Pakistani artists perform dhamaal at Sehwan shrine after suicide attack
Leading Pakistani artists are visiting the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sindh province to express solidarity with performers after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 88 people there last week.world Updated: Feb 21, 2017 22:08 IST
A number of leading Pakistani performers and artists have been visiting the shrine of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh province to express solidarity with performers there after an attack last week by an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 88 people and injured hundreds more.
Representatives of civil society have decided on daily visits to the shrine to display "a determination to stand by the values of harmony, tolerance and freedom of expression". The gatherings at the shrine started on Sunday and included a protest walk and a dance performance by classical dancer and social activist Sheema Kermani.
Clad in an orange-coloured dress that symbolised the attire of the Sufis, Kermani danced in the shrine’s compound while Nanga Fakir, a group of folk singers from Badin, sang songs praising the Sufi saint. “Oh lal meri pat rakhio bhala jhooley lalan“ and “Tera Sehwan rahe abad”, they sang.
Kermani told reporters the idea behind her dance "was to tell the perpetrators of terrorism that nobody can stop dance and music. These are part of our heritage, our culture."
The artist said she intended to perform ‘dhamaal’, the ecstatic spiritual dance which the saint used to perform in his life. Dhamaal is perfromed to the beat of the ‘naghara’, a percussion instrument, and scheduled after the Maghrib or evening prayer.
The suicide bomber struck on February 16 when a large number of people were performing dhamaal at the shrine. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State, which views Sufism as heretical. Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair described the province as the “land of Sufis” and said the terrorists had deliberately targeted the devotees of the shrine.
Kermani, whose parents hailed from Lucknow and Hyderabad, is proficient in several Indian classical dance forms, including Kathak, Bharatanatyam and Odissi. The dancer, who has received threats from extremists in the past, said the message she had for attackers was that people who do not like the culture of shrines do not have to visit these places.