Salika Nighat strives to revive “Naqsbandi”- The Mandala art of Kashmir

Raised by a single mother, Salika Nighat is braving all odds to conquer the dream she and her mother had once dreamt together.

The life that is defined by sacrifices and struggles, Salika started her artistic career when she was just three years old.

Calligraphy is what she kicked her career off with, but calligraphy was too common as an art that Salika while researching about the careers in arts once came across a unique and very rare art – “The Mandala Art.”

The Sanskrit word mandala means “circle.” The circular patterns depict the reality that in life everything is interconnected. Mandalas come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They’re usually made out of paper or fabric, drawn with threads on a board, fashioned out of bronze, or carved out of stone.

Picture of a masterpiece by Salika Nighat

Salika started working on this unique art in the year 2020 and when she started showcasing her drawings on Instagram, her art was received well by the viewers.

Soon after her art went viral on social media, she was approached by “Hannah International” a multinational company that wanted her to work for them as an artist where she was supposed to dot-paint the LED lights and other decoration items which the company exports to Dubai and other foreign countries.

“I thought I was too young to work for a multinational company and my mom wants me to excel in studies too, so I had to drop the plan.” Said Salika while talking to The Kashmir Radar correspondent, Umran Hussain.

Salika after completion her schooling from “Tahira Khanum public school” in Srinagar, has taken humanities as her subject and wants to pursue a degree in law, as her mother whom Salika gives all the credit everytime she mentions about a success, wants her to become a lawyer.

Dot painting or Mandala is a very difficult art to master on the biggest level, as it needs lots patience.
“After I complete a piece of it, I literally find it difficult to open my eyes properly, I feel an uneasy pain in my eyes.” Said Salika.

Moreover, “Mandala art technically needs “micro pens” to make it better, but the rarity of the art is such that I couldn’t find any such pen in Kashmir even after an exhaustive search. I now use normal pen and paper to make it even look better.” Said salika.

Mandala art is what we call “Naqsbandi” in kashmiri. The legend has it that mughals brought this art to Kashmir as various ancient shrines and mosques in Kashmir are decorated with this beatiful master art.
In addition to mosques, various temples too can be seen decorated with such an art.
“This art carries a spiritual meaning in it, one feels hypnotized on continuously gazing on such master pieces. It dates back to the 4th century. Very ancient and extremely precious.” Said Salika.

Salika is raised by a single mother who was divorced only after four years of her marriage. Surviving alone with her two kids, Salika’s mother, Nighat is an inspiration who has smashed all stereotypes and fought a lonely battle to raise her kids, sent them to valleys best schools to secure their future.

Mandala painting by Salika Nighat

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