Enthralling mystic notes

Enthralling mystic notes

Multicultural Display

Enthralling mystic notes

Bangaloreans were treated to a host of lesser-known music forms at Ruhaniyat, a festival that seeks to showcase different mystic music traditions, which was held recently at Jayamahal Palace. For a City which witnesses its fair share of rock and electronica concerts, these tunes came as a breath of fresh air.

The performers came from different parts of the world — including Bulgaria, Egypt and Pakistan — showcasing the tunes and sounds which are culturally unique to their communities.

Quite a sizeable crowd gathered at the venue before the opening act. The event started off with a lovely performance of Zikr-e-Rifayi, presented by fakirs from Andhra Pradesh. This form of music originates in Baghdad, and is generally associated with the heart of healing.

The fakirs, who were dressed in cream with bright blue and green turbans, began their stint on stage with a number in praise of the rifayi tradition. The only instruments they used were tambourines, but despite this simplicity, they managed to infuse the music with a raw, earthy power.

This was followed by an even more unusual act — polyphony songs from Bulgaria, which were presented by the ‘Vaya Quartet’. In this form of music, the artiste sings in such a way that their voices are projected as sounds; sometimes, these songs are referred to as being sung by the ‘voice of angels’.

The songs they presented came from different regions of their country; while some of them were based on themes of love, others were a bit more interesting. One song, in fact, described wine-making, with a different part of the melody attributed to the different stages of the process. It was a slightly melancholic number, but retained a folksy feel. Their voices were very high-pitched and the entire presentation was quite chaotic — but in a pleasant way. 

The audience were also treated to a performance by a group of singers from Rajasthan, who performed the compositions of Mirabai. One of the particularly poignant songs they sang described the little ways of Lord Krishna that Mirabai took note of, such as his habit of splashing gopikas with water as they passed him.

Tannouras, a folk dance from Egypt, was also a delight to watch — the dancers whirled around on the stage in time to the music. A Sufi Qawwali performance by Fareed Ayaz and his group — from Pakistan — and Parvathy Baul were also part of the line-up.
Girish Vasudevan, a member of the audience, admits that he was pleasantly surprised by the performances.

“It was very nice — I particularly enjoyed the Zikr-e-Rifayi fakirs,” he says, adding, “I like that these acts aren’t restricted to one place but have come from everywhere. I wasn’t expecting such a good show — it’s a pleasant surprise.”