Women performing their evening chores in the colony of qawwals. Photo: Janu Narayan
“I used to sing before marriage. Now I have lost that dedication and discipline,” rues Nagma Khatoon. Nagma, a resident of the colony of qawwals on Delhi’s Panchkuian road is not a lone case. The colony comprises of an extended family of singers and music practitioners. The residents have been in the at for five generations now and some have even earned international repute as qawwals (a genre of music) or as playback singers in the film industry.
However, the participation of women in this family profession remains prohibited.
The women of the qawwal colony are as talented as their male folk. Although gifted by the same Muse of Music they are not allowed to showcase their art.
In a rare instance, Firoza Begum of the qawwal colony singes’t in full throated ease.
This short motion graphics shows the origin and evolution of qawwali:
Our reporter Surya talks to a budding singer from the colony of qawwals. We bring you the unedited and candid conversation between the two.
The young singer talks about his passion for music, his likes and dislikes and about the basti where he grew up.
Shehzad Jani, the main tabla player of the Sufi Musical Group (the musical troupe of the colony) brings alive the sound of a moving train through the beats of Tabla.
Reporter’s Zainab Sayeed, Asma Rafat, Janu Narayan, and Surya Pillai sharing their experiences about their multimedia project ‘Qawwalon ki Basti: the colony of qawwals’. The project include videos, audio slide shows, photo gallery and rich media blog.
Shakeel Ahmed a Banjo player from Qawwalon ki Basti plays few melody for us. Banjo, a musical instrument played as a precursor to songs is known as Prelude.
Shakeel who has been living in the Colony since a decade has performed in Dubai and United States.
Qawwali is an Islamic form of praise for Allah and his prophet rendered through music. The tradition dates back to the 12th century and is predominant in India and Pakistan. One such colony of qawwals reside in Panchkuian road of New delhi. Lets take a glimpse of their lives and rediscover the qawwali tradition.