Pakistan first sufi opera singer Saira Peter has captivated the hearts of audience at International Mystic (Music) Festival in Konya, Turkey, where she performed to pay tribute to Maulana Rumi, the great Sufi poet.
The unique colours of Saira’s own sufi compositions, particularly a qawwali of Maulana Rumi’s poetry in Persian and Turkish, dazzled listeners, instantly increasing her fanbase, who quickly uploaded her performances onto Turkish social media, said a press release issued on Sunday.
The British composer Paul Knight from London joined her on stage on piano, whilst her husband Stephen Smith provided harmonium accompaniment. She sang sufi and spiritual songs in seven languages (Urdu, Farsi, Turkish, English, French, Latin, Italian), many composed by her, as well as a range of western and Pakistani classical styles, including her recently released aria ‘Marvi’s Marsiya’ from upcoming sufi opera ‘Marvi’s Tears’.
She also sang sufi poet Shah Abul Latif Bhittai’s kalam ‘Morey Mann Main Aas’ in Urdu, and ‘Resplendent’ in English, the latter a translation of Latif’s Sindhi poem ‘Tou Habib, Tou Tabib’. After her 80 minute performance, which culminated with long applause and a standing ovation, a long queue of well-wishers gathered for selfies.
Saira Peter was honoured to receive a special shield from Madam Esin Bayru Celebi, a direct descendent of Maulana Rumi and a tradtional ‘ney’ (Turkish reed flute) of Rumi from Yasar Sancan, Assistant Manager Konya Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
It was fascinating to observe a new form of cultural exchange taking place between Pakistan and Turkey. While it was well known that Pakistan’s public were great fans of Turkish drama, the Turkish public has now become fans of Pakistan’s sufi opera star Saira Peter.
While speaking with media, Saira Peter expressed her honour as being part of the world’s largest sufi music gathering and singing Maulana Rumi’s teaching against materialism, greed and selfishness, living a simple lifestyle based on spiritual values of selflessness and love, and drawing close to God through spiritual song and dance.
She said she now understood why the entire world valued Rumi’s teaching – he accepted anyone of any background, welcoming their heartfelt artistic expression, whatever their faith. She was also delighted to discover Turkish composers and poets’ regard for iconic Pakistani poet Allama Iqbal, who devoted dozens of poems to Rumi’s views and teachings, even referring to Rumi as his spiritual master (‘pir’).