Thursday, 16 February 2012

Sufi Qawwali In India

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy. See It Full Size On TTP's Tumblr 
"Khawaja Syed Muhammad Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, a Sufi saint, died while in a musical trance induced by a qawwali song"

And I'd say what a wonderful way to go!

Divya Dugar, a photographer and reporter for CNNGo, has just authored an interesting and valuable article on Where To Hear Qawwali In India.

Sufism has many definitions, but mainstream Islamic scholars define it as simply the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam. In Sufism, especially in South Asia, the visitation of the tombs of saints, great scholars, and righteous people is a common practice.

Qawwali is a form of Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia, and is a musical tradition that stretches back more than 700 years. One of its most famous singers is the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Divya takes us to the most famous Sufi shrines in India, and guides us to the Dargah (shrine) of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi, to the neighboring Dargah Hazrat Inayat Khan, to the Dargah of Khawaja Syed Muhammad Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki and finally to the most important shrine, the Dargah of Moin Uddin Chishti in Ajmer (Rajasthan).

The Delhi shrines are my favorite destinations when I'm in Delhi, especially on Thursdays and Fridays to attend the qawwali performances from local singers. The photograph featured for this post was made at the Qutbuddin shrine a few years ago, where I met a Sufi itinerant called Miskine. Extraordinarily photogenic, I found him at one of the many dhabas that surround the shrine, and made a number of photographs of him.

I've produced a number of Sufi-related galleries and audio slideshows on the Sufis. In Search of Sufis In Gujarat is a gallery of stills, while The Possessed of Mira Datar is an audio slideshow of a small shrine in Gujarat.