The sixth editions of the World Sufi Spirit Festival (WSSF), featuring a string of local, national and international artists have kickstarted with a lot of pomp at the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur.
Hosted by the royal family of Jodhpur, the fest started Friday at the Mehrangarh Fort. It will culminate Feb 27 at Ahichhatragarh Fort in Nagaur.
The festival has a mix of music traditions from various parts of the world. Performers from Egypt, Turkey, France, Pakistan, Mongolia and Afghanistan are here to showcase their talent. From India, musicians from Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are participating in the fest.
Situated 400 metres above Jodhpur, the venue is a fitting host to music lovers from in and around the country. From locals to foreigners to members of the royal family, everyone was seen enjoying the music at the opening day.
Festival director Alexandra de Cadaval says it is just for the second time that the festival is being held at Jodhpur, but it has already gained popularity.
"We have been very nicely surprised since it is our second edition here in Mehrangarh. We are happy to see that it has already picked up in the second season. It is a very positive beginning for the festival," Cadaval told IANS.
Talking about the variety of music on offer, she said: "It is not just Sufi music here at the festival. There are other forms of music too. We are a Sufi festival, but basically we are focusing on everything that is very much to do with heritage and traditions, that have disappeared, and to promote artists that are not so mainstream."
The opening of the festival Friday saw performances from Harjiram and Okaram Meghwal & Group, Bardic Divas with Ulzan Baibussynova, Raushan Orazbaeva and Nadira Pirmatova, some enthusiastic qwwalli performances by Raza Khan, Chishtiya Group and Irfan Toufail Brothers, The Nile Sufi and others.
But the day saw an exceptional turnout at singer Rabbi Shergill's performance. He sang Bollywood chartbusters like "Challa", "Bulla ki jaana mai kaun", "Tere bin", "Jugni" as well as numbers from his private albums.
He loved the experience.
"I am mesmerized by the beauty of the Mehrangarh Fort. It is a perfect backdrop to a musical festival. According to me, Sufi is not restricted to a religion.
"It is a reflection and this inner reflection is nothing but connecting with one's soul. When someone puts this to the forefront, I think it should only be applauded whole-heartedly," said Rabbi.