The National Geographic Magazine recently ran an article on Festivals of Asia in their November issue – it featured several events from China’s ice and snow festival to the deserts of Abu Dhabi. Also featured by the magazine was the yearly Music Festival held in Gujarat – an event that seeks to increase awareness of two spectacular monuments in the state. The festival is organised by Crraft of Art an organization that is oriented towards helping people reconnect with heritage monuments in their own city.
The Sufi Festival & The Water Festival
The 22nd of November 2013 will see the Sufi Festival at the Sarkhej Roza and the 24th of November 2013 will see the Water Festival at Adalaj ni Vav both close to Ahmedabad.
Festival Day 1 – SUFI FESTIVAL Friday, November 22 Great Tank, Sarkhej Roza
Performing Artists ANWAR KHAN MANGANIYAR, BICKRAM GHOSH, WARSI BROTHERS
Festival Day 2 – WATER FESTIVAL Sunday, November 24 Adalaj-ni-Vav, Adalaj
Performing Artists GANESH & KUMARESH, RAKESH CHAURASIA, ABHIJIT POHANKAR
The Roza and the Vav
Both the monuments – Sarkhej Roza and the Adalaj Vav are beautiful examples of architecture and are also the personifications of the history and the bygone era of the region.
The Sarkhej Roza is a mosque situated at the village of Makarba close to Ahmedabad. The mosque has been a focal point for Sufism and it was here that Sufi Saint Ganj Baksh lived (at whose suggestion the city of Ahmedabad was set up on the banks of the Sabarmati by Sultan Ahmed Shah). Built around the middle of the 15th century, the mosque features Hindu as well as Islamic architectural styles. The Indo-Saracenic structure was likened to Athens’ Acropolis by architect Le Corbusier.
Adalaj Ni Vav (The Adalaj Stepwell) is another Indo-Islamic architectural marvel that consists of five stories that are built down into the earth rather than up from the ground level. Said to have been built for Queen Rani Roopba, the widow of Veer Singh (the Vaghela chieftain) by Mohammed Begda, this vav (or baoli in North Indian parlance) has been of great importance for collecting rain water in the semi arid region of Gujarat.
A Unique Amalgam of Music and Architectural Legacies
Crraft of Art is an initiative that seeks to bring about awareness about two precious aspects of our heritage – our ancient architecture and its history as well as and our rich, complex and many faceted musical traditions. While the name Sarkhej is famous to most people as a suburb of Ahmedabad, few have actually visited the spectacular mosque and its adjoining dry tank. Though Adalaj ni Vav is well known by comparison, perhaps not as many know of and visit the structure as should be the case. As an initiative to increase awareness of these twin heritages of architecture and music, the Crraft of Art Festival is a welcome attempt. Initiated 4 years ago, this is the fourth edition of the Festival.
The founder of Crraft of Art is Birwa Qureshi, who is also the wife of Tabla Maestro Ustad Fazal Qureshi, the son of Ustad Allarakha and brother of Ustad Zakir Hussain. Herself a dancer trained in the classical and folk traditions and married into such an illustrious musical family, Birwa has a keen appreciation of these heritages and her initiative is helping increase awareness. Festivals such as these also create opportunities for visitors to catch a glimpse of Indian culture at several levels.
Why Our Heritage is So Precious
While festivals at the more established historical structures of India such as Konark or Khajuraho have been around for a long time, our lesser known architectural marvels languish in anonymity. The fact is that we don’t value our historical structures. Take the example of Delhi for instance – you cannot throw a stone in that city without it hitting a structure of historical or architectural significance. The city’s many layered history means that it is literally littered with these edifices and ruins – few if any seem to know their significance and even fewer seem to value this rich heritage of ours.
This callous disregard is in such sharp contrast to many other countries that not only know about and value their heritage but also ensure that a tourist has a wonderful time visiting and knowing about that site. The Water Festival and the Sufi Festivals are initiatives in the right direction – they need applause and support and we need that more such festivals help increase our knowledge and appreciation of our very own heritage.
To know more about the Sufi Festival and the Water Festival, visit the Crraft of Art Facebook Page
By Reena Daruwalla
Images from Wikipedia and from the Crraft of Art Facebook Page