Friday 30 October 2015

Foot-tapping Fusion Drums Music from Ghana, Africa

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Indo Africa Cultural Confluence which has coincided with the Indo-African Summit currently being held in Delhi. 

Fusion Drums music performance from Ghana

The event was organised by the Delhi International Arts Festival at Nehru Park in Delhi. There were performances of whirling dervish of Egypt, dance & music of Ethiopia & fusion drums of Ghana. Besides this the Indian band Delhi Inde Project also known as Dilli Wala Band also rendered some rock Sufi music.

The drum performances by the Ghana team was superb. Listen and see the small video of their performance here-

A short video of Fusion Drums music from Ghana

More such performances should be held so that we can listen and see the music and culture of the world.

Also read:
Sufiana Music by Bandanawazi Qawwals
European Day of Languages - Enthralling Performance
Wise Guys and the Maharaj Trio for the Butterflies

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Places to visit in Mumbai: Elephanta Caves - a World Heritage Site

Elephanta Caves, located on the Elephanta Island can be reached by a ferry from the Gateway of India, Bombay. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Trimurti, Elephanta Caves

Distance from Bombay: 10 km
Duration of Ferry: one hour, first ferry at 9 a.m.
Price: Rs 160 to-and-fro (as of October 2015)
Monday closed
Ticket: Rs 10 for the village and Rs 10 for the caves. Foreigners have to pay Rs 250.

Elephanta hills and the Arabian Sea

Then there is a toy train for a km or less and then a steep ascent of about 120 steps. October is not the best month for this excursion. You need stamina and lots of water intake. Those with knee problems should stay away. There are lots of shops selling all kinds of stuff but the most sought ones are food stalls selling raw mangoes, starfruit (amrack) and lemon water. Many of them are run by women.

The entrance to the Elephanta cave 1

These rock-cut temple caves dated between 5 and 7 Century CE comprise of five Hindu caves dedicated to Lord Shiva and two Buddhist caves at a distance of about 2 km. 

Grand pillars at Elephanta cave 1

The latter are closed to public and amongst the five Hindu caves only the first cave is worth the trouble. The other caves are almost empty except for the presence of a shivling. In that sense there is a slight sense of disappointment. 

Gangadhara Shiva & Parvati

However Cave 1 is a magnificent structure. It is a grand cave with huge pillars and huge sculptures, many of them fragments. The fragments speak for the glorious art in ancient India. Most of the panels depict Lord Shiva and Parvati. Then there is a huge Trimurti (first photo in this post) sculpture depicting the three faces of Shiva: the creator, the preserver and the destroyer. It is said that the Portuguese colonisers destroyed many of these grand narratives, including the elephant structure that gave the island its name.

Shiva as Yogisvara

Visitors who came 10-15 years ago say the caves were dirty and stinking. The last time I visited the caves was in 1985 of which I have only some hazy memories. But now that they are managed by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), they are clean and there are guards to prevent vandalising. There are toilet facilities. Monkeys are however a nuisance.

Also read:
Karla Buddhist Caves near Pune
Places to visit in Mumbai: The Haji Ali Dargah

Friday 23 October 2015

Sufiana Music by Bandanawazi Qawwals

I spent an enjoyable evening listening to the Qawalis & Sufiana Music by Bandanawazi Qawwals from Hyderabad. The event was organised at the Epicentre in Gurgaon as part of the Delhi International Arts Festival 2015.

The Bandanawazi Qawwals rendering Sufi music

One of the living descendants of this famous band of people is Ateeq Hussein Khan Bandanawazi. Born in 1980 in Hyderabad to a family of classical Sufiana qawwals, he belongs to the Rampur Sahaswan Gharana of musicians. Besides learning Qawwali from his father Ustad Iqbal Hussein Khan Bandanawazi from a very early age, he also picked up various forms of classical music like Dhrupad, Khayal, Thumri, Dadra, Tarana and Bhajan.

The evening started with the soulful song Kahe ko Byahi Bidesh – by Amit Khusrau – the best known Sufi poet that Delhi has produced. He lived from 1253 to 1325 CE and was the best known disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi. Indians may have heard this song umpteen times as it is played at almost all weddings at the time of departure of the bride from her parents house.

They mesmerised the audience with the rendition of Chaap Tilak Sab Cheeni – again by Amir Khusrau

This was followed by Bhar Do Jholi Meri –popularised more recently by the film Bajrangi Bhijaan. Do hear the clipping given below.

Bhar Do Jholi Meri sung by Bandanawazi Qawwals

Last, but not the least, was the ever popular song Dumdum Mast Kalandar. I have heard Runa Laila, Abida Parveen, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Sabri Brothers and others rendition of this song earlier.

Dumdum Mast Kalandar sung by Bandanawazi Qawwals

The evening was supposed to have commenced with of Qawalis & Sufiana Music by Ayaz Nizami Qawwals from Pakistan. But because of the recent happenings in Bombay & Delhi we were deprived of listening to them. At least the Bandanawazi Qawwals did not disappoint! They got a standing ovation by an appreciative audience. The auditorium was full on Dussehra/Durga Puja holiday.

Also read:
Sufi Music by Sabri Brothers
Sufi Dervish Dance