Thursday December 14, 2017

Sufi devotional music using robab declining due to lack of devotion: Daud Khan Sadozai


By Kishori Sud

With his roots in Afghanistan, robab exponent Daud Khan Sadozai says that the art of Sufi devotional music with such musical instruments is diminishing in the world as there is less or no devotion among today’s youngsters.

Sadozai who has been in the profession since he was a child, said that when he learnt this art, music was taken very seriously and was worshipped by the students, but now a days, the key to learning this style – patience – is lost.

“At that time, musicians used to be serious, they worshipped the art. People have lost the power of patience today and now everything comes at a price so it has turned into show business. You need patience for these kind of arts because they are meditative in a way and it takes time to understand,” Sadozai told IANS in an interview at the World Sacred Spirit Festival here.

“For our profession, patience is of prime importance. Learning music and the art takes a long time, but the youngsters today lack patience. These days, youngsters want everything immediately like fast food. It is a problem to tune instruments as it’s so difficult. It has 25 strings,” he added.

Noting that in the current scenario, a lot of artistes in Afghanistan have become refugees, Sadozai said that every thread of culture in Pakistan and Iran has vanished.

“Change is coming in very quickly nowadays. In Afghanistan, in the last 30 years, a lot has been destroyed. Many artistes have become refugees. Every thread of culture in Pakistan and Iran, the knowledge imparted by the gurus and ustaads, is over,” he said.

He feels lucky that when he was learning, it was peaceful in Afghanistan and at “that time, all ustads (gurus) used to live in the same neighborhood so we learnt there.”

With the same pattern in India, the internationally-renowned artist says that since the beginning, “it was difficult to find an ustad because not every one of them accepted disciples.”

“If the student lacked manners and grace, they were not accepted by the ustads but things have changed now. Even the character of people has changed. The spiritual music that we had, slowly turned into showbusiness,” Sadozai said.

With a number of festivals taking place across the globe, Sadozai said that more such need to be organized.

“More and more of these festivals should be organized. The problem in Europe is that it is always in crisis. They have plenty of money, but festivals and culture have been cut off there. There is no money for the arts. We need people to appreciate the arts. But like I said, the generation is changing…” he lamented.

Sadozai has studied the sarod, a descendent of the robab, with Ustad Amjad Ali Khan in India. Amjad Ali Khan’s ancestors had brought the rhubarb from Afghanistan to India and developed the Sarod from it.

Shadows has performed at various international music festivals in Germany, France and the US. In India, he was twice honored with the Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award in 1988 and in 1995. (IANS)

  • Sb.

    It wouldn’t hurt to read your article you wrote it. “brought the rhubarb…”, seriously

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Indian Sufi clerics talk about their time at Pakistan


New Delhi, March 23, 2017: The two clerics of Hazrat Nizzamudin Dargah, Syed Asif Nizami and his nephew Nizam Nizami are reported to have returned to New Delhi.

The two clerics reportedly went missing in Pakistan last week and were alleged to have been working for R&AW and being a part of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) movement by Pakistani newspaper reports in the Urdu Daily.

Upon their return to the national capital the duo went for a seating with Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, the External Affairs Minister. During the entire rendezvous, they allegedly remained tight and shut regarding the entire situation they faced in the neighbouring country.

When asked they confessed to the fact that they were taken to a far quite place with their eyes covered and were offered tea and biscuits along with a hot dose of suspicious questions.

They accepted the fact that they were not forced or violently treated. Despite the whole incident Nizami suggested the media that he will still be visiting Pakistan again as it was a rather refreshing experience.

They also told the media that they went to visit the shrine of Baba Farid Ganj to offer their prayers and were treated and escorted as VIPs. When further questioned the duo refused to go ahead and bend deep into the pool of details.

All they ended up was with a note of thanks to the governments of India and Pakistan for returning them back home.

According to the Times of India, the duo returned back to the national capital on Monday and after landing, the clerics blamed the Pakistani newspaper for the whole chaos.
Nazim Ali rejected the Pakistani media reports by adding that they were in “interior Sindh where there was no communication network“.

Further when they were questioned as to why they were “interrogated“, they stated that they were asked about their visa and other immigration details for some special purposes.
The Duo arrived at the Dargah later in the evening and were warmly welcomed with open arms.

– by Mehak Beibs Walia of NewsGram

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Baloch, Pakistani Sufi singers for Filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s ‘Mirzya’

The internationally celebrated Balochi folk singer Akhtar Chanal Zahri also flew in to pitch in for the title song giving a kind of Epicheft to Gulzar's lyrics

Right Side Filmarker Rekeysh Omprakash Mehra. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

PAKISTAN, Sept 09, 2016: Filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s “Mirzya” is a full-blown musical with composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy pulling out all stops to make the legendary love tale of Mirza and Sahibaan as Epic in proportion as possible.

The title song alone involved the blended talents of sufi singers from India, Pakistan and Balochistan.

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While Daler Mehndi and the upcoming young sufi singers The Nooran Sisters — Jyoti and Sultan from Jalandhar — comprise the Indian contingent of singers for the title track, from Pakistan came the legendary sufi singer Sain Zahoor who sings predominantly at religious shrines.

Pakistan Love for Sufi Singers. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Sufi Singers. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The internationally celebrated Balochi folk singer Akhtar Chanal Zahri also flew in to pitch in for the title song giving a kind of Epic heft to Gulzar’s lyrics.

“Sain Zahoor is an interesting character. His look itself is so amazing. He is so innocent and truly immersed in his own music and world. Until 2006, he never put his voice into a recording studio. The unique thing is, when you teach him the lyrics of the song, he draws pictures instead of writing syllables… Amazing! And that’s how he remembers the words… Truly a delight to work with,” Mahadevan said.

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He is equally amazed by the Baloch singer Akhtar Chanal Zahri.

“Akhtar bhai also is so much fun to work with and had an amazing voice texture… We had to compose the pieces around these two exquisite singers’ voices so that their presence doesn’t look forced into the song,” he said.

Approximately 300 hours of music has been recorded by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy for “Mirzya”. Out of this, a large chunk has been used in the film. (IANS)

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For 35 years, Sindhi volunteers have been serving Iftar to Sunni Muslim Devotees at Wallajah Mosque in Chennai

The volunteers are the followers of the teachings of Dada Ratanchand, a partition refugee who settled in Chennai

The volunteers of The Sufidar Trust getting ready to serve iftaar. Image source:
  • It is a 35-year-old practice where Sindhi volunteers from the Sufidar Trust, gather to serve Iftaar
  • A majority of individuals in the trust are second-generation Partition refugees from Sindh
  • Dada Ratanchand himself worked in a shop at Godown Street before he decided to walk on the path of spirituality

In a country with almost 1.3 billion population and several incidents of communal violence, any tradition vouching for inter-religious harmony takes on a symbolic overtone.

One such tradition is a 35-year-old practice where Sindhi volunteers from the Sufidar Trust, gather to serve Iftar (the meal that ends the daily fast during Ramadan) at the Wallajah mosque.

These volunteers are the followers of the teachings of Dada Ratanchand, a partition refugee who settled in Chennai.

Ratanchand Sahib. Image source:
Ratanchand Sahib. Image source:

The food here is served with an aim to spread the teachings of the Sufi saint Shahenshah Baba Nebhraj Sahib of Rohri, Sind.

Talking about the tradition, Govind Bharwani, who has been a volunteer with the Trust almost since its inception. “We believe all Gods are one, only people have turned it into different sects,” he said to

Bharwani added, “That is what our guruji told us.”

More like a ritual now, the followers of Dada Ratnachand assemble at the temple of the Sufidar Trust to offer prayer, to the Sufi saint Baba Dastageer. The temple is a large room with idols of Hindu gods and goddesses, Jesus Christ, the Sindhi sea god Jhoolailum and pictures of several Sufi saints.

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A majority of individuals in the trust are second-generation Partition refugees from Sindh and serve food to the Sunni Muslim devotees.

Jaikishan Kukreja, a businessman, said that his grandfather had travelled to Chennai during the Partition. He explained that since his brother was already in Chennai at that time, so the entire family settled in Chennai.

Iftaar at a mosque. Image Source:

His father was a hawker on Godown Street in Central Chennai. Kukreja explained, “He used to sell long cloth that used to be brought in from other states,” and added, “that’s how he came up in life.”

Interestingly, Dada Ratanchand himself worked in a shop at Godown Street before he decided to walk on the path of spirituality.

While the Sindhi volunteers have no idea why their teacher chose the 220-year-old mosque, they believe that this tradition inspires them to work together as a community.

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Bharwani said that they call it “seva”. He further said, “Our guruji started this many years ago and we are continuing with it. He began this tradition because he just felt like doing it. Nobody objects to this from the mosque also.”

The Wallajah mosque or the Big Mosque as it is famously known was built in 1795 by Muhammed Ali Wallajah, the eighth Nawab of Arcot in Triplicane. One of the unique features of the mosque is a Persian chronogram composed by Rajah Makkan Lal, the Nawab’s private secretary.

It was about 35 years back that the mosque authorities granted the Sufidar members permission to distribute food at Dada Ratanchandji’s request. Ever since then, the mosque authorities and the Trust members have been working in harmony and mutual understanding.

Suhail Ahmed, a volunteer of the Wallajah mosque, said that in most other places, they don’t allow people from other communities to distribute food. But Ramadan is a special month.

Ahmed added, “Eid is a time when we can all come together,” he said. “That is one reason why we continue this tradition. We look at this as a time for brotherhood and to meet people, be it Hindus, Muslims or anyone.”