Ruhaniyat the annual All India Sufi & Mystic Music Festival of Banyan Tree, the sister company of Ninaad Music can be best described as the call of the soul. The festival not only features some of the most enchanting and rare forms of mystic music from across India and beyond, but also takes it to different parts of the country. Starting from Mumbai in the year 2001 today it is one of the most eagerly awaited events in seven cities i.e. Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune. It has voices from across India, covers varied genres and languages and yet reaches straight to the heart. That makes it not just the largest but also the only festival of its kind.

Conceived and produced by Mahesh Babu, director, Banyan Tree Ruhaniyat is an endeavor to remind ourselves of the blissful path of spirituality, of the basic oneness of all creation. Of the fact that beyond the manmade divides of class, caste, religion, race, language…all mysticism has the same goal, the direct experience of the divine. It is a reflection of the desire to transcend the here and now to reach the pure bliss of the communion with the source of all creation. In that sense Ruhaniyat is more than a concert. It is an experience. A lot is heard, noticed and much more is felt and absorbed. It just seeps within, unnoticed even by the one who is experiencing it.

History is replete with examples of Sufi saints and mystics across millennia who became the nucleus of peace and love, example of people who transcended all man made divides and spread love and solace to all alike. Ruhaniyat features participants who bring the works of the Sufis and Mystics alive.   People who have internalized these works to such an extent that they can let go the ego and escaping the clutches of the here and now surrender totally to let the music flow through them. In that sense Ruhaniyat is a celebration of the human endeavor to transcend the mundane and let the spirit soar higher and higher to the point where there is there is difference between the seeker, the path and the goal. It’s a celebration of the intent to open our hearts and a celebration of willingness to look beyond the spoken word, to accept and appreciate the fluid, unstructured flow of emotion and ecstasy.

Over the years Ruhaniyat has not only presented more than 5ooo participants, but it has also become a platform to discover rare forms and talents. Fakirs, bauls, monks, simple villagers, story tellers, mystic healers, as well as internationally acclaimed qawwals, experts of mystic music from other parts of the world as well as whirling dervishes have all shared their ecstasy with the audience on the same platform over the years. As the enchanting presentations by unique group or individual participants spread the feeling of peace and love, these unheard of art forms also get nurtured. Each exposure goes a long way in building bridges, and motivating individuals who participate.

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