Pakistanis to perform at India’s devotional music fest

April 4th, 2008 - 6:03 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) Devotion or ‘bhakti’ still connects India with its neighbour Pakistan despite many impediments to peace between the two countries. The country’s lone festival of devotional music, Bhakti Utsav, beginning April 11 will bring a 22-member contingent from Pakistan together with exponents of devotional music from across the country. The three-day fiesta is to be held at the sprawling Nehru Park, in the heart of the capital.

The festival is being organised by Delhi-based cultural forum Seher in association with the Delhi government and the New Delhi Municipal Council.

Bhakti as a tradition and a cult saw wandering saints, devoted to Hindu deities Shiva, Vishnu and Krishna, preaching love for god through music.

The earliest bhakti poets were devoted to the Hindu god Shiva in the eighth century. Known as Nayanar poets, they flourished in Tamil Nadu.

The bhakti movement, which received a boost after the arrival of the Sufi dervishes from Persia during the 13th century, flowered into a parallel socio-cultural mosaic that encompassed every faith.

“Now in its sixth year, the Bhakti Utsav has grown from strength to strength. Music and sports are the two things that connect India to Pakistan. Look at Ghulam Ali, he has brought the people of the two countries so close to each other,” Sanjeev Bhargava, festival director of Seher, told IANS.

This the only festival where music buffs get to hear Kabir, Ram Charitmanas, Baba Bulleh Shah, Thiyagaraj and Amir Khusrau under one roof, he said.

“The unique feature of the festival is that listeners will get to hear at least four different genres of devotional music everyday. The first day will have four components - an inaugural stotra gyan by a group of boys from Orissa.

“They will sing devotional songs known as Sankh Uccharan to the accompaniment of conch shells. It is something Delhi has never heard. The recital will be followed by devotional songs of Kabirdas, Surdas and Meera Bai, and rendition of Sufi songs by Javed Bashir from Pakistan. Day one will end with recital of Marathi Abhang songs by Padma Talwalkar,” said Bhargava.

The festival line-up includes popular contemporary musician Hariharan, Sufi music exponent Hans Raj Hans from Punjab, natya-sangeet and bhavgeet (traditional stage and semi-classical music) singer Pushkar Lele and bhajan exponents Padma Talwalkar and Bombay Jayshri.

“Only devotion can help heal wounds between the two nations,” Abhang exponent Padma Talwalkar told IANS over telephone from Mumbai. A native of Pune, Talwalkar is a student of guru Kishori Amankar and her mother Mogubai Kurdikar.

She sings Marathi devotional songs dedicated to Vitthala, the prime deity of Maharashtra. “I was specifically told to sing Marathi songs so that the audience could get a feel of the language and the tradition of Vitthala devotional music pioneered by Sant Tukaram (a Hindu mystic),” said Talwalkar.

Sufi and Qawaali exponents Javed Bashir, Shafi Mohammad Faqir and Akhtar Sharif Hussain and their troupes will represent Pakistan.

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