A musical group based in Lahore, Pakistan, comprising a woman and her three daughters has paid a special tribute to the first Sikh master, Guru Nanak Dev, on the occasion of his 550th birth anniversary by singing his composition ‘Aarti’.
Bina Jawwad, a well known classical dancer, and her daughters – Zainub, Saleema and Ismet – who form the group ‘Harsakhiyan’ have sung this composition in a special project, which a little help from two Indian poets, Madan Gopal and Amarjit Chandan,
The rendition, uploaded on their Facebook page and YouTube channel, which goes by the common name, Harsakhiyan, has been a big hit among the Sikhs who are visiting Pakistan from abroad in connection with the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak.
Speaking to The Indian Express from Lahore on phone, Bina Jawwad said that she and her daughters had been singing Gurbani for many years now. “It was a suggestion from Madan sahib and Amarijit sahib that something special must be done on occasion of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary. Both have been to Lahore and are known to us. We thought that this would be a befitting tribute since the ‘Aarti’ is a ode to the cosmos. Guru Nanak was a great poet as well as a religious figure for Sikhs and he belongs to all,” said Bina.
The original composition of the ‘Aarti’ is in Raag Dhanashree while the one rendered by the group is in Raag Durga, informed Bina. “My eldest daughter, Zainub, who already has a repertoire of Gurbani she has sung, composed this new tune in Raag Durga,” she said.
Bina has been teaching Kathak in Lahore for nearly four decades now and says that the conducive atmosphere at home while growing up helped her in picking up classical dancing and singing. “My father was an engineer. He himself used to play harmonium and my mother used to sing while cooking so it was a very congenial atmosphere for me,” she said.
When asked if the group had ever faced any opposition from fundamentalist elements in Pakistan, Bina and Zainub said that they had never come across any opposition. “We have deliberately now made our endeavours commercial and in all the programmes, which we have presented, there was only one instance in which any person spoke up against us,” Bina said.
The group has been to India to perform and took part in a Spic Macay event at IIT Guwahati some years back. “We have not been brought up in a very strict religious manner or told that this is wrong and that is right. Which is why all us sisters have had the freedom to pursue classical singing,” said Zainub.
With the ‘Aarti’ getting noticed on social media platforms, the group is now being approached by various international Sikh organisations who want to make documentaries on them.
“For us it is all about the ‘Haqeeqi’ love, which can bring you closer to the almighty. That is the way of the truth. Getting to know the inner self through music. We hope that the relations between the two countries get better and we are able to reach out to the larger audience in India,” says Zainub.