KARACHI: Oxford University Press (OUP) and the Consulate General of Germany in Karachi jointly organized the event ‘Charisma of the Qalandar’ which featured a talk and presentation by the German anthropologist and author, Professor Jürgen Wasim Frembgen, on the unique devotional practices and rituals witnessed at the shrine of Pakistan’s most popular Sufi saint, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. This was followed by a mystical Sufi music performance by Tufail Khan Sanjrani.
Through a selection of colourful, visually fascinating images of artefacts, devotees, musicians, and faqirs, Professor Frembgen, in his presentation, transported the audience to the heart of the Sufi traditions, music, and culture associated with the Qalandar’s shrine in Sehwan Sharif. Professor Frembgen also read out excerpts from his ethnographic study At the Shrine of the Red Sufi: Five Days and Nights on Pilgrimage in Pakistan published by Oxford University Press. This vividly written narrative takes the reader on a journey to experience the spiritual rapture, ecstasy, trance, magic, and devotion at the annual urs celebrations held in honour of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.
Professor Dr Jürgen Wasim Frembgen is Chief Curator of the Oriental Department at the Museum of Ethnology in Munich, as well as Professor in Islamic Studies at the University of Munich. He has conducted ethnographic field work in Pakistan since 1981, including working in the Hunza and Nagar valleys, the Indus Kohistan, Punjab, and Sindh. Frembgen has more than a hundred English and German language publications to his credit. With (OUP) he has published six books including The Friends of God—Sufi Saints in Islam: Popular Poster Art from Pakistan; Journey to God: Sufis and Dervishes in Islam; and Nocturnal Music in the Land of the Sufis: Unheard Pakistan. He has written extensively on cultures of the Eastern Muslim world between Iran and India, focusing particularly on Pakistan.
Earlier, Dr Tilo Klinner, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany welcomed the guests, introduced the author, and spoke about the expanding cultural ties between Germany and Pakistan. In her address, Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press Pakistan, said that the Sufi tradition has strong roots in the subcontinent. “Jurgen Wasim Frembgen’s interest in the Muslim world and specifically Pakistan dominates his work and has brought to light many of the gentler and deeply interesting aspects of these cultures”, she further added. Dr Mehdi Raza Shah Subzwari, Sajjada Nashin, Qalandar Lal Shahbaz, spoke about the significance of the life and teachings of the red saint.
Later in the evening, the guests were treated to a Sufi musical feast by Tufail Khan Sanjrani, who along with his troupe of musicians gave an enthralling performance of the Sufi kalam sung in honour of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. They were also accompanied by dervishes who performed dhamal, the traditional dance incorporating intense drumming of the naqareh (dhol) seen at the shrine of the saint.