A soulful rendition

Dhruv-Sangari PHOTO COURTESY: The Classic Bagh festival

Celebrating music, heritage, and culture, the Classic Bagh Festival is set to bring to life the many hues of Sufi traditions to Sunder Nursery 

Highlighting the importance of community and celebrating inclusiveness, the Classic Bagh Festival is a unique and intimate festival set within the grounds of Sundar Nursery, Delhi, formerly known as Azim Bagh, or Bagh-e-Azeem. 

Much like a garden, ‘Classic Bagh’ is reflective of a number of values – ecological sensitivity; inclusivity, variety and diversity; qualities definitive to a style or an artist; wisdom in tradition; artists who are emerging strong and are likely to sustain and flower over time; arts which have already withstood the test of time. 

Presented by Jodhpur RIFF and the British Council, in association with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the festival supports Indian artists and festival sector professionals impacted by Covid-19.

Designed as an immersive and environmentally conscious experience, the free one-day festival has been developed as a site-conscientious response to the luscious green setting of Sunder Nursery and its broader location within Nizamuddin. Celebrating Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s vision of pluralism and kindness, and the legacy and contribution to Hindustani music of his favourite disciple, father of Qawaali and Urdu literature, Hazrat Ameer Khusrau. 

Ustad Saeed Zafar Khan

Split into three periods, the Classic Bagh festival will open with a lakeside dawn chorus (6:00 am-9:00 am) of vocal recitals from the Hindustani, Sufi, Bhajan, Shabad and Qawwali traditions by the remarkable singers Smita Bellur and Jasleen Kaur Monga. 

Later in the morning (9:30 am-1:30 pm), in the heritage monument-straddled garden north of the Amphitheatre, a short set by the Langa Ensemble will flag off the session, followed by Delhi’s own renowned Qawwali singer Dhruv Sangari ‘Bilal Chishti’ followed by a series of classical-Sufi-folk covers by emerging Delhi artist Bawari Basanti. 

The festival will draw to a close later in the evening (6:00 pm-10:00 pm) with an eclectic set – a special Jangda recital from the Manganiyar tradition led by Barkat Khan, ghazals by emerging artist Sraboni Chaudhary and soul-stirring performances by renowned masters Ustad Saeed Zafar Khan, now the Khalifa of the Dilli Gharana, and Qawaal Bachchey Warsi Brothers, performing in Sunder Nursery’s amphitheatre. 

“Nizamuddin is a very special place from a musical and spiritual perspective. Jodhpur RIFF has designed the festival to acknowledge that legacy but also to go wider and include lineage or forms or artists resonant with the spirit of Khusaru’s work while bringing into the spotlight women artists who enrich and nourish our artistic and spiritual traditions,” says Artistic Director and Creative Producer, Divya Bhatia.

Warsi brothers

The Classic Bagh festival is conscious of the challenges professional musicians and performers have faced through the ongoing pandemic and underlines the British Council’s aim to support artists by bringing them face-to-face with audiences again. Part of the British Council’s Festivals for the Future programme that features a series of UK-India musical collaborations between Jodhpur RIFF, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

With Holi just around the corner, a special focus on ‘Rang’ will also transcend through the evening’s repertoire. Both morning performance sets will be open to anyone visiting Sunder Nursery, encouraging new audiences to interact with the specially curated music.

The festival will be open on March 21


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