ISLAMABAD: The three-day Islamabad Literature Festival came to an end with a Sufi music and dance event on Sunday night. Organised by Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, the evening featured four groups from across Pakistan, who performed to a jam-packed crowd at a local hotel.
The evening kick-started with Akhtar Chanal Zahri’s mesmerising ‘Jhoolay Laal’, where Chanal was on the traditional dambora, one of his band members on the drums, and the other two swaying and singing to the beat. He also sang the much-celebrated Balochi folk ‘Danay Pe Dana’, while his band members provided splendid backing vocals and did the shimmy as they performed.
Shaukat Dholia, who is known for his performances at Baba Shah Jamal’s shrine in Lahore, was up next along with his crew. The group cast a spell with their power-packed dhol performance, which left the audience head-banging and cheering. The malangs whirled across the stage, seemingly under a spiritual trance, masterfully adjusting their rhythm with the beat.
Speaking about performing at Baba Shah Jamal’s shrine, Shaukat toldThe Express Tribune, “Performing at a shrine and watching us perform there is something every Sufi music -enthusiast must experience. It’s at a whole new level.”
Saeen Zahoor, another well-known Sufi musician, sang Baba Bulleh Shah’s ‘Kamlee Aan’ on his Ektara, followed by a mellow yet enchanting version of ‘Allah Hu’. Zuhur gracefully stomped his feet and twirled to the rhythm of his ghungroo, synchronising his movements with the music.
Final performance of the extravaganza was by Mehmud Mian Miri group, a qawwal group formed in 1979 that has been performing at Hazrat Mian Mir’s shrine since the past four decades. Opening with the famous ‘Dillagi’, they performed an upbeat version of ‘Mera Piya Ghar Aya’, leaving the crowd spellbound.
“We haven’t performed at the shrine ever since the Data Darbur bombings happened,” Mehmud shared. “Tonight’s performance was reminiscent of the times we used to perform at the shrine,” he added.
The performance segment ended when Laxmi Naryan Tripathi, a transgender rights activist and Bharatanatyam dancer from India, performed to Mehmud Mian Miri’s tabla.
“I have seen many amazing performances worldwide but have never experienced something as magical as this one” said Erik, an audience member.