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Spiritual Meditations ( 24 Feb 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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A Musical Tryst With Sufi Legacy

By Neha Mathur

Jahan- e- Khusrau festival returns with some new names and some old

IT’S A rare event to see carefree youngsters hang around to hear a woman sing in a language alien to them. Especially at a time when the 17- year-old popular American band, Backstreet Boys, has just performed live in the city.

But that’s what the event held at Select City Walk, Saket, on Monday, to formally announce the launch of this year’s Sufi music festival, Jahan-e-Khusrau, succeeded in achieving. The young brigade of shoppers at the city’s busiest mall stopped by for more than just curiosity’s sake, to appreciate Radhika Chopra’s Sufi songs and the performance by the Japanese dancer Masako Ono, both of whom are part of the upcoming festival, to be held at Arab Ki Sarai, Humayun’s Tomb, from February 25 to 28. Some such shoppers even purchased tickets for the festival from the counter at the mall.

The eighth edition of the festival returns to the city after two years as the venue, with which the festival has become synonymous, wasn’t available to the organisers. “Delhi government realised the importance of the festival by not having it for two years,” said Muzaffar Ali, the designer/ filmmaker whose brainchild the festival is.

One of the most regular names at Jahan-e-Khusrau, the sensational Pakistani Sufi singer Abida Parveen, as expected, is part of this edition too. Parveen, known for her throaty voice, will perform on the concluding day of the festival at the UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to 1562 AD.

Ono, who is slated to perform on February 26, is a first-timer at the festival. “A lot of people can’t differentiate between Sufism and Islam,” she said. “ They think it’s the same thing and don’t often come to see the performance.” Hopefully, Delhi will give a memorable reception to Ono.

Turkish performer Omar Faruk Tekbilek and Egyptian folk dancers called the Tannoura Troupe are the other highlights of the festival. The latter will perform Lafife, a moving meditation where dancers move in circles to demonstrate their love for God; something quite similar to the whirling dervishes of Turkey.

From Delhi, the festival goes to Jaipur for a day. “ We also want to take it to Punjab and different parts of Rajasthan, where Sufism is evident,” said Dilshad Sheikh, founder member of the Rumi Foundation, that co- organises Jahan- e- Khusrau.

Arjun Sharma, owner of the mall, hoped that Jahan- e- Khusrau would help promote tourism in the country. “ I have been to the festival once and simply loved it,” he said. “ If the government takes it upon itself to promote it the way they do other events, it is surely going to bring home tourists from world over.” Don’t miss the show if you enjoy mushaira — this will be one of the biggest attractions of the festival and is being held for the first time.

Besides, films made by Muzaffar Ali will also be shown during the three- day festival, at the ICCR auditorium at ITO. The tickets for the festival, priced at Rs 300 and Rs 500, are available at Full Circle and Kotwara Studio in Khan Market, and Select City Walk and Emporio malls.


February 25; 6.30 p. m.

ICCR Auditorium, Azad Bhawan, ITO: Sufiana Mushaira February 26; 6.30 p. m.

Arab Ki Sarai: Masako Ono, Sanam Marvi ( Pakistan) with Samandar Khan and group ( Rajasthan); Rabbi Shergill February 27; 6. 30 to 9 p. m.

Arab Ki Sarai: Tanmoura Troupe ( Egypt); Radhika Chopra and, Omar Faruk Tekbilek and ensemble ( USA) February 28; 6.30 p. m.

Arab Ki Sarai: Ballet on Bulleh Shah by Astad Deboo, songs by folk singer Malini Awasthi ( India) and, Abida Parveen ( Pakistan)

Source: Mail Today, New Delhi


Divine design will guide you

By Muzaffar Ali

February 24th, 2010

How to reinvent human expression forever throws up new challenges. It is a spiritual quest as much as it is a material exercise. This happens all the time in music, where the same voice and the same instruments are capable of scaling great heights, and can send you plummeting down to baser feelings. It happens with words. It happens with images — frozen or moving. It happens all the time, in every form.

In this phenomenon the positivity of the answer lies in your being in quest, in following your heart, as against being used. This is most easily perceived, not by self-centered intellectuals and conceited artists but by simple pure souls.

To be directed by Divine design it is important to be weightless, without baggage. This liberation comes from a special calling. Your creativity has to be hidden and at the same time revealed. You become privy to secrets and in the process like a spinning darvesh with one hand extended to the sky to receive and the other pointing down to disseminate what you are receiving thus transmitting His grace.

Your creativity becomes creating with the people and for the people, and not with the idea of selling but with the passion of enriching the experience of Divine design. You may not be a direct instrument of creation but can fall in the “for” category. And one should be content with this.

A friend of mine once said that if you can get to hear good poetry, why write poetry. Since then I have been a creative and receptive reader and listener. I consider poetry as the mother art. It is a stage of life when someone else is speaking through you. You can never say when that moment will happen. You may start as a poet in love penning love sonnets, or become a revolutionary with stirring words building the romance of the plight of the dispossessed, or finally express your disillusionment with life. But you never know when He is going to speak through you or you to Him.

When you will become part of the Divine design, is again a matter of that celestial programme. Prophets and saints have reached that point of epiphany at different stages in their respective lives.

For some it has been a direct revelation and some through their Pir. The Pir in Tasawwuf (Sufiism) plays a very vital role. The epiphany can be so powerful that it can blow your brains if not directed... like a wild horse where the rider has left hold of the reins... The power which begins to reflect through him can be dazzling that it can leave you overwhelmed, as it happened with Moses. The Husn-e-Jaana, the beauty of the Beloved, has to be mellowed and softened, spanned over a lifetime, which can only be done by the Pir. The intervention of the Pir or the Guru is the most important way to convert that raging fire of love into a gentle all embracing glow reflecting his generous and loving presence.

This illumination can happen at anytime in your life, at any age. Amir Khusrau was eight when, by Divine grace he met his Pir, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. He sat outside his khanaqah, and said to himself “I look for my Pir who will beckon me with his divine power”. And in that state he composed a quatrain and passed it to the presence of the saint.

“Oh mighty King, you empower the humblest of birds perched upon your palace to become a powerful hawk. Such a meek person waits outside, will he be beckoned or should he go away?”

To which came the reply. “If you are the one who knows the Truth, come in, share a moment of Divine secrets. If you know not what I say then the path that brought you here will take you away”. The saint knew that this was the moment which was designed by destiny, which would change the way of seeing the world. How the eyes of love, watered by the tears of submission, will give new meaning to verse and song.

As I sit at the threshold of the 8th Jahan-e-Khusrau, to happen in the precincts of the tombs of the master Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia and his disciple Amir Khusrau we pray for that moment of Divine design that will accept the supplication of the artistes who will perform with abandon and surrender during these three days.

We talk of the same reflection, abandon and surrender as Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi addressing his mentor Shams Tabrez,

Manam aan niyaazmande ki betu niyaaz daaram

Gham e chun to naazninee bahazaar naaz daaram

(I am that supplicant who makes supplication to thee;

The anguish inspired by a charmer like thee hath for me a thousand charms.)

Tui aaftab chashmam ba jamaal tust raushan

Agar az tu baazgeeram bake chashme baaz daaram

(Thou art the sun of mine eyes — they are radiant with thy beauty;

If I draw them away from thee, to whom shall I look again?)

Or in the words of Khusrau to his master Hazrat Nizamuddin, who donned a tilted cap...

Kaj kulah kama kusha tang qabaye keesti

labagaran wa dilbara ushwa numaye keesti

(O one with a tilted cap, a fitted garb parted open,

O beloved seducer, reflection of whose endearing ways are you.)

It is the same resonance that emerges from a spiritual quest; the dawning of the same beauty that reinvents human expression; the glow of that Divine design which will forever grace the world.

— Muzaffar Ali is a painter and filmmaker who finds inspiration in Sufi poetry and music

Source: Decan Chronicle, Hyderabad (India)

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