Tryst with Folksingers



Now, when I am in the ripe age, the ‘dissolving dawn’ often sets me thinking, if the daybreaks during my childhood were far different than they are now. Most of the times, I do feel day broke differently those days in our county. Everything around, seemed drowned in ‘noor’- it never meant just the  light but something far beyond - a phenomenon that hardly could be translated into words  but needs  to be read and interpreted as a metaphor.
The golden steeples of minarets of masjids, astanas and khanaqahs dominating the sky line glistening in morning rays and the devotional poetry, na’ts, ‘mankabats’and heart touching Awrad-i Fathiyya filled the air adding a distinctive spiritual ambiance to the part of city. On occasions the divine sufiana music would become part of the heavenly wee morning hours and lend different meaning to mornings. Divinity of ‘dissolving dawns’ in my childhood had convinced me that mysticism   and my birthplace were made for each other.
Our county that had touched heights of scholarship and emerged as centre of art and culture
during the period of the Sultans had for centuries echoed with Persian and Kashmiri poetry put
to music by great maestros.  I do remember that even during our childhood the melodious notes of Santoor in sync with those of saz-e-kashmir, wa’sol and madham coming out of Dewan-Khana  of rich families in our part of city animated the ‘quiet nights and filled the atmosphere with songs of Rumi and Hafiz. Many well-do families often hosted sufiana music mahafils  at their places- many families lived up to this tradition even up to late seventies. Mostly of these mahafils were organized on Thursday-nights (Shaba-Juma) and during the month of Rabi' al-awwal.  Dervishes attended mostly such mahafils, some of whom would not only be Sufi poets themselves but also masters who understood every beat of this highest form of music.
 I have no definite idea how many great music maestros of sufiana music were born in and around our locality. Sitting as a mute spectator in a tailor’s shop in our Mohalla I often heard a couple of elders taking about some Khalla Saib of Naid Kadal- who they said was great master of sufiana music - held in high esteem by all  contemporary masters. Another great name connected with sufiana music in our locality was of Shamas-u-Din popularly known as Hirath Kamili grandfather one of my classmates. He was not a top Persian poet, whose songs were put to music by great maestros but also an exponent Sufiana music He lived at a distance two hundred yards from my home. There has been hardly a locality in the “downtown” that has not produced great singers and musicians. Many names either are buried in the hinterland of my mind or have totally evaporated but the names of great masters that have been embossed on my mind and are part of my memoirs are those of Ramzan Joo, Ghulam Muhammad Qalanbaf, Ustad Kamal Bhat, Mohammad Abdullah Tibetbaqal and Ghulam Mohammad Saznawaz.
Sufiana music despite being elitists was also admired by commoners. Nevertheless, the singers for the working class were mostly folk singers who put poetry of great Sufi poets like that of Rehman Dar, Naima Sahib Shams-Faqir, Wahib Khar, Ahmed Batwar, Waza Mehmood, Samad Mir and Ahad Zargar to music. These also sang in highly spiritual mahfils for Dervishes. The first folk singer, I have seen as a child singing in well-attended mahafil was folk singer was Sula Band (Mohammad Sultan Bhat). In our neighborhood, a family arranged musical mahafils for one or other Dervish- perhaps one of the elderly family member of the family was himself a Dervish. On a few occasion, I had seen Bhat singing in their house. Later, in my life, I came to know intimately many legendry folk singer- who were geniuses in their own right.

Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Sep 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Sep 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 8 Sep 2013 00:00:00 IST

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