Soothing and soulful Ginans and Sufi songs filled the air in Dar es Salaam as the Tanzania Jamat gathered for a devotional night: Shab-e-Sufiyana, in preparation of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit this week. 

Interpreted as “a night of Sufi thought,” Shab-e-Sufiyana was presented by the newly formed Ismaili Orchestra through a National Council initiative under the Jubilee National Task Force for Arts & Culture.  The group performed songs and Ginans, which delighted Jamati members who sang and clapped to the beats with the orchestra.  The orchestra also recited a beautiful Qasidah, which was part of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Homage Ceremony in July.

It was the first time in several years that Tanzania established an orchestra such as this one, which included 21 Ismaili vocalists and 7 instrumentalists from across the country.  Orchestra members were selected through an audition process through the general Jamat soon after the official confirmation of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit.

Reshma Bharmal, a member of the Jubilee National Task Force for Arts & Culture said that the orchestra came together for the first time just eight days before the event, and worked as a team to compile and practice the songs and Ginans daily.

“They put their heart and soul into this devotional night and worked numerous hours to put together the compilations [of songs],” she said.

During the practice sessions, Ramadevi Iyer, a professional vocalist teacher at Aga Khan Primary School, voluntarily helped prepare the orchestra members to hit all of the high and low notes.

One of the orchestra members, Heena Hanif Pira from Mwanza Jamatkhana said it was a joyous and humbling experience and felt blessed to be part of it all.

“It was an honor to be part of the Ismaili Orchestra during the Diamond Jubilee. It is one way to show our love and dedication to the Imam.”