Soul Power: A dispatch from the Pakistani up-country, home to one of the oldest music festivals in the world

H. M. Naqvi in The Believer:

After barreling through the relentlessly flat, verdant Punjabi hinterland in a rented Toyota, stopping briefly for naan, kebabs, and petrol, we hit town at three, four in the morning, and at three, four in the morning, music wafts through the still, sticky summer air. Millions gather each year for ten days in the hilly medieval town of Pakpattan, in Pakistan, to commemorate the death anniversary of the twelfth-century saint Baba Farid, celebrating the reunion of man and his maker with qawwali—call it Muslim soul. When Doc, a pal and Pakpattan regular, urged me to join him on the pilgrimage the night before—it’s Baba’s 776th death anniversary, he informs me—I decided to accompany him. I can’t refuse Doc: I’ve got his back; he’s got mine. And who knows? Perhaps Baba will bless me as well. But you have to believe to be blessed.

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