Stirring Mosay Naina Milai Kay Qawwali at AAA Gathering in Washington
By Zafar Iqbal, PhD
Chhap tilak sab cheeni ray mosay naina milai kay is a famous line of a qawwali, composed seven centuries ago by Hazrat Amir Khusrau, which has been enthralling audiences for hundreds of years in the Subcontinent. Making their debut, as qawwal in the Washington area, Sunny Diwan and party staged an excellent performance by singing it and other famous qawwalis. In the elegant setting of the Community Center, with the magnificent Turkish mosque in the backdrop, they entertained the audience for nearly five hours. The enthusiasm and appreciation of the audience often found expression in individuals showering the artists with money, reenacting an old South-Asian tradition. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the evening and actively participated by clapping all the way through the performances. The fancy auditorium, with excellent acoustics, next to a mosque, all added to the pleasure of the audience and added to the delightful ambiance of the evening.
A cold, drizzly evening and overall inclement weather did not discourage more than 150 lovers of qawwali to come out and attend the Mehfil-e-Sama, organized by the Aligarh Alumni Association, Washington DC (AAA), on Saturday, October 3, 2015, at the glittering Turkish Community Center auditorium at Lanham, Maryland. Attendees included members of diverse Indo-Pak cultural and literary organizations like the University of Karachi Alumni Association, Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, Hindi Association of Washington, and the American Muslim Institution, and others.
Welcoming the artists and audience, President Farzana Farooqi briefly appraised the gathering about the activities of the Association. She informed that the Association has been in the forefront of organizing high-quality literary and cultural activities for the last 40+ years. It was this Association, which started the tradition of international mushaira in North America. “Famous lyricist-poet Javed Akhtar and other poets from India, Pakistan and other countries will share their poetry in this year’s mushaira scheduled on 7 th November,” she added.
Introducing the artists the coordinator of the program, Masood Farshori, said that qawwali was a special form of musical performance to praise revered aulia (saints) for their good work. He said that the Sunny Diwan orchestra had established reputation as ghazal and light music singers, but qawwali was a venture into a new territory for them. The main artist, Sunny Diwan, was accompanied by Aqeel Bhatti (tabla), Naeem Peter (second tabla), Sheldon John (harmonium and background singer), and Patrick Bashir (keyboard and background singer).
The event concluded with brief remarks by the Secretary-General, Mohammad Akbar, who thanked the audience, the artists, and volunteers for great success of the program.