Hyderabad: In his late 50s, Saber Ahmed Khan sings qawwalis, a Sufi form of music, at Dargah Yousufain at Nampally in the centre of the city. Saber is a third generation qawwal and visits shrines across the city to sing devotional songs.
“As we are artistes, we cannot offer money at the shrines, so we go there and sing qawwali in praise of the saint. In return, some people give us nazrana (gift),” he says. Saber is one of many qawwals who visit the Dargah Yousufain also known as the Nampally dargah on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
“There is a huge flow of visitors and we get between Rs 400 and Rs 600 in each sitting. It all depends on the mood of the visitors,” says Qadir Ayazzi, who also regularly performs at the dargah. The management of several shrines in the city such as the Baba Sharfuddin at Pahadishareef, Hazrat Jahangir Peera at Kothur near Shadnagar, and a few others, allow qawwals to sing on the premises.
Ayazzi says that they were also invited to small gatherings and religious events in neighbourhood. “But, it has come down. Now recorded music is played at functions,” he explained. The only good days for this tribe are the annual Urs celebrations when there is a huge rush and people, including the managements of the dargahs, pay them liberally.
Will his children follow in his footsteps and carry on the tradition? “It is up to them if they want to learn it as a hobby. But it is a strict ‘no’ if they want to become professionals, as we are struggling for a living,” Ayazzi replied. Syed Kamal Warsi is a familiar figure along with his three sons at the city shrines. But he too prefers his children explore other career options.
“My elder son works at a cloth store and accompanies me only on Sundays for programmes. The others attend school every day,” Warsi says, and adds that the future for singers like him is bleak. “They are allowed into various shrines as this form of sufi music is associated with the dargahs and even qawwals from other states come and perform,” said Syed Hussain Shabbir Hussaini, former caretaker, Dargah Yousufain.