Article: Celebrating Sufism, Khusrau and his kalaams

By  Madhur Tankha

NEW DELHI: To celebrate a shared heritage between India and Pakistan, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in collaboration with India International Centre is hosting an 11-day “Jashn-e-Khusrau” festival here in the Capital beginning this Thursday.

Famous qawwals from India and Pakistan will regale music connoisseurs at the Chaunsath Khambha in Hazrat Nizamuddin basti. The striking Mughal Period-built white marble monument will resonate with Sufiana music on March 5, 6 and 7.

The prestigious festival celebrates the Sufiana kalaam — mystical poetry of Islam — of Amir Khusrau (1253-1325 A.D.) rendered in the khanqah of his beloved pir Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya that has been kept alive for over 700 years by khanqahi qawwali at sama-e-mehfil of the Chistiya silsilah.

For the first time, the Jashn-e-Khusrau festival has been put together as an exclusive assembly of khanqahi qawwals with different dargah affiliations, each performing a repertoire of Amir Khusrau’s kalaam in their distinctive style. The ‘Jashn’ is an integrated effort to showcase the “Aalam-e-Khusrau” project. It includes several related events such as lectures, film shows, heritage walks and an exhibition on the Humayun’s Tomb-Sunder Nursery-Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti urban renewal project.

Jashn-e-Khusrau opens at India International Centre on March 10 with a poetry recital — poems selected by Sunil Sharma and recited by Syed Shahid Mahdi — and an inauguration of an exhibit. The heritage walks of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, led by youth of the basti-trained over the past year, will be held on March 7, 11, 12 and 13 with the meeting point at Shiv Mandir on Lala Lajpat Rai Marg.

On March 11, there will be screening of “Sufi Soul” directed by Simon Broughton and narrated by internationally-acclaimed writer William Dalrymple. Giuseppe Asaro-directed film Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: A voice from Heaven will be screened.

For those with a serious interest in qawwali and Khusrau there will be lectures by Regula Quereshi on March 4 at IIC and by Sunil Sharma on March 11. Dr. Quereshi’s special trip is sponsored by the Canadian Government and she will also be moderating a discussion with the qawwals at Chaunsath Khambha on March 6.

The Aga Khan Trust is organising the festival with the intention of culturally reviving the Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti. It wants to bring alive relatively unknown historic urban spaces that have been sensitively conserved and landscaped. The project is being carried out by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in partnership with the ASI, the MCD and the CPWD. The project components in the Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti couple socio-economic development, urban improvements, conservation and ecological objectives. Community consultations and participation underpin design and implementation of the project which aims to improve the quality of life of the basti’s residents.

Art and music should aid conservation and the Aga Khan Trust has carried out required conservation and landscape works at Chaunsath Khambha to create the performance venue.

Source: The Hindu

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