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Free shows from India’s Qawwali group

THE Shahid Niazi and Party Qawwali Group of India is giving free performances from today to Sunday at venues in central and south. The eight-member band will be performing popular numbers from Bollywood and Sufi Qawwali.

The songs which constitute the Qawwali repertoire are primarily in Urdu, Hindi, Bengali and Punjabi.

The band is led by Ustad Shahid Niyazi who is the main lead singer; Sami Niyazi is second main lead singer, main harmonium player and manager; Majid Niyazi does main chorus; Mukarram Niyazi — khanjiri player and chorus; Hamid Niyazi — tali player and chorus, Ustad Raees Niyazi is main tabla player, Shahnawaz Niyazi — octopad player and Zubair Niyazi – dholak player.

Qawwali was created in the 13th century through the fusing of Indian, Persian, Turkish and Arabic musical traditions by Delhi’s Sufi saint Amir Khusro Dehlavi of Chisti order of Sufis, said a media release.

There are some in Persian from the Mughal era, and a smattering in Saraiki and dialects of north India like Brajbhasha and Awadhi. The poetry is implicitly understood to be spiritual in its meaning, even though the lyrics can sometimes be wildly secular or outright hedonistic. The central themes of Qawwali are love, devotion and longing of man for the divine. The formal name used for a session Qawwali is Mehfil -e-Sama.

A group of Qawwali musicians is called a party and in Urdu is called humnava and typically consists of eight or nine men.

The performers sit cross-legged on the ground in two rows — the lead singer, side singer and harmonium players in the front row and the chorus and percussionist in the back row. Qawwali achieved a recent wave of popularity through the use in Hindi films. However, the rich, sensual and spiritual words are often twisted in the context of the earthier, romantic cinema, the release said.

The Shahid Niazi and Party Qawwali group is being hosted by the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Co-operation and the High Commission of India, in collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts.

The group’s visit is sponsored by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), Government of India.

Three local organisations — the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Preysal; Easwaramma Sathya Sai Centre, Penal and the National Council for Indian Culture (NCIC), Divali Nagar, Chaguanas, are partnering with Gandhi Institute in this venture.

The group will perform today at the Couva/Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce, Camden Road, Couva; tomorrow at Easwaramma Sathya Sai Centre, Clarke Road, Penal; and on Monday at the Divali Nagar site in Chaguanas.

All performances begin at 6.30 pm.

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