A night of Qawwali with Farid Ayaz group
KARACHI: The scent of rose petals was wafting out of the Napa auditorium past midnight where the stage was set for a night of qawwali performance by Fariduddin Ayaz, Abu Muhammad and group on Saturday.
The National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) renowned in the city for its plays is also gradually becoming well-known for its music shows. A tradition which Napa began last year of qawwali followed by a sumptuous Sahri during Ramazan and having received positive feedback, Napa decided to continue with it this year as well.
Last year the qawwali performances were also by the same group, however this year Napa students also made their debut as qawwals. This is an interesting development since the students have no familial affiliation with the tightly-knit communities of qawwals. Whether these students will be accepted by them is something only time will tell.
As is the custom, the qawwali performance began with a Hamd, a musical composition in praise of God, ‘Teray hi naam se har ibtida hai, teray hi naam tak har inteha hai’ by vocalists Nadir Abbas and Ahsan Shabbir who sat on a long takht decorated with rose petals and marigold flowers along with a portrait of the dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya serving as a backdrop of sorts.
They were accompanied by Napa teachers Idrees sahib on harmonium and Shahid on dholak, students Waqas and Saghar on tabla, and others who did the clapping and singing. Overall it was a good effort by the students and teachers.
Sitar player and Napa faculty member Nafees Ahmed while introducing the main performers of the night addressed Farid Ayaz as Farid Ayaz bhai and he did so because, “Farid bhai used to play the sitar and I have heard him play the instrument”.
Farid Ayaz, who is well versed in many languages, began by uttering a Quranic verse in Arabic relating to fasting followed by its Urdu translation. The 15-member group that included two toddlers began with ‘Padharo Maro Des’. “There are three generations on stage right now,” said Farid Ayaz, who is not only wonderful to hear but is also delightful to watch.
Miming some of the phrases from various kalaam especially from classical Persian verses, addressing a member of the audience who seems to understand the kalaam more, gesturing someone to put paan in his mouth and teaching a child how to clap correctly were some of his enjoyable gestures.
His brother Abu Muhammad, too, was gesticulating but he was more of an orchestra leader who would direct the group when their clapping would become less intense or direct their attention to chant a particular verse.
The blending of Hindavi, Arabic, Urdu and Persian verses is what makes aqawwali so unique which Farid Ayaz, Abu Muhammad and group did when they sang ‘Meray banay ki baat na poocho’ beginning with Ghalib’s famous couplet ‘Zikr us parivash ka aur phir bayan apna’ with great vocal dexterity — Abu Muhammad’s husky bass voice provides an interesting contrast to Farid Ayaz’s paan-laced high-toned voice — and displaying their knowledge of classical Hindustani music.
In this particular performance, the dholak nawaz too showcased his virtuosity when towards the end he played a fast and rigorous piece that sounded like thunder on a stormy night.
‘Man Kuntu Maula’, tribute to Hazrat Ali, energised the audience garnering their appreciation in the form of numerous nazrana that were offered to the group. Perhaps it was the tarz (composition) or the kalaam or their mental state or a combination of all these that made the listeners ecstatic.
Next they sang Amir Khusro’s Persian kalaam: ‘Namidanam che manzil bud shab jaye ke man budam’ (I know not in what wonders and state I found myself last night). Farid Ayaz said that this was actually a ghazal and not a Naat as is popularly thought to be.
‘Teray ishq nachaya karke thaiyya thaiyya’ by Bulleh Shah and Amir Khusro’s ‘Surat ki balhari Nijam, tori surat ki balhari’ (I am sold on the way you look Nizam, I am sold on your beautiful face Nizam) were also beautifully rendered.
The soul-stirring night ended with the customary ‘Aaj rang hai ree maa rang hai ree’ that was written by Amir Khusro as a final farewell to his sheikh, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia.
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