Starting today and sending Sufi music fans in a tizzy comparable to that of the whirling dervishes is the annual Sufi and mystic music festival, Ruhaniyat, organised by Banyan Tree. The festival, which started in 2001 as a one-day affair in the city, now hosts concerts in seven cities across India. “When we first embarked on this mystical journey, we weren’t sure where it will take us,” says Mahesh Babu, managing director of the festival. Providing a platform to fakirs, bauls, storytellers, folk musicians, qawwals with their decade-old event, Mahesh adds, “We hope to make it to 10 cities next year.”
After performing at the Purana Qila in Delhi recently, the artistes are now gearing up for an open-air musical extravaganza in the city, which kicks off today at Horniman Circle. “Ruhaniyat is not complete without Parvathy Baul’s performance,” says Nandini Mahesh, director of the event. “Baul songs are the music of the yogis and have the power to connect with the audience,” she feels. Another staple seen through the years is the qawwali, this year by the Warasi brothers from Hyderabad and Shabir Taj from Kanpur. “It was a hit with the Delhi audience. Mumbai, though has a more esoteric audience, so the newer works may get all the attention,” Mahesh feels.
From Waee music of Kutch to whirling dervishes from Turkey, a form that is sure to arouse the city’s curiosity this time is the Devaram, that features Tamil hymns from the seventh-century. “Nayanmars of Madurai were a real discovery for us,” confesses Nandini, adding, “When we think of classical music from south, it’s only Carnatic that turns up. This Shaivite school has been practising their art for much longer.” Another finding this time is Bulgaria’s Vaya Quartet, which will perform ancient Balkan folk music, sans instruments, on both the days. “What makes it amazing is that they sing polyphonic songs— singing four different notes that make a symphony.”
Ruhaniyat will take place on November 26 and 27, 6.30 pm onwards at Horniman CircleRuhaniyat will take place on November 26 and 27, 6.30 pm onwards at Horniman Circle