Guwahati wakes up to Sufi mysticism


Farida Parveen, Gazi Abdul Hakim enthrall city-goers


Two highly popular artistes of Bangladesh performed in Guwahati recently, much to the delight of the music lovers here. At the initiative of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the Directorate of Cultural Affairs, the city got to witness widely recognized Lalon singer Farida Parveen and noted instrumental flautist Gazi Abdul Hakim perform right in their backyard.

The 18th century mystic poet Lalon Shah was influenced by Sufism, a spiritual philosophy. For many years Lalon’s mystic songs have been rendered by singers in metros as well as by the fakhirs in aakhra (Lalon’s followers living in the den). But being a singer alone is not enough for rendering Lalon’s songs. One has to imbibe Lalon’s philosophy and Sufism. Though this does not mean that one has to live like fakhirs at the aakhra, one has to love human beings and other living beings and overcome all kinds of desire.

Maybe that is the reason why Farida Parveen’s name has today become synonymous with Lalon’s songs. While her style is different from that of the fakhirs in the dens, she lays more emphasis on adding a classical aspect to give it a polished form. Having rendered Lalon songs almost throughout the world, she has won many awards including the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize for Best Music 2008 from Japan; Ekushey Padak in1987; and the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer in 1993. She is the founder of “Ochin Pakhi School” which is dedicated to accurate teachings of Lalon Sangeet to children. It is also dedicated to providing teaching in acoustic instrumental music with the traditional flute, saringee and sitar as she believes this to be vital for preserve traditional acoustic music.

She says, “I have respect for those who have made an immense contribution in preserving Lalon songs. However, some of them are not torchbearers of the spirit of Sufism. Some of them have addictions and some are responsible for blending the doctrine of Vaisnavism in Sufism. For instance, the practice of gerua attire and bearing a few musical instruments by the Bauls at the aakhra have come from Vaisnavism. But, a true devotee of Lalon is not supposed to do so. Like my guru Moksed Ali Shah, true Sufists at the aakhra do not use gerua attire. Instead, they wear white.”

Besides Farida Parveen, noted flautist Gazi abdul Hakim also performed on the occasion. An exponent of the bamboo flute, he is the only flutist to have performed at the House of Commons (in 1994). Before him, only Sarod player Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Tabla player Ustad Zakir Hussain had got this rare opportunity. Hakim also played at the Commonwealth Summit in Canberra in 2001.

Gazi has developed a unique style of playing the wind instrument, which gives him a firm niche among the bansi players. He has made a proportionate synthesis of classical, western and traditional folk forms. Talking about his mission to promote the bansi (bamboo flute), he says, “Our bansi is a wonderful wind instrument. Its melody touches the soul of the listeners, which cannot be said of the silver flute. Moreover, only the bansi can play Meer Gamok. And it can be a suitable instrument for any orchestra.”

Having fought in the Bangladeshi liberation war of 1971, Gazi has been working as a staff artiste of Bangladesh Betar since 1974. He has released 12 solo albums till date and all of them have been very well received in Bangladesh as well as abroad.

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Posted on February 13, 2012, in Concerts/ Reviews, Musicians/ Bands and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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