Beacons of Change

Hyderabad: At the Shaheen Resource Centre, in Sultanshahi, Hyderabad, a group of young girls laugh and sing a qawwali: Kab tak mera maula, dil mera pukara hai, shaadi meri marzi se kabhi hoti nahin hai, mujh ko kya pasand hai koi poochta nahin hai (Till when, O Lord, My heart calls! My marriage never happens in accordance with my wish. No one asks what I like.)
Jameela Nishat, feminist poet and founder of Shaheen, says about the girls’ singing qawwali as a beacon of change. “Women are not given space in public, they are allowed to write poetry but not allowed to perform in public. This is our effort to bring a change in that mindset.” The group from Shaheen has performed qawwalis with a social message at several places for three years now, including on issues related to women’s marginalization. “The response is amazing as qawwalis are enjoyed by all,” says Sania Fatima, a staff teacher and volunteer. The songs these girls sing carry a social message articulated in familiar tunes. The group comprises members of various ages and stages in life. A first-year student Swati Kulkarni is also part of the group. “I have knowledge of music but singing a qawwali was new. Everything, from the costume, changing one’s voice, to singing in rhythm to the claps was different,” she says.
(Extracted from


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