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     Evening Performances
     6:30 to 9:00 pm at Siri Fort Main Auditorium

monday 23rd february at 6.30 pm

Readings from the Koran by Prof. Farhana Siddiqui (10 minutes)

The Quran, the last revealed word of God, is the prime source of every Muslim’s faith and practice. It deals with all the subjects, which concern us as human beings; that is wisdom, doctrine, worship and law, but its basic theme is the relationship between God and his creatures. At the same time, it provides guidelines for a just society, proper human conduct and an equitable economic system.

The Quran is a book of God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It did not come to him in the form of a complete book, but in parts over a period of 23 years. The first part was revealed in 610 A.D, when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was in Makkah. Subsequently, different parts continued to be revealed regularly, the final part being revealed in 632 A.D, when the Prophet was in Medinah.

The aim of the Quran is to initiate and bring to realization and intellectual revolution within man. The Quran stresses the importance of man’s discovery of truth at the level of realization. True faith in God is what one achieves at such a level. Where there is no realization, there is no faith.

The main themes of the Quran are enlightenment, closeness to God, peace and spirituality. The Quran uses several terms, “Tawassum”, “Tadabbur” and “Tafakkkur” , which indicate the learning of lesson through reflection, thinking and contemplation on the signs of God scattered across the world. Quran is definitely not a weapon, but a book, which gives us an introduction to the divine ideology of peaceful struggle. The method of such a struggle, according to the Quran is to speak to them a word to reach their very soul. Peace is one of the pre requisites of Islam. Similarly, a Hadith states, “A Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands people are safe.” One of the attributes of God described in the Quran is ‘As-salam’ which means peace and security. That is to say that God’s Being itself is a manifestation of peace. Indeed God is peace. In the Quran, divine guidance is linked to the path of peace.

The Quran avers that, “reconciliation is best” and judging by the consequences the way of peace is far better than that of confrontation. By the law of nature, God has decreed that success will be met with only on a reconciliatory path and not on a confrontational or a violent course of action.
The Quran offers a very sophisticated view of peace in many verses it promises the believer peace as a final reward for a righteous life. It also describes the house of Islam as the abode of peace. At the behest of the Quran, Muslims greet each other every time they meet, by wishing peace for each other.

Doctor Farhana Siddiqui is Head of Department Arabic, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She has been teaching Arabic for almost three decades. 

Professor Siddiqui obtained her Ph. D in Modern Arabic literature from Jamia Millia Islamia and has written many books and articles on Arab women. She delivered lectures in and outside India and highlighted the women’s contribution to the most important areas of Arabic language and literature and their activities in the literary field.  


Dancing to the Gods
Sankirtan & Raaslila by artistes of
Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy


The Meitei culture of Manipur is an unusually rich microcosm of art forms found in larger cultures. Meiteis have their own language and cosmology and produce a range of artistic expressions in dance, music, theater, literature, film, video and television, little known even in India. It exhibits the strong tribal roots of the surrounding Naga and Mizo tribes, as well as the blend of Indian and Southeast Asian cultural influences.

When the Meiteis converted to the bhakti sect of Vaishnavite Hinduism in the 18th century, it did not replace but began to co-exist with the animist, ancestor-worshipping religion of the Meities.

Manipuri Dance, though Manipuri Dances would be more accurate, is the best-known art form of the Meiteis in Manipur. Recognized as one of the four classical dances of India,  it is derived from four major sources: Jagoi, Thang-ta, Lai Haraoba and Sankirtan. Jagoi is folk community dance, whether celebrating the harvest or spring. Thang-ta, literally sword and spear, is one of five Meitei martial art forms. The Lai Haraoba, when women shamans dance the universe into being, is the most important and defining performance rituals of the Meiteis. It celebrates the cosmology, creation and history of the shamanistic, ancestor-worshipping animism of pre-Hindu Manipur. Sankirtan, the flower of Manipuri Dance, with its most celebrated form, the Ras Lila, is the music and dance of that emerged after the arrival of Vaishnavism. ( from L.Somi Roy).

The Sankirtan tradition rests thematically upon the Krishna legend. Its performance is considered the highest form of worship and is even performed at weddings where its sanctity  makes it a substitute for the sacrificial fire. There is a Sankirtan before every Raas Lila After the customary opening rituals, the drummers begin a performance by elaborating a Raga, followed by the singers and the conch player. The familiar stories of Krishna are retold followed by the divine dance with Radha and the Gopis.

With its elaborate costumes and haunting music this enactment is a feast for eyes and ears. The true sentiment of the Raas can only be experienced by performers and audience with an active participation and understanding of this form. A sense of timelessness is created with the smooth flow of movements, resulting in the fluidity and continuity of body line The style is tender, restrained  and all movements are circular  and flow from one rounded movement to another forming spiral combinations.( from Leela Samson)

Nata Sankirtana
L. Lakpati Singh
M. Rajmohan Singh

T. Bedajit Singh
L. Somorendro Singh
L. Sobha Singh
Y.Sanathoi Singh
Bubhaneshwar Singh
Manao Singh

Costumes :        Smt H. Sharmila Devi
Choreography:    Guru P. Dhanajit Singh
Office in Charge : Shri L Upendro Sharma 


Vasant Raas
 Saina Devi
Radha      Romila Devi
 Ranjita Devi
 Geetanjali Devi
              Rojita Devi
              Bidyalakshmi Devi 
              Piyini Devi
              Pinkee Devi

Rasdhar    Shri Ng. Ranjit Singh Guru
Sutradhari Smt A. Apabi Devi
Shri Kh. Rameshkumar Singh
Flute        Shri P. Meghachandra Singh


For more information on the event read Places of Worship (tuesday 17th february 6.30 pm  • Sankirtan &  Raaslila  at the Birla Mandir


monday 23rd february at 8:00 pm

Djandjoba – The Big Gathering

the Dafra Drum a West African Drum & Dance Ensemble

Olivier Tarpaga - Composer & Choreographer, DjembÈ, Tama, Calabash
Wilfried Souly - Lead Dundun, Dundun (Kenkeni, Sangban, Dundumba), Calabash, Tama
Dramane KonÈ – Balafon, DjembÈ, Ngoni, Tama
Aboubacar KouyatÈ - Griot DjembÈ, Tama, Calabash
Esther Baker-Tarpaga , Dancer, DjitafiÈ, Maracas
Magatte Sow- Griot, DjembÈ, Tama, Sabar

This evenings performance is a Djandjoba, The Big Gathering, a 10th century tradition from the Manding Empire of Mali in which a Griot leads traditional ceremonies such as coronations, coming of age, weddings and baptisms. Dafra Drum brings this high energy Griot tradition to the Sacred Arts Festival in Delhi. The Djandjoba takes us on a tour of the Manding Empire starting in Senegal with an introduction of 5 Tama/Talking Drummers and a Sabar dance demonstration. The Ensemble then moves on to Mali for an introduction to the Djelidon (rhythm and dance of the Griot/Jeli) and the Wassolon Don. The tour is completed with the master drummers demonstrating the tradition of the Sorsorne, the Diansa, the rhythm of the Fula people from the Sahel desert and the dundun Ba.

The group consists of 3 master drummers from Burkina Faso, one master drummer from Senegal, one master drummer from Guinea and a traditional dancer from the US-Burkina Faso.

A Djembe ( Jembay) is a skin covered, goblet shaped, hand drum traditionally carved in one single piece from hollowed out hardwood trees. The tradition of Djembe sacred drumming is common to many West African countries including Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. Historically, drumming has accompanied various modes of communication, including singing, dancing, story telling and also to send and receive spiritual messages, in healing ceremonies, rites of passage, ancestral worship, warrior rituals, as well as social dances.

A wide range of tones can be produced by the djembe as a result of the goblet shape, the density of the wood, the internal carvings, the metal rings and ropes and the rawhide skin. .The base notes are normally played on another drum the ‘dun dun’.

The djembe is said to contain three spirits: the spirit of the tree, the spirit of the animal of which the drum head is made, and the spirit of the instrument maker. It is legend that the djembe and/or the tree from which it is created was a gift from a Djinn or malevolent demigod. It is central to the musical heritage of the Malinke and Sousou tribes of Guinea in West Africa. Its legacy has been preserved throughout the centuries in the praises, lamentations and narrations of a special breed of musicians called "Griot." Travelling the countryside accompanying themselves on the sacred "cora," a harp like stringed instrument, they give voice to the cultural wisdoms and historical truths of the descendants of Sundiata, the great warrior of the Mali Empire.

A Griot ( Jeli in Many African languages) is a West African poet, praise singer and wandering musician considered a repository of oral tradition. Each family of griots accompanied a family of warrior-kings (jatigi).Most villages also had their own griot, who told tales of births, deaths, marriages, battles, hunts, affairs, and hundreds of other folktales. In Mande society the ‘Jeli’ was a historian, advisor, arbitrator, praise singer and storyteller. Essentially, these musicians were walking history books, preserving their ancient stories and traditions through song. Their inherited spiritual, social, political and musical traditions were passed down through generations.

Welcome to this feast of percussion.