to connect the Kashmiri Pandit community to its roots and preserve, promote and propagate culture, music, and knowledge about Kashmir among the next generation.
"I bought a radio especially to hear Radio Sharda. It gives me peace of mind. I switch on Radio Sharda at 7 am every day to hear Kashmiri bhajans and other programmes afterwards," an 82-year-old listener, Avtar Krishen Bhat said.
"It brings old memories of Kashmir back to my mind and make me feel that I am still living in my home in the valley," Avtar said.
Like him, the young Kashmiri Pandits listen to community radio's Kashmiri songs.
"I love its foundation slogan - Booziv Te Khosh Rooziv. I tune into the radio station on my mobile and cherish Kashmiri songs," a 19-year Kashmiri Pandit student Shivansh Raina said.
The radio also acts as an information dissemination centre. The Kashmiri Pandits who stay away from home had contacted the radio station to get information about their kin in the valley after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and, during the Kashmir floods in 2014, Hangloo said.
The radio station which bagged two national awards for Community Radio in 2018 and 2019 has never stopped transmission since the beginning of its operation.
The radio will be airing a 'live herath' pooja on the occasion of Kashmiri Pandits' biggest festival, Maha Shivratri known as 'Herath' in Kashmir. It will be celebrated on February 17-18.
While the significance of the festival changes from place to place, for Kashmiri Hindus, it is the day of the divine wedding of Lord Shiva with Mata Parvati called 'Harratri'.