During my internship at Indian Express – Ahmedabad, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Birwa Qureshi. She is wife of noted Table player Ustad Fazal Qureshi and sister-in-law of Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain. Birwa originally hails from Ahmedabad. She belongs to a very prominent family of architects of the city. Birwa, a CEPT university graduate, is a qualified interior designer. She is a noted Bharatnaytam and Folk dancer. She is also the founder of “Crraft of Art”, an NGO.
For the last three years, Birwa has been working vigorously towards preserving the historical monuments of the city. Through the concept of Sufi and water festivals, Birwa has managed to bring a significant wave of awareness among the people about the long-forgotten monuments in the city. This November again, Crraft of Art, hosted Sufi festival at Sarkhej Roza and Water festival at Adalaj ni Vav. Both the festivals were a grand success.
Talking about how it all started, Birwa states that Ahmedabad is the epitome of rich heritage and credits her upbringing for her inclination towards it. “I am an Amdavadi at heart. This is where I completed my education and learned to dance,” she said.
Birwa opines that Sarkhej Roza is the paragon of secularism. “It is a beautiful amalgamation of Hindu and Muslim architectural styles. As a design student, we used to go on trips to sketch the beautiful monument. It has these positive vibes which can instantly attract anyone. There has always been this sense of openness attached to it,” she asserted. On the other hand, Birwa finds the concept of a step-well very unique. The fact that there are many folklores attached to it, makes it very attractive,” she explained.
Birwa believes that history can’t just exist in pages. “Its important to revisit history. I eventually plan on covering all the monuments in the country starting from Champaner, she revealed. A UNESCO-designated world heritage site, Champaner is located 47 kilometers from Baroda. “It has recently been resurrected. It’s practically a whole township of monuments. This is still a very dreamlike project,” she added.
The response received for the festivals has been overwhelming. “I didn’t expect it to become so big. I remember some old people saying that despite living in the city all their lives, they didn’t know that such places existed in their backyard!,” she said.
Birwa currently lives in Mumbai with her husband and two children.