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Kabir in the time of conflict

Sunday, Nov 6, 2016,15:28 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | At a time when India is battling a “climate of intolerance”, artistes here feel it is today that 15th-century mystic saint and poet Kabir’s couplets find more relevance than ever.
Delhi-based singer, writer and social activist, Vidya Shah who is in town to perform at the ongoing Kabir Festival here, said the multi-dimensional verses by the poet, despite being penned at a different time, must be understood “with the same truth as he said them.”

“In today’s world when there is polarisation and conflict, the relevance of Kabir is much more. We need to understand his dohas with the same truth as he said them,” she said.
She sang Kabir’s “Maan Lago Mero Yaar Fakiri Mein” complemented by the rhythms of tabla, harmonium and sarangi.

For the audience’s understanding, she preceeded each of her performances with a short and simplified introduction of the dohas.
The three-day festival that celebrates the life and works of the weaver poet, saw performances by several stalwarts of Hindustani Classical music including renowned vocalists Devashish Dey and Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, Pandit Rajan and Sajan Mishra from the Benaras Gharana among others.

Folk singer from Bikaner, Mir Mukhtihyar Ali presented sufiyana kaalams based on the poetries of Kabir, Punjabi philosopher Bulle Shah and Sufi poet Amir Khusro.
With taans from myriad of instruments including pakhwaj, tabla, harmonium and tanpura, the compositions were a treat to the ears.

Sitar-player and musician Azeem Ahmed Alvi performed alongside Danish Ali Khan on violin and Hafeez Ahmed on tabla, to cull out contemporary renditions of ‘Viashnav Jana To’, one of the most popular Hindu bhajans from the 15th century.

According to the organisers who have attempted to encapsulate Kabir’s idea of inclusiveness and diversity through the festival, the poet’s teachings were indeed a way of life, that continues to resonate even with the current generation.

“Everything thing we talk about – from the dignity of an individual to our primary core values – is synonymous and comes naturally through the teachings of Kabir,” Jai Shah, Head of Cultural outreach of Mahindra group, said.

The festival that began on November 4 comes to a close today.

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