City Moment – The Last Great Qawwal, Hazrat Nizamuddin’s Dargah

City Moment – The Last Great Qawwal, Hazrat Nizamuddin’s Dargah

The remarkable Delhi instant.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

One of the few classical qawwals left in India, he is the last great living qawwal of Delhi.

One morning in the courtyard of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s dargah, The Delhi Walla chances upon the legendary Meraj Ahmed Nizami. The elderly man is offering a qawwali. His voice is barely audible. It is a rare sight – the scholar-artist has drastically reduced his public appearances due to his frail health.

Mr Nizami’s stature as a classical Sufi singer is matched only by late qawwals such as Aziz Warsi of Hyderabad and Murli Qawwal of Lucknow. (I have written here about Mr Nizami.)

A couple of ten rupee notes are lying on his harmonium along with a packet of Parle-G biscuits and a piece of mithai.

Suddenly this visibly exhausted man looks at me, abruptly stops his qawwali and says, “Where were you? I’m not getting any programmes. Get me a show. I have to look after my family.”

Confusing me with someone else, Mr Nizami takes out his visiting card with his trembling hand, pointing out the mobile phone numbers of his qawwal sons.

It is a sad moment.

The man as an era