Celebrating life and Sufi music

Debarati Palit
Friday, 16 June 2017

Singer-composer Kavita Seth talks about Anandotsav, spiritualism and why she doesn’t mind Bollywood commercialising Sufi music

Anandotsav has become a part of my life,” says renowned Sufi singer Kavita Seth who is back with the sixth season of the festival. The one-day Sufi festival will be held at Nehru Centre Auditorium, Mumbai, today (June 17).

Kavita, who has given her voice to memorable tracks like Prem Mein Tohre (Begum Jaan), Aisi Hoti Hai Maa (Maatr), Iktara (Wake up Sid), Tum Hi Ho Bandhu (Cocktail) among others, kickstarted the festival as a celebration of life, dedicated to her mentor, friend and husband the late K K Seth, on his birth anniversary.

So how different will the festival be this year? “Every year we get something new on Meera and Kabir’s poetries. It will cover Sargun Bhakti and Nirgun Bhakti; Sufi music is a merger of these two. I consider Meera and Kabir as Sufi. We will read stories and have discussions over the subject. I am sure people will love this,” she says while promoting the festival.

She says that the festival has changed over the years. “The approach and the thought have changed. The first year it had an emotional connect, but I have changed the mood of the festival and made it into a celebration of life. Music is a great medium to celebrate life. It’s become my duty to organise the festival because as an individual we take so much from society. But through the festival, I am giving back to it,” says Kavita who has tied up with Dharma Bharati Mission in aid of a Hunger Free India. “Whatever funds we get from the festival will be donated for the cause. We don’t want to be self-centered and concentrate on ourselves only. We want to give something to those in need,” she says.

She further says that since March, she starts planning for the festival. “I want to reach more people and therefore keep planning about it,” she says.

Every year, Anandotsav is held on June 10 (birth anniversary of her husband), but this year they couldn’t find a good auditorium, so Kavita moved it to June 17. “In fact, my kids and I thought on that day that we were missing something big in life.”

Sufi music has got a niche audience because not everyone can understand the genre. Are they making the festival simple so that it reaches a larger audience? “We brief people before rhyming the poetries. But music is such that you automatically connect with it. Coming to the festival, people just follow the happiness trail,” she says.

Delving into her religious beliefs, she says, “It’s one god. I believe in idol worship. As I have grown, I have realised that the body is god, Ram, Krishna; call it any name you want. You have to connect with that energy. I think it’s the power that makes you do things. In some people the energy level is very high; people become different things through their energies.”

Kavita calls herself a spiritual person and says that she is still in search of herself. “Getting attached to oneself is spiritualism and all questions will be answered once you find yourself,” she elaborates.

Speaking of Bollywood, where Kavita has made her mark, she says, “Sufi music got publicity because of Bollywood. Otherwise the reach would have been limited. The film industry has given a commercial angle to Sufi music and I don’t mind that till the time they have kept the spirit and purity of the genre intact.” The singer will soon release her album based on the poetries of veteran writer and poet Amrita Pritam.

Catch the festival at Nehru Centre Auditorium, Worli, Mumbai today from 7.30 pm onwards

Follow the writer on Twitter @DebaratiPalitSi

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