Places of Worship
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saturday 13 february 12 to 2 pm  Food Meditation 5 - A talk by Dr. Bharat Gupt followed by lunch
                                                             organized by Anam at The Attic

tuesday 16th   february 6.30 pm 'The Order of Myths' a documentary film on secret mystic societies
                                                             and Mardi Gras With a short musical introduction by Peter
                                                              Eisenhauer, Raymond Thibideaux, Diane Brandtat The Attic

thursday 18th   february 6.30 pm   " Sattriya's Journey from Sattra to Stage" a talk by Arshiya Sethi at
                                                                The Attic

saturday 20th  february  2 to 6 pm  Sacred Sites Walk No 1 organized by Robinson

saturday 20th  february 6.30 pm Sattriya dance  at Birla Mandir, Mandir Marg

thursday 25th   february  2 to 6 pm  Sacred Sites Walk No 2  organized by Robinson

thursday 25th february 6.30 pm      Persian Qawwali’ a recital in the qawwali style of the Persian
                                                                Poetry  of Mirza Abdul Qadir “Bedil” by Chand Nizami and group at
                                                                Bagh e Bedil, opp Matka Peer, Mathura Road

tuesday 2nd march 6.30 pm       Tibetan Sacred Music: Nawang Khechog & Chukie Kelsang  at Vishwa
                                                           Shanti Stupa

wednesday 3rd march 6.30 pm  "The quieter we are, the closer we get..." harmonic chant by
                                                             David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir at Sacred Heart Cathedral

thursday 11th march 6.30 pm     'Powar dochak' a Buzhen Sword Dance by the lamas of the Buzhen
                                                            Nyingma-Pa sect at India International Centre Fountain Lawn


Places of Worship Series


saturday 13 february
12 to 2 pm Food Meditation 5 - A talk by Dr. Bharat Gupt followed by lunch organized by Anam at The Attic

'Saparyaa paryaayah bhavatu yan me vilasitam' (let each motion of mine be an act of worship), says the Saundrya Lahiri a tantric text written in praise of Devi. This feeling is shared by nearly all systems in India that advocate devotion or bhakti or dedication of the mind to an higher consciousness.

The ways of bhakti or surrendering to Divine are not one but many and
each of them has its own specific method of establishing a relationship
of the individual consciousness to the Supreme Reality. The sensory
experience has to be made a part of the larger experience.

Of the five senses, taste is cultivated culturally to provide pleasure or rasa beyond satiation of hunger. in Tasting of partaking rasa has also been a metaphor for aesthetic pleasure in all arts. But as eating and tasting is a major sensory indulgence it needs to be directed to a higher aim with spiritual effort and training.

The talk shall take the various methods that are used in the Indian practices such as Vedic sacrifice, offerings to the deity, vipaasana, vaishvanara dhyana, langara, bhandaaraa and others.

The food that will be served is sourced from a village in the Garhwal Himalaya where the villagers still practice traditional techniques of farming. No chemical pesticides or fertilizers are used and crops are grown from seed saved from the previous year’s harvest. These villagers have been an active part of the Beej Bachao Andolan, (Save the Seeds Movement)

Anam leads the food meditation session. He is a disciple of Osho and a founder member of the Gurdjieff Foundation of India. He has led 4 successful sessions earlier at The Attic and has organized this special event for The International Festival of Sacred Arts which is taking place during the months of February and March 2010. He is also organizing the Lunches for this festival at the IGNCA from 5th to 9th March.

The food will be brought from the surplus harvest from the village. It will be eaten in total silence, with awareness and without distractions.

Bharat Gupt, an Associate Professor in English at the College of Vocational Studies of the University of Delhi, is a classicist, theatre theorist, sitar and surbahar player, musicologist, cultural analyst, and newspaper columnist. He is trained in both, Western and traditional Indian educational systems. He was awarded the McLuhan Fellowship by University of Toronto, and the Senior Onasis Fellowship to research in Greece on classical Greek theatre. He has lectured extensively at Universities in India, North America, Europe, and Greece. He was a Visiting Professor to Greece and member of jury of the Onasis award for drama. He serves on the Visiting Faculty at the National School of Drama, Delhi, and as resource scholar at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and several other major centres and academies of the arts. His published books include: Dramatic Concepts Greek and Indian (1994), Natyasastra, Chapter 28: Ancient Scales of Indian Music (1996), Twelve Greek Poems into Hindi (2001), India: A Cultural Decline or Revival?(2008).

Participation is by registration on payment only. Telephone The Attic 23746050 or email Charges Rs 100 paid in advance only

Only 30 participants and no walk-ins for lunch. All are welcome to the lecture

tuesday 16th   february 6.30 pm
'The Order of Myths' a documentary film on secret mystic societies and Mardi Gras With a short musical introduction by Peter Eisenhauer, Raymond Thibideaux, Diane Brandt at The Attic
in collaboration with The American Centre with a short musical  Mardi Gras introduction.

Director:  Deborah Brown (77 mins, 2008, Winner of Cinematic Vision Award at Silverdocs, Nominated for Grand Jury Prize at Sundance)

Synopsis: Traces the exotic world of secret mystic societies  and centuries old pageantry of Mardi Gras as celebrated in Mobile, Alabama where it remains a segregated event. Against the opulent background, the film uncovers a tangled web of historical violence and power dynamics, elusive forces that keep this hallowed tradition along enduring colour lines.


thursday 18th   february 6.30 pm  
" Sattriya's Journey from Sattra to Stage" a talk by Arshiya Sethi at The Attic

Sattriya dance, from the eastern state of Assam in India is located in a matrix of an intense system of belief. It is drawn from a five hundred year old dance and comprehensive theater tradition nurtured in the Vaishnav Monasteries of Assam. Preserved by the monks, most of them celibate, the dance form of Sattriya, has been extracted, like many of the other Classical Dance forms of India, from a mother theatrical tradition. In the year 2000, it was declared a “major dance tradition of India” at par with the others loosely called the Classical dances of India. This action introduced into the pantheon of the classical dances of India, a rare aesthetic and spiritual gem, but raised a deep problematic that has many aspects to it. It raises several questions of motivation, cultural property and management, appropriation and future of the style. This talk will firstly demystify its background, contextual crucible and its aesthetics. The second part will touch upon some political issues and explain how the form has been impacted.

A practitioner and scholar of Indian dance for over twenty years, Arshiya Sethi has long been concerned with the dynamics surrounding traditional dance and dancers working during times of social transformation. Issues of preservation, presentation, and the progression of art forms have been the subjects of her research and very active public career. Arshiya Sethi has been the Executive Director of the Delhi International Arts Festival that includes performing arts, visual arts and film, since its inception in 2007. Before that she served as the Creative Head of Programmes of the India Habitat Center and has also worked with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

She is one of the foremost contemporary scholars of Sattriya and has been the dance critic for the Times of India for several years. For nearly three decades she has hosted and narrated a program on national television showing archival value recordings of the greatest Indian dance and musical performers. Ms. Sethi has been a Fulbright Fellow in 2003-2004, attached with New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.



saturday 20th  february 6.30 pm  
Sattriya dance  at Birla Mandir

In the year 2000 the 8th Indian classical dance form was ‘officially’ recognized by the government of India. Sattriya was ‘created’ by the Assamese Vaishnav saint Srimanta Sankardeva in the 15th century. It was born and grew within the rigid disciplines and austerities of the ‘Sattras’ (monasteries) and was performed by male monks as part of their daily rituals or to mark special festivals. From about the middle of the 19th century women and male stage performers were also allowed to perform.

Originally the themes of Sattriya Nritya were mythological or as accompaniments to one act plays (Ankiya Naat). Like the other seven classical dances the principles required of the form are already encompassed within Sattriya. Nrrta (pure dance), Nritya (expressive dance), Natya (dramatic elements) and a distinct repertoire (marg) already formed part of this style. The dance is accompanied by musical compositions (borgeet) based on the classical ragas of Indian music. The instruments that accompany a traditional performance are khols (drums) taals (cymbals) and the flute. The violin and the harmonium are recent additions.

The dresses worn by the dancers are usually made of an Assamese silk (pat) hand woven into intricate local motifs. This evenings Sattriya dance programme consists of

1. Gayan Bayan - The Bayan consists of about a dozen male 'khol' (drums) players and the Gayan (male singers) set the devotional atmosphere of the Ankia Nat performance. These monks have preserved the Sattriya heritage of music, dance and drame over several hundreds of years living in the largest fresh water island in the world on the Brahamaputra River.
Sattriya Dance - Guru Vandana, Jhumura dance, Krishna Vandana, Chali dance, Bargeet and Raas Nritya.

Dancers: Guru and choreographer Indira P.P. Bora, Snigdha Kangkan Taid, Riju Pathak, Sushmita Gautam and Reema Bora from Kalabhumi Guwahati.
Shri Nityananda Deka(vocal), Sri Jogen Basumatari(flute), Sri Pabitra Bhagawati (khol) from   Sattriya Kendra Guwahati
Monks for 'Gayan Bayan' from Bhogpur Sattra of Majuli Island.

This event is supported by Sangeet Natak Akademi



thursday 25th february 6.30pm ’Persian Qawwali’ a recital in the qawwali style of the Persian Poetry of Mirza Abdul Qadir “Bedil” by Chand Nizami and group at Bagh e Bedil

Selection of text by Dr Akhlaque Ahmad ‘Aahan’, translations in English by Dr Aahan and Sohail Hashmi

Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil

From the late 13th century, with the great Sufi poet Yamin-ud-Din Khusrau Persian began to replace Turkic. And by the middle of the 16th century became the first language of the Mughal court and the educated elite. The next century saw the rise of some of the finest writers of Persian verse that the sub continent had seen, the tallest among them undoubtedly was Bedil.
Mirza Abdul Qadir “Bedil” (1644-1720) was the unquestioned king of Sabk-e-Hindi (The Indian style of writing Persian). Bedil's impact on Rekhta was acknowledged by the great poets who came into prominence during the next two centuries, inluding Ghalib and Iqbal and both tried to follow his footsteps.
Bedil, Ghalib and the great Master Amir Khusrau, (credited with developing the Qawwali ) continue to be rated highly in Persian speaking areas, specially Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Bedil’s father and uncles were officers in the Mughal Army and suffered the consequences of siding with prince Shuja against Aurangzeb after the death of Shahjahan. Bedil’s family was uprooted and he was to eventually settle down in Delhi where he died at age 74, far away from his birth place Patna
Through his uncle Bedil had come in touch with prominent Sufis of the times and lived like one himself. Despite a large body of followers from among the courtiers and the elite of Delhi he kept his distance from the Mughal Court.

He wrote more than a 100,000 couplets including Ghazals, panegyrics, quatrains and close to 4000 Rubais and several Masnavis aside from several texts in prose.


Qaul (Arabic) is an "utterance". The practice of chanting qauls at a Mehfil-e-Sama’a where only daf (tambourine) could be played to keep the beat, gradually developed into the Qawwali.

Qawwâli is essentially a form of Sufi devotional music popular across the Indian subcontinent, with a vibrant musical tradition that stretches back more than 700 years. Originally performed mainly at Sufi shrines it has gained mainstream popularity.

The qawwali singers, known as qawwals consist normally of a group of two or three rhythmists, a lead singer, a second and/or a third lead and others who clap vigourously in time with the beat.

Some authorities credit Khusrau with the invention of the form, while others believe that it evolved gradually from the Qaul through three generations of Chishti Sufis. Qutub-ud-Din Bakhteyaar Kaaki, Baba Fareed Ganj-e-Shakar and Hazrat Nizam-ud-Din Auliya.

It is Nizam-ud-din’s disciple Amir Khusrau who is credited with the text and musical compositions that qawwal’s usually sing, especially at Sufi Shrines. Khusrau is believed also to have fused Persian influences with Indian musical traditions in the late 13th century to create Qawwali as we know it today.
The poetry is implicitly understood to be spiritual in its meaning, even though the lyrics can sometimes sound secular or even hedonistic. The central themes of qawwali are love, devotion and longing (of man for the Divine).

is a Sufi shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure, often a Sufi saint.

One of the least known Dargahs of Delhi is the Bagh e Bedil in the heart of New Delhi. Situated adjacent to the National Stadium opposite Pragati Maidan on Mathura Road it is a beautiful, simple shrine surrounded by an unkempt forest, even its ‘urs’ being largely overshadowed by that of other Sufi saints of Delhi, notably those of Nizammudin Auliya and Amir Khusrau.
The songs which constitute the qawwali repertoire are mostly in Urdu and Punjabi but this evening in a unique collaborative experiment with Dr Akhlaque Ahmad ‘Aahan’ , Sohail Hashmi, the conceptualiser of this event and Ustad Chand Nizami and his group, who have specially learned these verses in Persian we bring you possibly the first ever recitation and singing of Bedils poetry in the Qawwali form.

: Chand Nizami, Shadab Faridi Nizami, Sohrab Faridi Nizami and party

This event will be preceded by the release of “Mirza Bedil”, the recently published work on the life and work of Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil, authored by Professor Nabi Hadi, with a preface by Dr Akhlaq Ahmad Aahan, who has also edited the volume.


These two walks have been created by Robinson with the desire to bring forth the unique diversity that existed within the magnificent city of Delhi and the religious tolerance that still makes all these places of worship an important living part of the city.

To coincide with 2 events in The Places of Worship Festival, (a part of The 2nd International Festival of Sacred Arts) well known theologian, poet and author Robinson will conduct the following 2 walks:

Walk No.1. saturday 20th february 2 to 6pm

1400 hrs meet at Banyan Tree IGNCA, Janpath (Opposite National Archives)
Vishwa Shanti Stupa
The Judah Hyam Synagogue
Gurudwara Rakab Ganj
Sacred Heart Cathedral
followed by walking on Mandir Marg
from Kali Bari up to Birla mandir.
In time for the Sattriya performance

6.30 pm Sattriya dance by Dancers and musicians: Sattriya Kendra Guwahati (see Places of Worship section for details of this performance)

Walk No 2. thursday 25th february 2 to 6 pm


1400 hrs meet at Banyan Tree IGNCA, Janpath (Opposite National Archives)
Parsi Ajuman
via Darya Ganj driving past the Jama Masjid onto Chandni Chowk
Jain Lal Mandir
Gauri Shankar Temple
Gurudwara Sisganj
Sunehri Mosque[from outside]
Fatehpuri Mosque
St. Stephens Church
The walk will end at the picturesque Bagh e Bedil for the Qawwali .

6.30 pm’Persian Qawwali’ a recital in the qawwali style of the Persian Poetry of Mirza Abdul Qadir “Bedil” by Chand Nizami and group (see Places of Worship section for details of this performance)

Delhi, a city with a living history constantly inhabited since the century ninth is full of artistic, architectural and religious diversity. Amongst the beautiful monuments left by many dynasties are the places of worship belonging to different traditions, religions and cultures.

The predominantly Hindu and Jain city Lalkot of the 9th century in the Mehrauli area lies adjacent to the first ever Muslim mosque, the Quwatt-ul-islam and the 12th century Qutab Minar.

Other areas of Delhi contain important Hindu temples, the Yogmaya and GauriShankar temples and the Birla Mandir. The Sikhs have many historic Gurudwaras - Sisganj, Rakabganj and DumDama Sahib which reflect important incidents in the life and death of their Gurus.

The city is also an important point for someone studying the evolution of mosque architecture from the Quwatt-ul-Islam mosque, the Qila-i-kuhna mosque in the Purana Qila, the Jamali-kamali and finally the grand Jama Masjid.

The city is rich in Churches across denominations even before the British made it their capital in 1911.There are Armenian churches in Sarai Rohilla and Subzi Mandi, The Saint James church in Kashmiri Gate and after 1911, the Sacred Heart Cathedral and the Cathedral Church of Redemption.
There are numerous old Jain temples, the Digambar Jain Mandir and the Swetambar mandir. The Baha’i have recently made one of the important landmarks of Delhi, the beautiful Lotus Temple in South Delhi. The Jewish faith is represented by the Judah Hyam Synagogue and there is a Parsi Dharamshala near Daryaganj.

All these in addition to the numerous Sufi Shrines that dot the landscape of Delhi, notably Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki and Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya's dargahs indicate the religious tolerance which existed in those times.

Robinson is an alumnus of St. Stephen's college, Delhi, a Theologian, Meditation Practitioner and a Poet. He has an advanced certificate from Soon Bible Studies and papers on comparative religion. He is currently researching on the mystical and meditative aspects in various religious traditions. His book ‘Christianity; An Indian Theological Perspective’ awaits publication. He has a published poetry collection. Reminiscences: The Poetry of Communion. Robinson also conducts walks on specific themes in Delhi like the old city Mehrauli, the Churches and Dargahs of Delhi.

tuesday 2nd march 6.30 pm    Tibetan Sacred Music: Nawang Khechog & Chukie Kelsang  at Vishwa Shanti Stupa






Tibetan sacred music dates back to a 12th century Bardic tradition of storytelling – the Lama Mani way of telling Buddhist parables through song. The songs were performed by wandering storytellers, who travelled from village to village explaining the vividly illustrated Buddhist thangka paintings which depicted a narrative and helped the audience understand what was essentially a teaching. As song lyrics in Tibet usually contained stanzas of 4 lines of 6 syllables each, the lyrics could be easily adapted to almost any melody.
Tibetan sacred music also often involves chanting in Tibetan or Sanskrit as an integral part of the practice of the religion. These chants are complex recitations of sacred texts or in celebration of various festivals. Similar in philosophy to the Indian Mantra tradition these sacred sounds create vibrations within the environment around us, transforming matter and consciousness at both visible and subtle levels of existence. Tibetan music has had a profound effect on some styles of Western music, especially New Age. Philip Glass (in Kundun) and Henry Eichheim are the most notable.
The authentic voice of this music in the West is Nawang Khechog. Since 1985 when he settled down in the United States he has been the unofficial musical Ambassador of Tibetan music to the Western world. As a musician, a monk and a meditator he has attempted to spread the message of non violence, compassion and spirituality through his music and his actions as a fighter for the freedom of his country.
Chukie Kelsang Tethong has also performed at Freedom Concerts in New York and Washington D.C. as well as important Tibetan functions in India. Living and working between 3 countries India, Nepal and The Netherlands her group ‘Gangchenpa’ with their CD ‘Voices from Tibet’ and performances around the world help keep alive the sacred and folk of Tibet.
(For more bio on both performers please see Performances page for 5th March.)


Tsewang Choeden – vocal, Dramgyen (lute), Nga (small drum)
Pheruk Lakpa – vocal, Nga

The World Peace Pagoda was inaugurated in 2007 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2007 to provide a 'peace haven' for all and to develop programmes that promote peace and ahimsa (non violence). It was the brainchild of Most Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii who founded the order Nipponzan Myohoji. This order entrusted itself with the mission of building Shanti Stupas all over the world and has already built 80 across the globe.
Set in DDA's Indraprastha Park on Delhi's Ring Road it is an aesthetic jewel with its developing Japanese Garden and beautiful landscaping. Relics and Sacred Objects for this Stupa were donated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the Governments


wednesday 3rd march 6.30 pm   "The quieter we are, the closer we get..." harmonic chanting by David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir at Sacred Heart Cathedral

The Festival of Sacred Arts and the Harmonic Presence Foundation warmly welcome you to this special evening of one of the world's pre-eminent overtone ensembles. We take you on a journey of contemplative world music of our time, Harmonic Chant.

Said world-famous violinist, humanist and devoted yogi Lord Yehudi Menuhin: "David Hykes has opened a new dimension in music; he has in fact, brought us the music of the spheres. It is the music which is guided by overtones, by proportions and multiplications which hold through the universe and govern all spatial and mathematical relationships. As music, these sounds retain an extraordinary mystery. It is a wondrous sound which must make every listener feel humble and yet part of the great system."

“The Harmonic Presence Foundation ….. is spreading a form of knowledge which joins the sciences at their most intangible level, where what appears as matter turns out to be only energy. Finally, this music which David Hykes brings us, the harmonic series, being as he says the musical DNA, the source of the music we know, which gives us life, also provides an extraordinary "Genesis Chapter" for musical education at all levels."

RAINBOW VOICE David Hykes, solo voice, breath, bell

SPECTRAL PATH David Hykes with Joel Bluestein, percussion

BROTHERHOOD David Hykes and Timothy Hill, voices, joined by Seth
Markel and Joel Bluestein

THE LORD'S BREATHING (Sufi poems by Rumi, Hafez and Eraqi about the divine
breath of Yeshua, the Christ). The ensemble




David Hykes, voice, bell, direction
Timothy Hill, voice
Seth Markel, voice
Joel Bluestein, voice


The Sacred Heart Cathedral is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Delhi and the largest Roman Catholic church of Delhi. Amongst the 5 or 6 historic churches of Delhi 2 were designed by Henry Medd, a  collaborator of Sir Edwin Lutyens . The Cathedral Church of Redemption was an Anglican edifice, the Viceroys church, while the Sacred Heart Cathedral was designed as a Catholic church located at the Gol Dak Khana near Connaught Place.

In spite of their originality both churches fit into a succession of formal and conceptual discussions for imperial Delhi’s architects about relating Italian mannerism to the British tradition. Foreign conquerors constantly tried to make their mark both militarily and culturally and church architecture is just another layer to the sub continents temples and mosques characterized by the rivalry between Islam and Hinduism.

The foundation for the church was laid in 1929 by the Most Rev. E.Vanni the Archbishop of Agra. The driving force behind the work was. Father Luke, a Francisian Friar. The church's main Altar is made up of pure marble, a gift by Sir Anthony de Mello. .There is also a beautiful cross known as the Mission cross towards the left of the main altar the statues and the paintings of the stations of the cross add beauty to the walls of the cathedral Pope John Paul II has made two visits to the cathedral. The cathedral which stood around 14 acres of land now stands in the middle of two prominent schools of Delhi , St. .Columba's and Convent of Jesus and Mary where the elites of Delhi are educated.

hursday 11 march
6.30 pm  “powar dochak” a Buzhen Sword Dance by the lamas of the Buzhen Nyingma-Pa sect at India International Centre Fountain Lawn

The Buzhen are a sub sect of the Nyingma-Pa sect of Buddhism. They live in the Pin Valley of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh on the opposite side of the river Pin to the Kungri Gompa, the second oldest monastery in Spiti. The remote Spiti valley is a cold, beautiful, inhospitable desert with a population of barely ten thousand and has at various times in history been a part of the Tibetan realm.
The main festival of Spiti is ‘Ladarcha’ and the main attraction is the spectacular buzhen sword dance. The buzhen are probably the only branch of Buddhism where the use of weapons is practiced. The coloufully dressed lamas perform the powar dochak ceremony, literally ‘breaking of stone’. The purpose is to destroy an evil spirit which takes shelter in a stone.

The performance of the sword dance is preceded by the setting up of an altar with an image of Tangthon Gyalpo in the middle and a large stone placed in front. The Lochen the main performer begins the sword dance with the blowing of conch shells, burning of incense and an invocation to the benevolent spirits. It culminates with the ‘breaking of the stone’ in a spectacular finale. Traditionally the broken pieces of the sacred stone are taken with great respect to be used in the plinths of the houses to drive away evil spirits.
In the adjoining Lahaul valley and in Ladakh as in Tibet the sacred ‘Cham’ devil dance is performed in the monasteries for the same purpose of driving out evil spirits.

In traditional societies fairs and festivals are held to rejoice and congregate. They are based on myths and legends and are arranged to propitiate deities, recreate and appease ancestors, propogate and market local skills. The buzhen sword dance is being brought to Delhi for the first time and should be viewed with knowledge for its sacred origins and reverence for its six centuries of local ritual.

It takes 3 days for the group to reach Delhi from the remote Kungri Gompa and we are grateful to Kishore Thukral of Tusita Divine Arts for organizing this event. He has undertaken the difficult task of restoring the nearby Dangkhar monastery ( and Norbu Tsering of Ecosphere (