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Monirah Hashemi performing Pishpo. Photo by Monirah Hashemi.


Pishpo is about 2000 years old and used to be danced in front of Buddha (at that time there were Buddhists). Raqs is “soft”, like a soft dance, or ladies dancing. It’s very popular and everyone can do it. Bandari – it’s the name of a city in south Iran but also a dance from there – is something I used to dance, but only in Iran. Those in Northern Iran can’t do the dance as well. I can dance it well. Sakina guzlari literally means the “game of a song,” and it’s pretty similar to Arab dancing. Those in northern Iran know it well and girls dance well.

I like to dance at home, not a special place for dancing in public. I dance weekly for my husband and son and at parties at home (birthdays, goodbye parties, weddings) with all women. At coffee shops and restaurants its forbidden. Males and females cannot dance. Islam has banned dancing in mixed parties, it’s haram. No, there are no particular verses in the Qur’an that mention dancing, but indirectly , mentions touching men, being with men in a room lonely isn’t allowed, drinking with men is banned, so it’s implied that it’s haram. The mullahs also announced that dancing is haram, that women dancing for men, but my husband, brother, and son are okay. When a lady decides to be a theater or cinema artist, people will think that she is a whore. Today there is a brave lady (Monira) dancing raqs professionally at the Afghan Cultural House in front of the public. After dancing, she left the ceremony very quickly because it was very dangerous. Monira learned pishpo in Germany. She found an Afghan lady who was very old and learned Pishpo, but people heard that she did. Monira is a professional though, she’s an actress. She’s a theater artists. She left Afghanistan to go to Sweden. Because of her job, she had many problems with society. All of her friends are theater artists or dancers. In the theater, she danced sometimes, or wore different clothes.

I make time every week to read friends’ blogs. People would be interested to talk about many different kinds of dance. Right now there are many blogs about Pishpo. 2-3 days ago, I read a blog about Pishpo. Mullahs would be interested in talking about dance – they show that they are the opposition so that they can guide people to pray instead of dancing. You’d can be sure that mullahs would be there to stop the blog. It’s definitely important that Pashtun and Tajik ladies chime in. Hazara women have more freedom so maybe have different ideas.

I am Afghan woman, I dance to show you that I am alive.


Location: Kabul, Afghanistan

Age: 31

Gender: Female

Ethnicity: Hazara

STORY ID: 00032

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© 2016 by Dance Afghanistan.

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