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Music from the valley of Hunza

July 23, 2018

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KARACHI: The Second Floor hosted a Sufi music night to a packed audience on Saturday. Bazm-i-Liqa is a group of artists from Hunza, Gilgit and Skardu which focus on promoting a Sufi music tradition.

According to the group’s official description, “Deriving their inspiration from the universal humanistic teachings of Allama Nasiruddin Nasir Hunzai, the Bazm-i-Liqa group of artists combines the poetry of Sufi masters of Central and South Asia, such as Mawlana Rumi, Amir Khusrow, Nasir Khusrow and Allama Nasiruddin Nasir Hunzai through the powerful medium of traditional music, performed on the rubab and duff. In their gathering, the combination of mystical poems in Urdu, Burushaski and Persian languages are recited in sequence with zikr to enhance the feelings of humility, ecstasy and unity.”

The performance at T2F was from its Karachi chapter.

The chairperson of Bazm-i-Liqa introduced the performers as students from Gilgit-Baltistan currently enrolled in universities in Karachi. “They [Bazm-i-Liqa] are also a Sufi order,” she said. “The tradition of performing music has been in their families for the past 30-40 years. Their parents have been using music to provide spiritual solace.” She explained the group uses music to promote love and peace. The primary instruments used are the duff and the rubab.

One of the performers, Bisma, opened the evening by singing a poem by Rumi in Persian. A few numbers in Brushaski were performed as a well as some in Urdu by Misbah and Attaullah. The booming sound of the duff that they were playing complemented the delicate plucking of the rubab perfectly.

The evening was punctuated by a small talk by Dr Rubina Baloria, who is currently an assistant director at the Agha Khan University School of Nursing. A graduate of the university of Alberta, she spoke about how, during her time there, there was research being conducted on terminal patients on how music therapy helped in their treatment. She mentioned how, in the study, brain cells responded positively to the music that the patients were exposed to. And certain types of music can be very soothing and therapeutic. And that is what the Bazm-i-Liqa group aims to do in its performances for its audiences.

The last song performed was a poem in Brushaski. It was a kind of prayer for the peace and prosperity for the country. By the time the evening ended, there was hardly any standing space in the venue. The opportunity to be exposed to a culture and music from a completely different part of the country was too good an opportunity to pass.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2018