New Delhi: “Sufism is not a religion, it is love.” This was the thought that shaped Saturday night. And in the outpouring of love through music and poetry stood six young sign language experts, guiding and interpreting the proceedings for those who had no other way of listening to it.
If the soulful music wasn’t enough to warm the hearts of thousands gathered in the freezing weather, this extra initiative for the hearing impaired surely did at the second edition of The Sufi Route 2019 concert for peace, a concept by Friday Music Project in collaboration with Delhi Tourism. The concert for Sufi music lovers was held at Kalagram, Garden of Five Senses on February 9.
Many artistes made the crowds swoon to their tunes, including the likes of AR Rahman, the star attraction, a man whose voice followers of popular culture recognise too well, with songs like Maa Tujhe Salam and Kun Faya Kun credited to his name. All those gathered saved their energy through the hours to give due credit to his performance. He is known for integrating Indian classical with electronic music, a glimpse of which was witnessed during his performance. Goosebumps could be felt in the chill as he was welcomed with poetry and the words, “Sangeet jaadu ho jaaye toh AR Rahman kehlaata hai.”
The musical journey from traditional qawwali forms of music to modern innovations were not the only attractions as the new venue for the chosen concert was also a factor of awe. Kalagram, whose entrance has been integrated with the 20-acre Garden of Five Senses, helped the audience enjoy a brisk walk through a beautiful garden with fountains in the rocky southern ridge, with a view of several monuments. And right outside the open concert venue were arrangements to enjoy food while grooving to the music. The sets were solely dependent on the artistic liberty of the organisers and they did full justice to them with respect to the changing songs.
Bringing the concert to life were Sufi performers like Dhruv Sangari, who learned classical music at the tender age of seven and later delved into the world of Sufi music by learning qawwali. His performance was followed by that of Jyoti and Sultana Nooran, popularly known as the Nooran Sisters, Sufi singers from Jalandhar who are famous for their blockbuster music. They had the crowd at the word go with tunes people could relate to, including Ankhiyan Udeek Diyan by Pakistani legend Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Patakha Guddi from the movie Highway and Tere Bin Nai Lagda Dil Mera Dholna. They also roped in the crowd to sing along and share their love for music.
Keeping the crowd waiting for more beautiful insights was lyricist Manoj Muntashir, known for Bollywood songs like Galliyan, Tere Sang Yaara and Kaun Tujhe. His constant plea to the audience to believe in Allah inside them captivated the crowd as he urged everyone to not see Sufism as Islam or a religion as, according to him, there is nothing greater for a Sufi than ishq (love). For him, if you’ve ever loved, you’re a Sufi. He spoke of his childhood in beautiful shayari, thinking of it as a time when, “Mazhabon ka zeher tab mere khoon me nahi tha.” (The poison of religion was not in my veins).
Satinder Sartaaj is an Indian Punjabi singer, songwriter, actor and poet, whose ticket to fame was the song Sai, which he performed to a huge round of applause. He expressed delight to be performing for the first time on stage and shared a song he composed recently, Gustaakhi Maaf, with the audience.
With a visual introduction that’s hard to forget, Sami Yusuf, a British singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and record producer, who grew up in London and performs around the world, held the crowd in awe with his voice. He became famous with his debut album Al-Mu’allim in 2003. “In a concert like this, audience participation is ideal so that everyone can feel the music,” he said. He also presented an unreleased song on the stage.