may 07 programmes

7 pm
Qawwali 'The Mystical Poetry of Sufism by Ustad Meraj Ahmed and Party Organised by The Culture Club, Panchsheel'


Qawwali is a recognized musical genre in the Indian sub continent. It is the devotional assembly of Islamic mysticism or Sufism' in Indian and . It shares general traits with the light classical music of North Indian and but has unique characteristics related to its religious function. For centuries the Sufi communities of the Indian subcontinent have sustained this musical tradition in the mahfil-e-sama, the 'assembly for listening' and it remains the central ritual of Sufism to this day.

Founded by Amir Khusrau, it is a group song performed by qawwals, professional musicians who perform in groups led by one or two solo singers. Qawwals present mystical poetry in Persian, Hindi and Urdu in a fluid style of alternating solo and group passages characterized by repetition and improvisation. Qawwali is performed at the 'dargah' the shrine of a Sufi saint as well as in Sufi mehfils. The structure and order of the songs vary in both these contexts.

Founded by Amir Khusrau, it is a group song performed by qawwals, professional musicians who perform in groups led by one or two solo singers. Qawwals present mystical poetry in Persian, Hindi and Urdu in a fluid style of alternating solo and group passages characterized by repetition and improvisation. Qawwali is performed at the 'dargah' the shrine of a Sufi saint as well as in Sufi mehfils. The structure and order of the songs vary in both these contexts.

Founded by Amir Khusrau, it is a group song performed by qawwals, professional musicians who perform in groups led by one or two solo singers. Qawwals present mystical poetry in Persian, Hindi and Urdu in a fluid style of alternating solo and group passages characterized by repetition and improvisation. Qawwali is performed at the 'dargah' the shrine of a Sufi saint as well as in Sufi mehfils. The structure and order of the songs vary in both these contexts.

Ustad Meraj Ahmed Nizami is the most senior amongst the descendents of Tan Ras Khan the famous 19th c. court singer. He got his education in qawwali singing in the tradition way from his father Piare Khan Sahab. He belongs to hereditary qawwal community affiliated to Hazrat Khwaji Nizamuddin Auliya.

Ustad Meraj Ahmed Nizami is the most senior amongst the descendents of Tan Ras Khan the famous 19 c. court singer. He got his education in qawwali singing in the tradition way from his father Piare Khan Sahab. He belongs to hereditary qawwal community affiliated to Hazrat Khwaji Nizamuddin Auliya.

Ustad Meraj Ahmed Nizami is the most senior amongst the descendents of Tan Ras Khan the famous 19 c. court singer. He got his education in qawwali singing in the tradition way from his father Piare Khan Sahab. He belongs to hereditary qawwal community affiliated to Hazrat Khwaji Nizamuddin Auliya.

This evening Merajji sings and talks about his vast knowledge of over 150 kalaams of Hazrat Amir Khusrau which form the core of Suffiana qawwali  

friday 18th may
6.30 - 8.30 pm 'Open Baithak' 'a literary experiment.

An evening for poet performers from different linguistic, literary and oral traditions, to find and learn from each other. An occasion for new poets to try out their verses and voices. Experiment with words, enjoy them, delight in them and do risky and innovative things with them.

There are only 3 rules

1. 7-8 minutes on the mike.
2. New material at every Open Baithak. You can perform the same material twice, if you wish to try     it in a different way.
3. You can bring poems or prose readings in any language. We would love an active participation by     poet performers in languages other than English.

Earlier this year, the British Council Delhi had organized a Spoken Word Series featuring performances and workshops by UK and Indian poets such as Anjum Hasan, Jeet Thayil, John Hegley, Lemn Sissay, Patience Agbabi and Vivek Narayanan. This culminated in an open mic evening at Sarai, where those of us present felt the necessity for more such spaces, which give an opportunity to poet performers to explore how performance and poetry can be brought together, spaces where words can come alive on the stage through ways and means ranging from music to rhythm to dance and beyond.

The first five sessions of Open Baithak are being sponsored by the British Council Delhi. Come to participate or hear good poetry, watch daring and dazzling performances.

To sign up or for questions email openbaithak@gmail.com or show up at the Open Baithak.

from saturday 19th may to wednesday 23rd may

Buddham Sharanam Gacchami Photo exhibition Images of Buddhism 

saturday 19th may
5.00 pm Inauguration of exhibition followed by Teaching 'The Four Seals of the Buddhist Doctrine' by Chamtrul Rinpoche

According to the Buddhist tradition, all phenomena (dharmas) are marked by four characteristics, sometimes referred to as the Dharma Seals:

Anatta
'This concept is almost the opposite of the Hindu ātman (the unchanging, permanent essence called the soul) The Buddha however emphasized changeability and not permanence. He taught that all concepts of a substantial personal self were incorrect, and formed in the realm of ignorance

Anicca -
All things and experiences are inconstant and impermanent

Dukkha -
Because we fail to truly grasp the first two conditions,  we suffer. We desire lasting satisfaction and   happiness, but look for it amongst constantly changing phenomena.

     Nirvana- is peace

Chamtrul Lobsang Gyatso Rinpoche is a teacher of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. Trained by many High Masters of different Tibetan Buddhist traditions, his main Root Guru was His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche from the Nyingmapa School. Chamtrul Rinpoche has been teaching for more than 16 years to monks and lay people in Tibet, India and many other countries.

Always ready to give Dharma teachings wherever they are needed, Rinpoche dedicates his life to help people find inner peace. Through his invaluable knowledge and practical advice, Rinpoche compassionately guides his students toward ultimate peace and happiness.

In his own words: 'Without discriminating against anybody based on their sex, race, creed and so forth, I wish them to enjoy excellent peace and harmony. I try to the best of my ability to promote the view, meditation and conduct of non-violence, which is the indispensable source for the spread and enhancement of the inner peace of mind.'

Although his main activity is teaching, Rinpoche also supports his monastery in the Golok region (East Tibet) and the nomad population of the area. A variety of humanitarian projects related mainly to health and education are currently being developed in partnership with the non-profit organization (NGO), 'Bodhicitta'.

The Exhibition and sale of Buddhist works of art will support Bodhichita Charitable Trust.

 tuesday 22nd may
 6.30 pm 'Raga Melodies & Chants' on the violin by Sharat Chandra Srivastava
 Tabla: Gyan Singh
 
 
                               Sharat will start the evening with an evening raga and end with chants including Buddham Sharanam Gacchami and Om Tara.
 
Sharat Srivastava is both a Hindustani classical musician and a rock musician. He owes allegiance to the 'Senia Gharana (those drawing their musical lineage either through family or guru-shishya with Tansen) He is a member of All India Radio's National Orchestra as well as the rock group Parikrama for the last 9 years. And has performed across the globe: New Zealand Arts Festival in 2004, The great Arc Festival, the Little Chilli Festival (London),Singapore Arts

Festival, Druga Godba Festival (Slovenia), Edinburgh Fringe  Festival, and the Khajuraho Millennium Festival. Sharat is a visiting professor in the University of Edinburgh andGlasgow, where he teaches Indian Violin. He is also teaching the Violin in Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, New Delhi. 

wednesday 23rd may
6.00 pm 'The Seed Of Bodhichitta' by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche
 
 It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY
 

Bodhi meaning "awake or enlightened" and Chitta meaning "mind" and also "heart" is an essential Buddhist concept, an aspiration to awaken from the dream of ignorance in order to benefit all beings.

Bodhichitta is also equated, in part, with compassion'our ability to feel the pain that we share with others but we continually shield ourselves from it because it scares us. We put up protective walls made of opinions and prejudices. But there is a way out. We need to awaken our Bodhichitta through the practices of meditation, loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. We simply plant this seed in our minds, and slowly let it grow and take root in our lives.This change of understanding has a transforming effect on how we move through each day with self awareness and understanding.

Ringu Tulku Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist Master of the Kagyu Order. He was trained in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism under many great masters such as HH the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa and HH Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche. He took his formal education at Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok and Sampurnananda Sanskrit University, Varanasi, India and has served as Professor of Tibetology in Sikkim for 17 years. His doctoral thesis was on the Ecumenical Movement in Tibet.

Since 1990 he has been traveling and teaching Buddhism and Meditation at more than 50 Universities and Buddhist Centers in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and Asia. He also participates in various interfaith dialogues. He has written several books on Buddhism (including some for children) in Tibetan and some European languages.  He founded Bodhicharya, an international organization that coordinates the worldwide activities to preserve and transmit Buddhist teachings, to promote intercultural dialogues and educational & social projects.

The Exhibition and sale of Buddhist works of art will support Bodhichita Charitable Trust. 

thursday 24th may
7 pm 'Transformations of an Indic Goddess: Durga in India, Java and Bali' an audio visual presentationby Dra. Ni Wayan Pasek Aryati
                                     
The goddess Durga was originally portrayed in India as a beautiful warrior goddess with many arms, each holding a weapon granted to her by one of the other gods during her creation as a special protective figure that would be capable of defending the gods from their mortal enemies. In the Malay-Indonesian archipelago images of Durga as the warrior goddess Durga Mahisasuramardini were important in the Early Mataram Period in Central Java (c. 700-928 CE), and continued to play an important role in the East Javanese period (c. 10th-15th centuries). However, during this same period other images in the visual arts and literature show that the goddess has undergone a radical change from representations that portray her as a beautiful and sensual warrior goddess to those that depict her in demonic form.

Demonic images of Durga became more prominent in Bali, especially in the exorcistic drama Calonarang, where she is identified with her devotee, the terrifying Rangda. There may be many factors to explain the further demonization of images of the goddess in Bali and it is very difficult to understand which is most important. It seems to me that these images are connected to the idea that women are considered dangerous if they are widows, especially if they have no male heir who will can carry on the family rituals after their death. This also means that they are considered the people most likely to practice black magic, and may help to explain why we have inherited images of the goddess in Bali that are more negative than positive. These negative aspects of representations of the goddess have an effect on women, and are also open to political manipulation. It seems that this is what occurred in the case of the women's movement, Gerwani, during the political tragedy of 1965. At that time the women's party was demonized in black propaganda to draw attention away from the real facts of the so-called Communist coup that brought down President Sukarno, the founding father of the Indonesian Republic.
Wayan Aryati will use slides and some video images to try to convey a sense of how Balinese women experience images of the goddess Durga, and to illustrate some facets of her research that deal with historical materials that can be studied at ancient temple sites in East Java like Candi Tigawangi and Candi Sukuh.
Wayan Aryati is Academic Director of the Bali/Indonesia Arts and Culture Program of the School for International Training (Brattleboro, Vermont) and a PhD candidate at Charles Darwin University (Northern Territory, Australia) In this lecture she will focus on her experiences as a Balinese woman who has directly encountered the Indian tradition while living in Rajasthan (2001-2003) and so been inspired to reexamine her own beliefs, especially about the role of the goddess Durga in Balinese religion and society.
 
sunday 27th may
2 to 5 pm 'Caferati - Workshop on Storytelling' conducted by Mahmood Farooqui. Cost Rs 150
 

This workshop will focus on the performance aspect of reading a text. Participants are requested to bring in a book, story, passage, or even poetry of their own choice, preferably their original work, to be read out and performed as part of the workshop

 
Caferati is a forum for writers that started off as the Bombay Writers' Cafe, but quickly outgrew the name as members flocked in from different cities. Most of their membership is in India, but that is not a pre-condition for joining. Their focus, however, is Indians writing in English and today they have presence in 13 Indian cities besides UAE, Pakistan, UK, USA, Kuwait and Singapore. They are mainly an online forum, you can find them at www.caferati.com and http://caferati.blogspot.com. They have monthly sessions called read-meets where they share writings, critiques and provide feedback to each other. 
 
Mahmood Farooqui is a Delhi based writer and actor. He has directed and acted in plays in Delhi, Bombay and Oxford and acted in the English feature film ‘Mango Souffle’. He contributes a weekly column to Mid-day, Mumbai and to a collaborative blog Kafila. He is currently working on his first book on "The Uprising of 1857," to be published by Penguin, India. He is also well known for reviving and popularizing the lost art form of storytelling called Dastangoi.
 

Register and pay: Annie Zaidzaidiannie@gmail.com 

tuesday 29th may to sunday 3rd june
11 am '7 pm Autoportraits' a photographic exhibition.

Photography's power of visual documentation has been used since its invention to create an iconography of the "other".  As part of that project, queer sexualities have been defined, labeled and, eventually, criminalized. However, a parallel hidden history has recorded queer lives, becoming public only when society and the law allows. Photography shows queer people what they look like. Even though the media and entertainment industries have tended to portray queer communities as hysterical victims or monstrous child molesters, we have also become quite expert at presenting ourselves on our own terms even under the pressure of living double lives. Autoportraits is a tribute to this constant subversion and reinvention, featuring photographic portraits by a wide variety of queer women, men, kothis and hijras as a way of reaffirming our actual presence in the world. These photographs are a momento mori, asserting a right and desire to be made visible on our own terms. A unique and not to be missed show!

friday 1st june
The Nigah QueerFest '07: Performance Night

A night of performances, readings, stand up comedy, and dance! Check
www.thequeerfest.com for details.