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I'm participating in the Platform Building Campaign. If you're a fellow campaigner stopping by, make sure to leave me a comment if you follow me so that I can find you. Sometimes there's not a link in your profile on the GFC so I don't have a way to figure out where you came from. I'm looking forward to meeting everyone and to reading your posts!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q (awwali) & Q (asida)

If this is your first time going across the pond, then you can read the trip guidelines here. If you don't want to take the trip then you can have some biscuits and wait in the Q with the Sabzi Wala. 

Because of the A-Z Challenge I hadn't really done an "official" Across the Pond post although a few of my posts could qualify as such. I thought with Q I would take you across the pond and introduce you to a type of  popular mainstream/traditional music. I had never heard of "qawwalis" before I came overseas. They are very popular amongst the locals here. Wherever there is a celebration, there will be qawwalis regardless if it's a wedding, a religious holiday, birth of a child, buying a new home, etc. Whatever the occasion, qawwalis will be the music of choice. One thing I found interesting while looking up facts about qawwalis to share with you is that most sites translate the word "qawwali" as "Islamic song".  In Islam, all forms of singing and music even if it is about the religion or religious personalities are forbidden and against the teachings of the religion. Therefore, there can be no such thing as an "Islamic" song which is interesting because the majority of qawwalis are about Islam and/or Islamic personalities. 

Qawwali refers to a type of "devotional music". It is popular throughout Southeast Asia particularly in Pakistan. Its origins date back more than 700 years and can be traced back to Persia (today's Iran and Afghanistan). For the most part qawwalis are written in Urdu and Punjabi although there are some that are in Persian and Siraiki. The sounds of the regional and more traditional qawwalis vary greatly from the more mainstream ones as in the second video I have listed above.

Qawwalis were made popular due to the work of the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (first video). Most qawwalis are between 15-30 mins long. However Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan does have two qawwalis which are over 60 mins long each. The longest commercially released qawwali was just slightly over 115 mins long (Hashr Ke Roz Yeh Poochhunga by Aziz Mian Qawwal). Traditional qawwalis are usually accompanied by the tabla, dholak, and clapping. In more mainstream modern qawwalis, these instruments are used as well as harmoniums, sarangis, and rababs. Even the audience is considered as a participant in the "singing" of the qawwali.




When a "qawwali" is recited without music/instruments and/or singing, it is known as a Qasiday. Qasidas are allowed according to the teachings of Islam. There is no real translation for the word qasida, or qawwali for that matter. Since qawwalis are forbidden according to Islam, many substitute qasidas in the place of qawwalis in their celebrations. Punjabi qasida groups consist of 3-5 recitors. One being the "lead" and the others being the "bazoo" (arms) or back up to the main/lead recitor. As with qawwalis, the audience is encouraged to paticipate in the qasida.

While only some qawwalis are about religion/religious personalities, it can only be considered a qasida if it is about a religious personality in Islam particularly the Prophet (saw) and His Progeny (asws). Qawwalis are only for joyous celebrations. Qasidas are recited in both times of joy and extreme grief and sorrow such as the qasida below which is about the slaughtering of the Grandson (asws) of the Prophet (saw).

I hope you enjoyed today's trip and will join me again whenever I take you for a walk "Across the Pond". 


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