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April 15, 2019

A stunning performance of ‘qawwali’


April 15, 2019

Islamabad: As summer approaches, different voluntary organizations organize ‘end of the season’ events to take a break during the summer months. The first to do so was Mausikaar Welfare Trust and the program was a rousing, enjoyable performance of ‘qawwali’ held at the residence of the oldest and strongest supporters of the Trust, Mr and Mrs Sohail Kyani. The event was well attended by members and their guests, which included a number of diplomats who heard this genre of music for the first time and were won over by the special sound and rhythm. While an ideal ambience for a ‘qawwali’ is floor seating, a very pleasant one had been created with tables and chairs since dinner was also served after the performance. Guests had been asked to come in traditional outfits and a few - including committee members - got into the spirit of the evening and dressed accordingly. Bracelets (gajras) of roses were presented to the ladies, while the gents were given ‘topis’(caps) made of brocade and most of them were sporting enough to wear them! ‘Saunf’ (sweetened aniseed) and another freshener with coconut were served, as well as ‘paan’ (betel leaf with areca nut).

Welcoming the gathering, founder president Mausikaar, Dr Seema first of all thanked the hosts for their generosity and support; said a few words about the Trust and the important work it is doing; added some information about Qawwali; introduced the Sultan-ul-Qadiria Qawwali group and concluded by hoping everyone would enjoy the evening.

The programme began with the well-known Sufi composition, ‘Allah hoo’ followed by ‘Ali Maula’; a few other not so familiar ones and concluded with ‘Mast Qalander,’ the signing off number. The percussionist who gave his name as ‘Billo’ and was playing three kinds of drums at the same time – ‘dhol’, ‘tabla’ and banjo -- was outstanding in his mastery over the instruments. The applause and verbal praise which followed each rendering of the group indicated the audience enjoyed the performance, so it was a feather in the cap of the organizing team which included committee members, Masood Hashmi; Mahreen Khan; Nouman Mohammd Zai; Almina Salahuddin and Faiza Iqbal. “This is the first time I have heard such music and I really enjoyed it,” said a German lady. “My only issue is that it was a bit loud!”

The Sultan ul Qadiria qawwal group of Rawalpindi, followers of Sufi saint Syed Abdul Qadir Jilani of Baghdad from the 11th century, was established in 2010 by lead vocalists, Raheem ud Din and Mohammad Javed with the aim to ‘revive the era of ‘qawwali’ and spread the message of Allah Almighty through Sufi Music.’ They are getting recognised and popular for their robust performances and their signature style of wearing green turbans and sporting long hair and beards.

‘Qawwali’ is defined as a style of Sufi devotional music marked by rhythmic improvisatory repetition of a short phrase, intended to rouse participants to a state of mystical ecstasy. Mausikaar is a music organisation established for the preservation of the traditional music of Pakistan and the welfare of the country’s artistes.

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