Sanyukta Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; May 2, 2017)

Actress-activist Dia Mirza, who was in Kashmir to attend Jashn-e-Baramulla, a two-day youth festival organised by the army to raise awareness and create jobs for the locals, topped her riveting speech at the event by participating in cultural acts put up by the locals.

“There was a girl band and performances on Kashmiri folk songs. The grace with which the young girls danced to the music that captures true ‘Kashmiriyat’, the Sufi qawwals, gave me goosebumps,” Dia, who returned to Mumbai on April 26 told Mirror.

Noting that the youth in the Valley, despite their extraordinary circumstances, just want to live their lives to their fullest potential like their counterparts everywhere else, Dia said, “There is no dearth of talent in the Valley; all they need is the freedom and awareness to make choices.”

The actress, who had always wanted to visit Kashmir, had taken off to Gulmarg with her businessman-film producer husband, Sahil Sangha, for their first wedding anniversary in 2015.

“It will always be my most special memory of being in the Valley. Gulmarg is truly spellbinding. I always make it a point to experience a place even if I am visiting it only for work. This time I went a day ahead of schedule and spent the most amazing six hours exploring Srinagar. I took a ride in the shikara on the Dal Lake, sipping hot kawa, and absorbing the natural beauty that surrounded us. It was like being in a poem. The tulip gardens are a sight to behold. We ended our time in Srinagar eating garam pakodas and tea cakes. It was surreal!” Dia exulted.