A Cultural Journal

    T2F Rejuvenates Karachi with Ramzan Qawwali Series

    Written by: Mohammad Usman Mirza - Posted on: July 09, 2015 | Post your comment here Comments | 中文 (Chinese)

    Google Translation: اُردو | 中文

    Ramzan Qawwali Series at T2F Karachi

    Qawwali performance at T2F

    The Qawwali is a musical tradition that goes back more than 700 years. Initially performed at the shrines of Sufi saints, it has gathered tremendous mainstream popularity in the last fifty to hundred years, becoming an integral part of Pakistani culture. The ‘Ramzan Qavvaali Series’ organized by The Second Floor (T2F) in Karachi aims to celebrate this long-standing tradition. T2F is a community space for open dialogue, featuring a coffeehouse, bookshop, and exhibition gallery. It provides our youth with a platform for social change through rich cultural activities, public discourse, and activism using the new media.

    On June 27th, 2015, I had the pleasure of attending a performance of the Ramzan Qawwali series. This event featured two brothers, Taj and Shaad Mohammad Niazi, in a traditional Qawwali setting. Both qawwals are sons of the late, critically acclaimed Moin Niazi, who was a recipient of the Pride of Performance award. Taj and Shaad hail from the Atrauli Gharana, and are amongst the finest modern-day practitioners of the kalaam of Hazrat Amir Khusrau. Their group has garnered popularity by performing widely across the subcontinent, from Pakpattan all the way to Dhaka.

    The event started at 10 pm, and continued till well after midnight. The beauty of the Qawwali is that it attracts people from all backgrounds. The diverse range of enthusiasts present at T2F for this event showed that Sufi music has no age boundaries. People well in their 70s were joined by young teenagers. Mothers had come with their families, and working men had come to take respite from their hectic routines. In a busy city like Karachi, T2F is playing the role of a place where one goes to relax and put one’s mind to ease. The event was a breath of fresh air for the city’s residents. The troupe captivated the crowd and sang some beautiful Qawwalis, even dedicating one to Sabeen Mahmud, the late founder of T2F. All of this was made possible at a modest fee of Rs. 300 (the money collected is usually invested in the renovation and upgradation of T2F’s various offerings, such as their book collection).

    A glimpse of the performance by Taj and Shaad Mohammad Niazi

    Speaking to some individuals present at the event, I found out their motivation for coming there, and what they thought of T2F and the event. Saad Ahmad, a recent graduate from McGill University, Canada, who had recently come home after graduating, was full of praise. “It’s a great thing, what T2F is doing. In Karachi, you don’t find places where people can just sit down and talk about books or culture. You just have restaurants and dhabas, and I’ve grown tired of that. I wanted something fresh, and this Qawwali night has just done that. Brilliant music played today, especially the way the Niazi brothers demonstrated control over their voices.”

    Osama Hassan, a young man working at Coca-Cola, Karachi said, “After a hard day’s work, I want to be able to attend such events, which enrich a man’s experience and make him better intellectually. Sadly, Karachi doesn’t have many places that one can visit or similar events that one can enjoy. I’m a regular here at T2F, and they’ve had some very enriching events.”

    T2F is a great place for young minds to become culturally aware. It offers a wide range of events for everyone who wishes to be a part of the T2F family. The ‘Ramzan Qavvaali Series’ will be ongoing for the entire month of Ramzan. Those interested should definitely pay a visit after checking the various events currently being offered by T2F. As for me, I will be sure to attend such enriching events in the future.

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