Friday, February 22, 2008
This is a tale of three musical nights in February. The first, part of The Banyan’s annual celebratory fundraiser, is Basant Utsav in its tenth edition this year.
The second tale concerns Ruhaniyat, the all-India Sufi and Mystic Music Festival brought to Chennai for the third year by Banyan Tree Events, at the Madras Race Club grounds.
And to the third musical night: Shankar Mahadevan at College of Engineering, Guindy, courtesy CEG-Anna University’s Techofes.
On the second night [Ruhaniat] the mood was set right away by the Siddhis of Gujarat who trace their origins to Africa, evoking the desert and seeking Allah’s blessing. They were dressed in pristine white robes.
Performers and practitioners from all over India — Dron Bhuyan and group from Assam, Parvathy Baul from Bengal, Kachra Khan, Mahesaram and others from Rajasthan, the Nizami brothers, to name a few — drew wah-wahs and kya baat hais from the wildly elated audience, some who have been coming to Ruhaniyat regularly, and some newly initiated.
His sonorous rendering somehow connected with resonances of an M.D. Ramanathan! When he recited lines from a poem with the refrain ‘Hairatteym, hairatteym’ (I am amazed, I am amazed), the enchantment was magical.
There was food, there was socialising, but the spirit of ruhaniyat reached out and, through the listeners, went beyond flesh and blood, which had been nicely roused by the Nizami brothers’ qawwali.
Incidentally, the sound arrangements at MRC were superb. And the compere was gracious, clear, unpretentious, well-informed and sharing.
We learned something about sufi and mystic music that night not only from the music itself, but also from her. She deserves special thanks.
[Picture: Sufi musician Latif Bolat].