Monday, February 06, 2012

Ruhaniyat - Sufiana samaa under a moonlit sky

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Ruhaniyat the all India Sufi and Mystic Music festival held its annual Pune edition for the 7th time. The very apt location of Empress Botanical Gardens with its open air atmosphere served to set the mood. A bat fluttering across the sky as the moon played hide and seek with tree tops added a touch of surreal. The trees stood silent witness to an eclectic mix of artists that transported the transfixed audience to a higher plane of existence. 

Showcasing diverse artists from Egypt, Turkey and states across India, the audience got a peek into the innermost emotions of artists, each one of them trying to reach out to their maker. 

The Egyptian father son duo of Mohammad Hasan Farghaly and Mohamad Mohammad Farghaly roped in the audience with their opening act, succeeded by the self taught Swarna Noora from Punjab singing Bulleh Shah compositions in her proud voice accompanied by her equally talented son. Latif Bolat from Turkey then took the stage and showed us how closely tied is the experience of Sufi and Kabir's Bhakti movement. The most entertaining group of the evening was Rizmat Barkat and group singing Sufi Kalam's while the crowd couldn't stop clapping as they experienced Gafoor Khan's flying fingers on the Kartal with a younger accomplice matching his taals, the flair and speed moving everyone to the edge of their seats. Parvathy Baul followed with her renditions of soul. It was interesting to observe this self initiate display her dedication to the art. The Whirling Dervish duo Mostafa M Mohamed Hamdan and M Kamel Mohamed Hussain from Assuit, Egypt performed visual drama of taking the soul through a spiritual journey and entered the audience's heart by showering blessings with their flying skirts. The audience then got a break as the now made famous by the famous bollywood film, 'Rockstar', Chand Nizami Qawwali group from Delhi started setting up. Once the audience assembled again, hands started clapping as the Qawwalis tugged at the heart strings of emotions in everyone present finally drawing the evening to a close.

The intention of a Sufi or Mystic performer is to experience the divine through music and songs. In this endeavor some of the spirit rubs off on the audience as well. Banyan Tree is to be commended for conceptualizing this festival allowing the audiences to experience what ordinarily would be far removed from our daily lives. Though the lyrics might have been a barrier at times, if one closed their eyes it would have been possible to touch something deep inside us and the entertainment aside, this aspect of the festival makes it a winner and its subsequent editions more eagerly awaited.

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