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Balouchistani Sufi Zikhar


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This is no discussion just some interesting information.

I've got this fantastic old LP of balouchistani 'sufi music' on ocora records from the 70s. I've had it for about 7 years and there is one track out of seven that I love, and would say is one of my favourite pieces of all time.

Balouchistani music is quite particular. The place straddles the Iranian border with Pakistan. The LP itself is 'Iranian music'. People might know it as the place where there is a lot of trouble in Pakistan presently.

The music is of voice, a saranda derivative, with what looks like a small dhol, bigger than a dholak, and played with the hands so that it sounds more like a daf (the big open circular drum used across the Islamic world - and a lot in zikhars). The music on this record is used for exorcism, and the record notes said that this tune could go on for up to 3 hours! I remember on that Sufi documentary on BBC the morroccans reffering to their gnawa reed music as bringing out the 'trance dance'.

Anyway, the tune is beautiful and ecstatic. 10 minutes of a locked riff which he improvises around, after 5 he gets totally locked into 'Shahbaz Qalandhar, Jhule Laal Qalandhar, Mast Qalandhar' with occasional 'HU HU' while everyone in the room is clapping. It just lifts off! Because its so good I used to listen to it after my sadhana in the morning (and still do) and drift off with it. It is entrancing and celebratory. Jhule Laal by the way is a cross over 'hindu ka guru, muslim ka peer' from the sindh part of Pakistan. You often see his portait in the Gujrati mandirs I've been to in the UK - sat crowned, on a fish in a river.

A couple of days ago I got freaked out by it, not that I was exorcised. I was listening as usual, and some bits you can't quite hear towards the end. I thought I recognised something in it. I turned it up really loud and had to listen to the same bit maybe ten times to finally prove to myself that he had actually sang what I thought it was... it goes 'Mast Qalandhar, Jhule Lal Qalandhar, Shahbaz Qalandhar...' then 'Baba Nanak Qalandhar HU HU, HU HU'!!!!

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