The first day of the festival kicked off with an opening ceremony that was inaugurated by Begum Zakia Shahnawaz. This was followed by a number of panel discussions and outdoor musical performances. Among the highlights of the day was a play titled The Weaver, which was based on the life of Hazrat Shah Hussain, as well as Firdous-e-Gosh, an enchanting dance performance by Nighat Chaudhry and Wahab Shah. The discussion titled Daur-e-Hazir main Tasawuf ki Ehmiyat was moderated by Dr. Shoaib Ahmed, and the conversation was led by Hasina Moin, the writer of the evergreen drama serials Tanhaiyaan and Dhoop Kinaray. The discussion threw light on Sufi teachings and how they are essential for the prevalence of peace in the increasingly chaotic state of contemporary society.
The evening outdoor performance by Shahid Lohar featured Jugni and a number of other folk songs. The audience comprised people from all age groups. The level of energy exhibited by the crowd throughout the performance was unparalleled. The first day of the festival also featured a play by Azad Theatre, titled ‘Shah Hussain’ or ‘The Weaver’. Hazrat Shah Hussain was a Punjabi Sufi Saint whose shrine is located at Baghanpura in Lahore, adjacent to the Shalimar Gardens. The beginning of the play was quite captivating as it opened with a live musical performance. The instrument players were seated to the right of the stage. Unfortunately, the play timings coincided with the outdoor performances. Since Hall no. 2 and Alhamra’s central lawn are located adjacent to each other, the play was frequently disrupted by claps, cheers and whistles from outside. Moreover, since the play was in Punjabi, a number of people in the audience were unable to understand some of the dialogues. Nonetheless, the actors put up some stellar performances that were a treat to watch. The play was heavily interspersed with soul-stirring Sufi musical and dance performances.
The art exhibition on the first day showcased numerous portraits of whirling dervishes, each of them exuding an aura of wonder and mystery. The first day concluded with Firdous–e-Gosh, Nighat Chaudhry’s terrific dance performance, which kept the audience captivated throughout.
The outdoor performances on the second day also incorporated raqs, literally meaning dance. Mehfil-e-Wajd – a Qawwali performance by the famous Asif Ali Khan Santo Qawwal – was the highlight of the day. Hundreds of Lahoris flocked to Alhamra on Sunday to listen to the gospel Qawwalis of Santo Qawwal. The closing ceremony was followed by another musical performance by Arif Lohar, Krishna Lal Bheel, and Bushra Marvi, accompanied by the whirling dervish dance.
All in all, the Lahore Sufi Festival was quite a commendable effort, put forth for the benefit of the common public. The outdoor performances went on longer than expected, causing some disorder among the audience. Nevertheless, the festival succeeded in magnetizing people from all over the country through the eternal Sufi message of love and peace.
All images have been taken from the 'Lahore Sufi Festival' Facebook page.
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