Delhi is celebrating the legacy of its famous court poet Amir Khusrau Dehlavi again. The Archaeological Survey of India, in collaboration with Aga Khan Trust for Culture, is hosting a fine and rare line-up of musicians apart from exhibitions, film screenings and symposiums on the genius of Khusrau. ‘Jashn-e-Khusrau’ is open to the public.
Spread over a month-and-a-half’s time, the events are being held at multiple venues like India Habitat Centre, Amphitheatre at Sundar Nursery (opposite Humayun's tomb), Chausath Khamba, Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti and National Museum auditorium.
A Sufi mystic and a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi, Amir Khusrau was not only a notable poet but also a prolific and influential musician. He wrote poetry primarily in Persian, but also in Hindavi. He compiled the oldest known printed dictionary (Khaliq-e-bari) in 1320 which mainly dealt with Hindvi and Persian words.
Khusrao was associated with royal courts of more than seven rulers of Delhi Sultanate. His collection of poems — Tuhfa-tus-Sighr, which means gift of a child, was compiled between the age of 16 to 19. “The rare qalams, Persian and Hindavi, and some of the ragas that he invented will be part of the musical performances,” says Shakeel Hossain, the curator of the festival.
The festival, which opened with a classical vocal recital by Ustad Nasiruddin Saami, a leading exponent of khayal from the Dilli gharana, is seeing a Khusrau-inspired contemporary fusion by the Pakistani Mekal Hazan Band as the inaugural event of the new Garden Amphitheatre in CPWD Sundar Nursery. Tahira Syed, also from Pakistan, will recite ghazals on February 21 in presence of Salman Khushid, union external affairs minister.
Starting February 22, an exhibit at National Museum will showcase artifacts, paintings and musical instruments associated with Khusrau's legacy.
Also on February 22, a sitar recital by Ustad Shahid Perwez Khan will take place near Khusrau's dargah in Nizamuddin Basti in the forecourts of the 16th century Chausath Khambha. Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan will sing at Chausath Khambha on February 23. The final performance of the festival is on February 24 at Chausath Khambha by Ustad Shujaat Hussain Khan. It will be attended by chief minister Sheila Dikshit.
Starting March 1, an exhibition at National Archives will feature rare manuscripts of Khusrau from its own collection as well from Rampur Raza Library and Khuda Baksh Library. “The exhibition will introduce the contributions of and attributions to Khusrau to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the multi-faceted genius and the continuity of his legacy into the present day,” Shakeel added.