Mohammad Yaqoob Sheikh places his santoor on a wooden stand and picks up a pair of finely carved wooden mallets or kalems. He holds them carefully between his index and middle fingers. A deep, gripping sound fills the room as he strikes the metal strings of his santoor with the mallets. It’s the kind of music that brims with life. Sheikh stops, looks up and smiles. “Beautiful, isn’t it? The world just ceases to exist for a while,” says the 53-year-old top-grade Sufiana artist who works in Radio Kashmir. The sound of the hundred-stringed Kashmiri santoor is indeed very rich and distinctive. No doubt it is used as an accompaniment to Sufiyana Mausiqi, the soul-stirring music of Sufis.

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