Muzaffar Ali, the festival has attracted keen listeners of the classical tradition of music from far and wide. "I don't know whether it could be termed big," says Ali bashfully.
But he is aware of cutting across geographical boundaries and strike a note of harmony with a lot of Bangladeshi and Pakistani singers, "all of whom are very enthusiastic about performing here in India," he says with pride, though he doesn't let it overpower his role as the primary source behind the festival. "It's strange how every one of us feels the same about nature, and have the same emotions and yet there is so much animosity that all those feelings get lost," rues Ali.
Ali tries to see the world as one and for many like-minded people, he has decided to fill the vacuum with a concept where the festival, with a certain theme fulfills the need for a cause - that of purifying one's inner thought process with poetry and mystic verses. "I want to spread the basic message of love through music of this kind since music and the rhythms of the heart are not anyone's heritage, it is owned by others too," believes the director of the classic Umrao Jaan, starring Rekha.
For the benefit of the purists, who disown the cacophony that passes off as music today, he is also of the firm opinion that one's journey into the unknown (in this case, the mysticism that Sufi and songs of Lalan Fakir have) is one's own. "I am just a conduit and am not an educator, my job is to sensitise people and let them enjoy the essence of all that the singers present," says Ali.
This year the unique aspect of the three day festival, beginning February 28th to March 2nd at the Humayun's Tomb, New Delhi is the coming together of Zila Khan, the grand daughter of Ustad Inayat Khan and Ustad Vilayat Khan's daughter as the first in the seven generations of woman perfomers from her family to grace the stage. Also, performing will be Farida Parveen, the Sufi singer from Bangladesh who along with Madhusudan, a Baul singer from West Bengal, will present a composition together, apart from presenting their individual compositions in their styles.
"Amir Khusrau's works are much deep rooted than they seem to be, for, he is an icon, and the most vital link in the arts," states Ali about his passion for Sufi and poetry and believes that the most important part of the heritage passed on from one generation to another, is that it allows itself to completely surrender, submit and also preserve the finer subtleties into your heart. "In that sense, it cleanses your heart too," he concludes.
The singers may belong to different nations, speak different languages and even look different from one another, what beckons them is the voice of God, which is one and of course, their innate love and passion for music, which transcends beyond the physical into the spiritual.