Pakistan's ghazal queen Farida Khanum came, sang and conquered again. Reiterating that "music is the bridge of peace and love", the beloved singer, as popular in India as in Pakistan, had her audience in raptures and clapping endlessly for more.
Khanum, who has been a frequent visitor to India and performs always to a packed auditorium, lit up yet another evening Thursday when she sang at the 'Traditions of Sufism', a three-day event organised by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR).
Nearly 200 fans stood outside the gate pleading to be let in into the Kamani Auditorium while many hundreds waited inside for the magic to begin.
Draped in a shimmering purple sari, which complemented the rosy tinge on her face, Khanum didn't disappoint her fans -- including not only the sombre and the grey haired but also the young jeans clad Sufi music lover.
With not an inch left in the Kamani Auditorium even to stand, she transported her audience to another world with evergreen numbers like Aaj jane ki zid na karo, Mohabbat wale kum na honge and Mere aashiyan mein kya hai.
As her deep throated voice filled the auditorium, people couldn't stop washing her over with a wave of applause time and again, which she would elegantly acknowledge with an 'aadab' and a kiss of her hands.
Bombarded by requests, Khanum gladly obliged all her fans. "Music is the bridge of peace and love between the two countries (India and Pakistan). It can heal any wound," the graceful singer, whose albums are huge hits in India, said.
"Her voice has a magic in it," said Arpita Ghosh, a student who was there at the performance with her friends. "We are all Sufi music fans and Begum Khanum is the best."
"She sings with so much of emotion, it gives me the goosebumps!," said Anjoli Menon, an art critic. "I have always been a fan of hers and will always be," she smiled.