When Srinagar hosted a sufi festival recently where Indian and Pakistani artists paticipated together for the first time, audience were amazed to see a new form of sufism when danseuse Manjari Chaturvedi performed kathak on compositions by Amir Khusrau and Hazrat Shahniyaz.
"Both the artists and the audience were intrigued to see something like this. In fact, they told me that they could see traces of Dhamaal (a form of prayer which is a part of the meditation done in the dargah) in my dance," says Manjari, a Sufi Kathak exponent.
But what is beginning to get its due recognition and has aroused interest now, was launched by Manjari way back in 1998.
"I began to perform on Qawwalis back in 1995. But it was in 1998 that I launched Sufi Kathak formally. It is now that it has generated a lot of interest. Now, people want to take it up, practise it and are less apprehensive about it."
Sufi Kathak -- kathak performed on sufi music -- was introduced by Manjari partly to revive the age-old dance form and to incorporate ecstasy in her dance.
"Gradually, all the inputs that people gave me on sufism got incorporated in my dance. Qawaali and Kathak had never come together. But I decided to do just that," she says.
Manjari, who holds a degree in environmental sciences, gets philosophical when she claims she has managed to intersperse folk music with classical art from.
However, Manjari who derives inspiration from musicians from Awadh to Central Asia, flays certain artists for "disrespecting" sufi kathak.
"There are some artists who get a CD of Sufi music and start dancing on it. They don't understand the essence of dance. Just as performing Qawali is not mechanical, performing sufi kathak is also not mechanical. People should not make it a technical exercise," she says.