ASI Sufi fest finds way into city’s cultural calendar

Last week, director-designer-writer Muzaffar Ali wowed the Delhi audience with his brainchild, Jahan-e-Khusrau — a three-day festival to commemorate the death anniversary of Sufi saint Hazrat Amir Khusrau.

Now, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), in collaboration with Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Central Public Works Department and the MCD brings its first ever heritage festival — Jashn-e-Khusrau — as part of the Urban Renewal Programme undertaken by ASI and the Trust.

The festival, starting on Thursday, will be set against the resplendent backdrop of Chaunsath Khamba located in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti and the lawns of the Humayun's Tomb — incidentally, this is where Khusrau started the quwwali music tradition in the 13th Century.

"Monuments are not just tourist destinations. The concerts to be held at heritage sites will have arrangements for almost 2,000 people. I am sure it is going to be an invaluable addition to the city's cultural calendar," ASI Superintending Archaeologist (Delhi) K K Muhammed said.

The festival has invited six groups of Khanqahi quwwals, of which two are from Pakistan. Farid Ayaz, Abu Muhammad and their group from Karachi will perform the repertoire of Khusrau's qalaam on March 10.

Khanqahi quwwals from Uttar Pradesh and Delhi will also participate in the festival. "Khanqahs were hospices for Sufi travellers. The quwwals would then sing in these dargahs. The art form is almost dead now as Khanqahi quwwals are not concert artistes in India. If this art form can be revived through this festival, it will prove a big achievement as they do not have any source of livelihood," says Irfan Zuberi, consultant with Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

The festival opens with a poetry recital by Syed Shahid Mahdi at the India International Centre. Heritage walks will also be held on March 7, 11 and 12, concluding near the tomb. There will be discussions on the contribution of Amir Khusrau to the Qawwali tradition on March 6.

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