Kanhaiya, yaad hai kuch bhi hamari (Kanhaiya, do you remember me at all?). As strains of this bhajan resonated along with thumping qawwali claps inside India Islamic Cultural Centre, blaming Lord Krishna for his absence as a lover, Pakistani qawwals Fareed Ayaz and Abu Mohammad tried to give out a message of a secular world Saturday.
“Artistes only want affection from their audience and that’s one thing which is in abundance in India. I have noticed in the past few days that some political forces are hindering the presence of art. They can keep doing what they are doing. We will keep doing our work, which is making music,” said Ayaz.
The artistes gave Delhi a sneak peek into what to expect at arguably the first international qawwali festival in India, scheduled to be held in Delhi in February 2016. Qawwals from around the world have been invited to participate in the festival titled ‘Tali De’ being organised by Delhi-based Krishna Prerna Trust.
Ayaz and Mohammad’s performance and the announcement for the festival comes close on the heels of cancellation of concerts by Pakistani ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali following protests by Shiv Sena. Sufi rock band Mekaal Hassan’s gigs in Mumbai and Ahmedabad were also cancelled, while Pakistani singer Javed Bashir’s concert in Delhi was held under tight security.
“Some people wait for me here with a lot of love, and I consider it my duty to come for that,” said Ayaz, who belongs to the famed Bachchon Ka Gharana that traces its lineage back to Amir Khusrau.
The duo’s popular outing at Coke Studio Pakistan has given them a fan following across the border.