Last week, I had the chance to visit the Nizamuddin Dargah — the holy shrine of one of the world’s most renowned Sufi saints Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia in New Delhi.
Hundreds of devotees from all across the country come here to visit it daily. However, on Thursdays, there is an unusually higher rush, for the dargah is famous for following its 7-century long qawwali tradition. People from all walks of life come here to listen to soul-stirring Sufi music.
I have been a huge qawwali fan, I follow Sufi music from all across the globe… and when it comes to my favourite, there is none other than Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Sahab whom I listen regularly.
While following him, I also learned about different Gharans of Sufi in both India and Pakistan. Being a Punjabi, I love Punjabi qawwalis and find a different solace in this genre. The music somehow reliefs my body from all mental pain.
Coming back to the dargah where I went to listen to live qawwali on the 21st death anniversary of Khan Sahab, I was expecting a different environment altogether.
To my surprise, I couldn’t find anyone performing qawwali there and I was disappointed. However, I got the chance to interact with the qawwals — who were from the family of ‘Nizami Brother’ — the group has a 700 years old rich legacy of mesmerising people through their qawwali.
While interacting with them, I learnt that the qawwali tradition has been discontinued from January 2018 on Thursday evenings. The timings have been changed actually. Instead of the peak time of 7 PM, the qawwali is performed at 11 PM now.
Many people came there to attend the qawwali and everyone was wondering when it will start. While I interacted with the qawwals, I talked to them about their history… about their legacy and different Gharanas in India and Pakistan.
Suddenly, I found that they started giving me a little extra attention, for I knew a little about their rich history. They asked what I else I know about qawwalis. I told them how their group’s name is similar to famous Warsi Brothers of Hyderabad and Sabri Brothers of Pakistan — who also perform qawwalis just like them.
One of the guys was having Paan and I told him how he looked like the famous Pakistani Singer and Qawwal Abu Muhammad. And he was impressed… he said that Abu Muhammad is his relative and called him chacha jaan (Uncle).
They never asked my name, all they were saying was bhaijaan (brother) what else have you read. Soon, I realised that the more I was talking about them, the more they eagerly they listened and responded compared to many other people who interacted with them. They asked me to sit comfortably as it is ‘Allah ka Ghar’ (home of Allah).
As I realised that qawwali will not start before 11 PM, I knew that it was time for me to leave. While I walked past them, one of the Qawwals said, ‘yaar bhut padta hai ye’ (he reads a lot). Trust me that made my day. Not because he made my day by complementing my habit, but because he talked about me.
I was thoroughly impressed and learned this special art of interacting that people love listening about themselves. That they will treat you especially when you talk to people about them.