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Mystics on a song

music Updated: Nov 14, 2011 00:09 IST
Vaishali Bhambri
Vaishali Bhambri
Hindustan Times
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Taking you on a mystic journey yet again, is this decade-old Sufi music festival that is back in the city, this time with the backdrop of the historic Purana Quila. One of the oldest and largest all India Sufi and mystic music festivals — Ruhaniyat, will have monks, fakirs, bauls, storytellers, folk musicians, Qawwals from across India, and also performers from other countries, perform at the same platform.

“We started this festival 11 years ago, to bring some peace to the city, and to give rural performers, who are extremely poor, a chance to perform,” says Mahesh Babu, managing director and the founder of the festival.

The festival will see performances such as Zikr-e-Rifayi by fakirs of Andhra Pradesh, Kabir Bani from Rajasthan by Mukhtiyar Ali and group, Sema by Whirling Dervishes of Turkey, and much more. And with the Old Fort in its backdrop, the experience is certainly going to be perfectly serene and magical. “After a lot of effort, we got Purana Quila as the venue. What could be better than some soothing Sufi music at a beautiful historic monument,” says Babu.

“I have performed in Delhi quite a few times before but have never performed at Purana Qila! Many Qilas in India have been built to honour musicians,” says Mukhtiyar Ali, who will perform present compositions of Sufi Saint Kabir with his group.

This apart, the audience will also be introduced to some new styles of Sufiana music. “Earlier, we performed Jikir-Jari and Boro Geet only in small programs in Assam but now through Ruhaniyat we get an opportunity to perform these traditional compositions in several cities without any alterations,” says Hafiza Begum Chaudhury from Assam, who will be giving a group performance with her group.

Something that one must watch out for are the Baul songs. “Baul is the song of the inner body of the yogis of India that leads to spiritual revelation. Typically these songs have two layers of meaning — one which is apparent and understood by all, and the other which is hidden and can be grasped only by people with deeper
understanding. Baul songs talk about tattvas and at times they also describe the path of spiritual sadhana,” says Parvathy baul from West Bengal.