Music sans frontieres: Sufi festival comes to town

Wandering minstrels from Bengal, mystics from Gujarat, Assam, Rajasthan, and Punjab will share musical platform.

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The wanderers are here to strike roots in the city’s soul. With the 5th Sufi & Mystic Music Festival — Ruhaniyat — round the corner, Mumbai will play host to about 200 artistes coming from far and wide for this unique festival. Imagine witnessing the wandering minstrels from Bengal, Sufis from Gujarat, Assam, Rajasthan, and Punjab and a number of other fascinating musicians sharing a platform.

The festival, organised by Banyan Tree,  is spread over two days. It is the brainchild of Mahesh Babu, director of Banyan Tree. The festival began five years ago with no sponsors.

“I have been interested in Sufi music since the past 10 years. I would go to the remotest dargahs in Gulbarga, Gwalior, and other places to listen to authentic Sufi music,” says Babu, who is thrilled to be organising the festival.

Sixty per cent of the artistes featured in the festival are new.

“This year we have Sansi Women from Assam who have travelled to Pakistan extensively, but will be coming to India for the first time,” explains Babu.

Besides this, the highlights are performances by Zikr-e-Rifayi, fakirs from Hyderabad,  who were discovered at a dargah in Hyderabad.

The major attractions, however, are performances by the Wadali Brothers. They have been performing for Banyan Tree since the last 10 years.

Parvati Baul, a baul singer, who has gained international acclaim, apparently performed in India for the first time for ‘Ruhaniyat’.

“Most of the artistes know only their language. We are looking at holding the festival in four other cities — Bangalore, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Pune — as well,” adds Babu.

The festival will be held on November 19 and 20 at  the Horniman Circle Gardens, Fort, from 6:30 pm onwards. Donor cards, valued at Rs 300 per day, are available at Rhythm House.

Mystic line-up
This year’s Ruhaniyat will feature:
Zikr-e-Rifayi: Fakirs (Hyderabad)
Baul songs: Parvathy Baul, Madan Vairagya and Laloo Fakir (Bengal)
Sufi Kalam and mystic compositions: Sansi women, Kachra Khan, Padmaram et al (Rajasthan)
Sufi Qawwali: Sabri Brothers (Jaipur), Wadali Brothers (Punjab)
Sufiana Ghazals: Vithal Rao (Hyderabad)

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