Colour of Faith
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A kaleidoscope of events unfolds in dargahs, from the fervid prayers of the faithful to the games of children to the other-worldly pacing of the possessed. Photographer Shivani Dass, 28, travelled to nine Sufi shrines across the country with her camera and the outcome is an exhibition at Alliance Francaise, "Violet Dreams", which offers an intimate portrayal of life in a dargah.
The opening image is of a woman lost in trance, and you fear that she's going to fall down any moment. Another photograph shows a man sleeping — but where's the sense of repose? In another image, qawwals lost in song seem to inhabit an oasis of their own. This interplay between calmness and high, often uncontrolled, emotion runs through the 28 images of the exhibition. "I have always been intrigued by Sufism and its mystical ways. I wanted to provide a visual language to the quest for this path and this is what I have attempted through "Violet Dreams," says the photographer.
The exhibition began on Saturday with a performance by qawwals Amjad and Asad Ahmed Khan Warsi. Guests milled around exchanging news and air kisses even as the Warsi brothers let their vocals soar above the noise. This was followed by a short discussion between Dass and photographer Parthiv Shah and writer Sadia Dehlvi. Dass also screened a short film titled Violet Dreams: The Journey, which comprises several images on display, but with sounds from inside dargahs — thus transporting a viewer into a place of prayer where chaos can exist with serenity.
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