The harmonies of the instruments and claps of the proud presenters of Qawalli on the stage of Lucknow Literature Festival 2016, compelled me to open to the echoes of wisdom. I had lost my conscience to the roots of my own existence. There was something ironic in the goosebumps I felt sitting there in the mainstream audience. The truth revealed itself in appreciable span of time. This ecstatic Qawalli performance was slowly and steadily losing its glory under the oblivion’s curse.
“You are a sufi when your heart is as soft and as warm as wool.”
The aura was so surreal that it promenaded along my horizon for many mornings that followed. Their priceless efforts to keep this art form, inherited from the world of yesterday, alive were raising a tempest of thoughts in my mind. The twenty-four hours in an artist’s life and that too in a city of civilized culture must be so tough!
Warsi Brothers, residents of Balaganj (Lucknow) uphold the pride of keeping this art form alive since generations. The tradition dates back more than 700 years ago, when Qawalli were performed at Sufi shrines and dargahs. It was believed that Qawalli resulted in fulfilment of wishes. It was inspiring to find that all the members performing, belonged to the same family and shared the same concern for the vanishing Qawalli. The only places where relics of Qawalli exist are Ajmer Sharif, Haji Waris Ali Shah, Nizamuddin Aulia, Shahmina Shah and Deva Sharif. Under such circumstances, these people are making persistent efforts to keep this traditional art form alive, while somehow managing their livelihood.
“Bhar do jholi meri ya Muhammad (pbuh), dar se tere na jaunga khali”
Sufism is the religion of heart and the city of Lucknow has a heart. I feel, each one of us who hails from this city, has a heart for Qawalli. Let us lend our hands to shelter this art form from Oblivion’s Curse.