Refai Sufi minstrel Bahurdeen Bawa

Bahurdeen Bawa brought fame to his bawa lineage with his melodious voice

The Thinakkaran (Colombo) 1 July 2003
by A.L.A. Rafeek Firdaus, Nindavur special correspondent for Thinakkaran

Bahurdeen Bawa
Bahurdeen Bawa assists another bawa at Kataragama
Bahurdeen Bawa performing ratheeb at Kataragama

Bahurdeen Bawa, who brought everlasting fame to his bawa lineage, with his melodious voice, passed away suddenly recently. This is a great loss to musicians and to historians.

Born in 1930 in Silappathurai in the Mannar District, he was the son of Mohideen Fakhir Kolusan Bibi. He studied up to the sixth standard in the Erukalampatti Muslim Mahavidyalaya.

The Postmaster of Tarapuram Post Office, Abdul Gaffoor, discovered Bawa's interest and knowledge in music. He sent him for a musical examination in broadcasting. He was successful in this examination, and from that day, Bahurdeen Bawa gave recitals of songs over the radio accompanied by musical instruments.

Asad Maulana found ability of Bahurdeen Bawa over the radio and gave him the opportunity to sing fakir baith songs on the radio. In this program, he operated the tairadab instrument and sang with much emotion, eliciting the praise of many.

With the help of the former cluster education director and poet, Marudur A. Majideen, in 1984 Bahurdeen Bawa was given the opportunity to sing baith on Rupavahini television. He appeared in Rupavahini with a robust personality and rendering songs mellifluously, he brought pride to his community. For over thirty years, having participated in many programs over the radio and television, he earned many accolades, medals and prizes.

It should be mentioned that the former President J.R. Jayawardene honoured Bawa by presenting him with a golden parrot. He was also conferred with the title Noor-ul-Haseetha.

In the function organized for peace and inter-racial unity at Kattankkudi in 1998, Bahurdeen Bawa was conferred the title ‘Guardian of Racial Unity' for his service to further racial unity through ancient culture. He also received a golden parrot, a golden shawl and a gold medal.

Bahurdeen Bawa, who was born in Silappathurai and resided in Attalachenai, married Fathima in 1958. They had five daughters and lived a happy and contented life. He died just as the flag-hoisting ceremony of the Kalmunaikudi Seashore Mosque was being conducted.