Seeking the Beloved: Festival of Sindhi Sufi Poetry in Bangalore

21 Nov 2010
Sophia High School Auditorium, Near Golf Club, Bangalore

Promotional Video : (

What –
A festival of poetry by 17th century poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai – featuring folk singers from Kutch, poetry readings and evocative story telling of the love legends which feature in the Sufi poetry.

The poet –
Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai (1689-1752) is one of the greatest Sufi poets along with Rumi (1207-1273) and Mir Dard (1721-1785), but relatively speaking lesser known. His poetry draws on the power and beauty of Vedanta and Islam melding the two philosophies into one poetic and spiritual vision. His major work is the “Shah Jo Risalo” and his poems thrive today as a vibrant oral tradition being widely sung, quoted and loved by both Hindu and Muslim communities in the Sindh region on both sides of the Indo-Pak border. He takes the popular love legends of the region and speaks through the voices of different woman protagonists. Sometimes he is Sasui, sometimes Moomal, sometimes Sohini and sometimes Marui… and through their journeys of seeking the Truth he expresses his own. His poetry creates a tantalizing dance of expressions between the sensual yearnings for the earthly Beloved and the deeply meditative yearnings for the transcendent Beloved.

my veins throb
he remains silent

my beloved butcher
soothe me

only you
can pacify my soul


she jumps in

to choose safe waters
is the path of imposters

those who love
take on the mighty river

(translations by Anju Makhija & Hari Dilgir, from “Seeking the Beloved”, Katha, 2005)

Disciples and followers of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai gather from all over the world annually at an Urs at Bhitshah in Sindh, Pakistan, where the poet spent the final years of his life.

The performers –
In the festival on Nov 21st, the poetry of Shah Latif will come alive in two distinct musical genres. One is the Kaafi form of singing prevalent amongst the bhajan singers of the Meghval community of Kutch. This style will come alive in the robust yet lilting voice of Mooralala Marwada, a folk singer from Janan village in the Khadeer region of Kutch.

The second is a deep, meditative musical form known as Waee which is also the name of the style of poetry created by Shah Latif. This style is prevalent across the border between India and Pakistan. The festival will present the last exponents of the Waee form of singing in the Indian Sindh region – Mitha Khan Jat and Sumar Khan from village Bagadia in the Banni region of Kutch.

The poems and love legends –
The music performances would be interspersed by evocative story telling of the folk love legends and poetry readings by Mumbai-based translator & poet Anju Makhija and filmmaker Shabnam Virmani.

Organized by –
The Kabir Project, Sindhi Culture Foundation and National Centre for Biological Sciences.

The Kabir Project is housed at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore and has been engaged for the last 8 years in understanding and sharing contemporary expressions of the 15 century mystic poet Kabir. Currently the project has begun a similar journey of understanding the Sindhi Sufi poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai. The Sindhi Culture Foundation was founded a year ago with the commitment towards researching and creating awareness about Sindhi culture and history.

21 Nov6pm-10pmSophia AuditoriumPoetry reading and storytelling of love legends by Anju Makhija and Shabnam Virmani/Performances by the Waee singers and Mooralala Marwada