Pakistani ghazal singer Ustad Ghulam Ali will perform at Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple in Varanasi during the inaugural day of its annual music concert, beginning April 26. The performance by Ali, who had participated in the concert last year as well, will be preceded by classical singer Pandit Vishwanath.
The temple authorities have also invited Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit. Among the other invitees include Prime Minister Narendra Modi (who represents Varanasi in the Lok Sabha), actor Amitabh Bachchan, whom the authorities have requested to recite Hanuman Chalisa during the programme where about 57 renowned classical singers and musicians are expected to perform at the annual concert, which the temple organises every year on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti.
While the guests could attend the event on any day during the entire six-day run, the authorities are yet to receive confirmation from Amitabh and the PMO.
Temple’s mahant professor Vishwambhar Nath Mishra told The Indian Express that he had met Ghulam Ali at a programme in Delhi two days ago and requested him to perform at the temple’s annual concert this year, too.
“Today, I received a call from him confirming that he will perform on the first day of the event,” Mishra said.
He added that an invitation has also been sent out to the Pakistan High Commissioner, although a confirmation was yet to be received. “If he visits the temple and attends the event, it will send a good message among the masses,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hindu Yuva Vahini, the outfit of BJP’s Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath, announced that it will protest Ghulam Ali’s presence at the concert. Its state president Sunil Singh said the organisation has decided not to let Ali perform at the Sankat Mochan temple “because he belongs to Pakistan — a country that wants to destroy India.”
“Pakistan sends intruders and terrorists in our country. Terrorists had attacked Sankat Mochan temple, too. They kill innocent people. How could a Pakistani singer be invited to perform in our country? We will also oppose the visit of Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit if he comes. HYV workers will protest at the airport and workers will remain present in the audience at the temple premises to protest Ali’s performance,” Singh said.
Mishra, speaking on the HYV’s threat, said no one should object to Ali’s visit because he has been invited to a “cultural programme.” If HYV workers meet him, Mishra said he could “convince” them. He, however, added that he has not approached the district administration expressing security concerns so far.
Among those set to perform at the event include classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj, classical flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, sarod player Aashish Khan, classical singers Rajan and Sajan Mishra, carnatic singer T N Seshagopalan, violinist L Subramaniam, playback singer Kavita Krishnamurthy, Santoor player Bhajan Sopori, bhajan singer Anup Jalota and classical musician Dr Yella Venkateswara Rao.