Kafi, a distinctive genre of Sindhi poetry in the past, finds its enthusiasts petering out day by day much to the chagrin of its bastion. Superseded by modern forms of singing and music, kafi writers have vanished as dramatically as its listeners. “While we were documenting Sughars (traditional Sindhi folk narratives) around Sindh, we found that the art of writing and singing kafi is becoming extinct,” said Dr Fehmida Hussain, chairperson of the Sindhi Language Authority (SLA).
In the rural areas and towns of Sindh, the Sufi music tradition is a common cultural and social feature associated with the shrines of folk poets and saints. At every dargah or shrine, the Sufi fakirs (singers) are likely to be seen performing the rhythmic and enthralling mystical poetry of poets such as Sachal Sarmast, Mehdi Saen, Gamdil Fakir, Bedil Fakir, Rakhiyal Shah, Budhal Fakir, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Bulleh Shah, Janan Fakir Chann, etc. Significantly, many shrines of the popular Sufi poets have a formal and institutionalised tradition of raagis (singers) who are associated with and perform only for the given shrine. Well-known examples are the Bhitai ja Fakirs of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and the Daraazi Fakirs of Sachal Sarmast.
Read More: Daraazi Fakirs of Sachal Sarmast
I am waiting to meet Abida Parveen. More than 100 interviews in my portfolio as a journalist, and I am as nervous as a rookie as I sit in the ‘Abida Parveen Gallery’ in F-10, Islamabad, waiting to be taken to her adjoining house. I am nervous because of the power of this performer and of the words that seem to speak themselves through her.
Read More: Abida Parveen