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The old strains of Sufi

Jun 2, 2012, DHNS:

Authentic Touch

The resonance of Sufi music filled the auditorium of Bangalore International Centre as Smita Bellur, the classical singer, presented some authentic Sufi songs recently.

Right note: Smita Bellur She started the show with the rendition of the song Allah in raag Purya Dhanashree in Vilambhit Ek Taal. The song was sung in praise of Allah.

“I made an initiative to present the old form of qawalli for the Bangalore audience.


Not many know that Sufi renditions are sung in a chronological order and in a khayal format.

It was Amir Khusro who popularised it. Later, it was changed by indulgent kings,” informs Smita.

The Sufi renditions are generally sung in a particular order.

It begins by praising Allah and Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, Prophet Mohammad, Khwaja Nizammuddin Aulia and others. Smita sang a couple of popular qawallis like Chaap tilak kar dini, which is a hymn praising Khwaja Nizammuddin Aulia and Bullah ki jana main kaun.

“For Bullah ki jana main kaun, I sang the version sung by Wadali Brothers as it is closer to the original.

Qawalli is basically singing for divine love. And when artistes perform in a dargah, they usually stick to the original format. For instance, I sang a quitta, which is a special type of song sung to praise Prophet Mohammad.

I chose raag Purvi as quals (those who sing qawalli) say that if you sing anything in raag Purvi all your wishes come true,” she added.

She also informed the audience before commencing each song about qawalli and what it entails.

“A qawalli generally includes a Khayal, Hamd, Nath, Rang, Tarana, Sawan, Trivat and many other concepts. Ghazal, like a qawalli, also includes all this and is sung in praise of Allah and for divine love,” she explained.

She concluded the evening with one of the most popular Sufi songs O lal meri pat rakhiyo jhule lalan.

While most of the audience had come in expecting fast Sufi numbers, some were glad that they heard some authentic songs.

“Sufi singing has become so commercialised that the authentic style has got lost somewhere. This is one of the rare performances where we had the opportunity to hear the old style,” said Vivekananda T, a member of the audience.

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