Christopher Holland, a Fulbright Research Scholar,Jamia Millia Islamia (2007)

The city of Delhi has a rich musical tradition dating back to the first inhabitants of this region many centuries ago. Today, with only a small amount of effort, all styles of music can be found in the thriving concert halls and amphitheaters of New Delhi or tucked away in the tiny alleys of old Delhi. But, have Delhiites given thought to what types of musical traditions are in Delhi, and how they exist today?

One type of music style popular today is Sufi Music and Qawwali. Every week a Sufi Music or Qawwali concert can be found in this thriving metropolis. However, do many people know what traditional Qawwali is, or what its rich history is specific to India, and more specifically to Delhi?

What is Qawwali? What is its history and where does it fall in relation to Delhi’s history? Why are Qawwali and Sufi Music seperate categories and what differentiates between them? These questions and more will be answered in the interactive session given by Christopher Holland. Using both audio and visual recordings made in Delhi, and elsewhere in India, Mr. Holland will demonstrate the beautiful tradition of this religious art form, only found in South Asia, and only played by Sufis (members of the mystical branch of Islam).

Qawwali is a religious tool for spiritual advancement used by the Chishti Order of Sufism. The true settings for the Qawwali performance are places Delhiites are more than familiar with, even if only by name, in Sufi dargahs. Just to refresh your memory, some important dargahs in Delhi are that of Hazrat Nizam ud-din Awliya in Nizamuddin Village, Nasir ud-din Chirag i-Delhi in Chirag Village, and Qutb ud-din Sahab in Meharuli behind Qutub Minar.

Christopher Holland comes from Georgia in the United States and is on a Fulbright research grant to India for one year to study the effects of globalization on Qawwali. He lives in Delhi and is working with the Academy of Third World Studies in Jamia Millia Islamia. In order to explain how Qawwali has changed – assuming that it has – he finds it necessary to understand the rich tradition of it in Delhi as well as in other major regions for Sufism in India. Some of these include: Ajmer, Rajasthan; Awadh, Uttar Pradesh; Gulbarga, Karnataka; and Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh.

Christopher Holland
United States Education Foundation in India(USEFI)
12 Hailey Road, New Delhi, 110 001
Mobile: 9871930721
E-mail: indiachris@gmail.com