To commemorate the second death anniversary of the victims of a deadly bombing at the shrine of Laal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, and to strengthen its platform for interfaith and communal harmony, Tehrik-e-Niswan has planned to organise an open public discussion and a communal meal and perform a Sufi dance at the shrine on February 17.
The event will highlight the need to preserve and secure the traditional culture of Sindh, and to promote peace, respect and interfaith harmony.
At a press conference held in the Karachi Press Club before departing for Sehwan, Sheema Kermani while speaking on behalf of Tehrik-e-Niswan said the aim of the event was to strengthen the movement for humanism and expand it to other parts of the province, such as the Mandir at Sadho Bela, the Ashram of Bhagat Kanwar Ram, the Dargah of Budha Lal Faqir and the shrine of Sachal Sarmast.
Tehrik-e-Niswan goes with the message of love, respect and peace; humanism and human development. Such sacred spaces have always existed for devotees belonging to all faiths, to visit in freedom and communal harmony.
Kermani said: “We need to recognise, appreciate and preserve our traditional art, culture, folklore, customs, dance and music, and, most importantly, our link to humanistic thought and way of life. Diversity, pluralism, inclusivity, peace and tolerance have been a traditional hallmark of Sindhi society and devotees at this Dargah do not belong to any one religion; they represent all faiths.”
She added the sound of music and the Dhamaal dancers' bells had resonated and had always been part of the Sufi tradition of humanism, interfaith harmony, promoting tolerance and peace, and bringing people together.
This philosophy was directly targeted and attacked in 2017 and now we all must work together to regain, preserve, protect and promote it, she added. Pakistani devotional dancing known as Dhamaal is performed by both men and women at the shrines of holy personages, including Sufi poets and saints.
South Asia’s Sufi saints and poets were dancers themselves, notably Ameer Khusrau, who created the musical genre Qaul (Qatvivali) and sang and danced at the grave of his Pir, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, and eminent Sindhis, including Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast, Bhagat Kanwar Ram and Budha Lal Faqir, who themselves recited, sang and danced, and their devotees still do so, Kermani said.
"We urge all of you to join hands to preserve and promote the beautiful art, culture and inclusive character of Sindh, the cradle of the world's oldest civilisation, denouncing all kinds of bigotry, extremism, arid hatred against anyone. Together with Pakistanis of different faiths, we will continue to visit major shrines, temples and ashrams to perform the Dhamal and hold Kachehris to regain and promote the true message of love, peace, respect and harmony. We will highlight the importance of poetry, art, music and dance in our traditional thought, beliefs and culture."