Let the music touch your soul

The greatest Sufi musicians in the country are coming together to give the city's cultural scene a spiritual touch through their mesmerising music at the three-day music festival titled Sama'a: The Mystic Ecstasy

"We never know what we are going to be performing. We go on stage and start singing to our guru, our God," says Ustad Pyarelal Wadali, the younger of the famous Wadali Brothers from Amritsar. This devotion and the urge to unite with the divine are undercurrents of Sufiana music, which the audience will experience during the three days of the Sufi music festival, Sama'a: The Mystic Ecstasy, hosted by the NCPA.

Wadali brothers with Puranchand's son Lakhwinder Wadali

The Wadali Brothers, who have captivated audiences worldwide, will be performing at the third edition of the festival. The festival starting tomorrow also includes a documentary based on the life of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Sufi Gospel performance by Sonam Kalra and a performance by Turkish Sufi musicians.

Sonam Kalra, who sings in Western and Indian musical traditions

Make a new start
Singer Sonam Kalra defines the Sufi Gospel Project as "an effort to blend all voices of faith." The project blends traditional Indian instruments and sounds with age old Gospel hymns, Indian text and prayers. "I conceived this project when I was asked to sing Gospel music to commemorate the birth centenary of the Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan at the Inayat Khan Dargah in New Delhi.

I had sung Gospel in churches and at other music venues but for the Urz of Inayat Khan, I wanted to create a sound that blended faiths," explains Sonam. She adds,  "The Sufi Gospel Project is living proof that different hallelujahs can exist in harmony. This is the message we want to share through our music." Sonam has trained in Indian classical music, Gospel, Jazz, western classical opera and hopes to keep her mind open to different musical influences.

"When I sing, I find peace but I also lay myself bare and that in itself is a surrendering of the self," she says. Talking about the merging of two genres, she  believes that even though languages may differ the message remains the same. "Gospel and Sufi music are both about finding a deeper connection with the soul -- about surrendering oneself to the divine."

For the love of a classic
Ustad Puranchand Wadali and Pyarelal Wadali, better known as the Wadali Brothers, need no introduction to people acquainted with the world of Indian music. Given the name they have earned, their humility is striking. Perhaps, that's what makes them such prolific singers. Pyarelal (62), who stated training in music since the age of six, says he has never ever planned what he will perform on stage. The spontaneous performances add an electrifying touch to the Sufiana mood in the auditorium. "We sing according to the mood and go with the flow," he says adding, "Many a times we are so lost in the music that we do not realise the passage of time."

The musicians hail from a village called Guru ki Wadali in Amritsar. They sing the Gurbani, Kaafi, Ghazal and Bhajan. "What we know is still a drop in the ocean. I feel I am just starting to understand music after so many years," says Pyarelal.

Sufi whirling
On the last day of the festival, witness a demonstration of the Sufi whirling practiced by the Konya Turkish Tasawwuf ensemble from Turkey. Konya is a place where the Sufi saint Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi spent the latter part of his life.  Talking about the practice, Dr Suvarnalata Rao, head of programming (Indian music) at NCPA, says, "The Sufi whirling is not a dance. It is a ritual and the Dervishes coming from Turkey will demonstrate the Sufi practice to us. At the end, they go into a trance and they feel united with the Lord. They come back and spread the message of divine love."







November 11

Documentary Film - Mevlana Celaleddin-I Rumi:
Dance of Love

5.30 pm

Godrej Academy Theatre

Entry free


Sufi Gospel: Presentation based on poetry and
music by Sonam Kalra

7.30 pm

Experimental Theatre

Rs 250 and
Rs 150

November 12

Sufiana compositions by Wadali Brothers and group

7 pm

Tata Theatre

Rs 760, Rs 500,
Rs 360 and Rs 240

November 13

Sama Ayins: Whirling Prayer Ceremonies by Konya Turkish Tasawwuf ensemble

7 pm

Tata Theatre

Rs 800, Rs 600,
Rs 400, Rs 200

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