Virsa Heritage Revived: Sallahudin salli

Virsa Heritage Revived: Reviving Culture Through Traditional Music

by Ayesha Sohail

The fundamental part of Pakistan’s cultural heritage revolves around classical music. But with the latest technology, dance crazes, and social media trends, it is in many ways noteworthy and also on the verge of extinction. No doubt, forums like Coke Studio has revived many classics to applause and appreciation but has anyone matched, let alone surpassed, the standards set by Mehdi Hasan, Iqbal Bano, and Farida Khanum? Has anyone stepped into the shoes of Ustad Fateh Ali Khan or Ghulam Ali ?

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Okay, let’s not talk about producing classics ever thought that we are even failing to present, celebrate, and restore the said classical legacy through a recognized, valued, and protected platform? So far, this is true, but I want you to know about one such forum which is working hard in reviving this cultural legacy, no other than Yousaf Salli’s Virsa Heritage Revived. Heard about this? No? Okay, let’s explore it then.

What is Virsa Heritage Revived?

Virsa Heritage Revived is a popular entertainment and music show broadcasted on PTV, followed by performances of several music artists. The program’s host is Yousaf Salahuddin, aka Mian Salli. He is the maternal grandson of the Allama Iqbal. He is a strong advocate of promoting arts and Basant festivals and organizing musical and poetic gatherings.

Yousaf Salahuddin salli virsa heritage revived
Source: Yousaf Salahuddin Instagram Account

Mian Salli has been hosting Virsa for the last 12 years. He also made a YouTube channel for the performances and crossed 100,000 subscribers, knowing that it’s the best platform to reach the youth. Virsa is also growing across the borders because Salli Sahib invites many local, national, and high-profile international classical lovers to glorify the big Mughal style Haveli “Barood Khana,” the venue for the program.

History of Haveli Barood Khana:

Salli sahib disclosed the history of Haveli Barood Khana in one of his programs while talking to some Indian guests. It’s a 17th-century Mughal style haveli built by a Sikh commanding general. It is in between the famous Badshahi mosque and Heera Mandi. At that time, it was the center of all the meetings of the Muslim League, during the freedom movement. Moreover, it was the biggest ammunition depot. Soo, it was called “Barood Khana.” Now, the haveli is the owned by Salli sahib and his family.

Yousaf Salahuddin salli virsa heritage revived
Source: Yousaf Salahuddin Instagram Account

Discoveries of Virsa Heritage Revived:

In another video, I came to know some interesting discoveries of Virsa, as Yousaf Salli has mentioned in the program “Sitaron Bhari Raat.” Famous names like Sahir Ali Bagga, Sanam Marvi, Hina Nasrullah, and Sara Raza Khan all got acclaim through the ‘Virsa’ program. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan can also be termed as its discovery because he started qawwali with Mian Salli, and all the famous qawalis were recorded at ‘Virsa.’

virsa heritage revived at haveli barood khan
Haveli Barood Khan: Source Youtube video screenshot

Moreover, after seeing the program, “Naseem-Bahar |A Tribute to Farida Khanum by Ali Sethi,” I realized that many semi-classical contemporary singers like Ali Sethi, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Ali Zafar, Atif Aslam, Hadiqa Kayani, Qaurat-ul-Ain Baloch play their parts in reviving this classical tradition. But, still, the efforts are at a trivial stage. There needs to be something big to portray the classical tradition.

virsa heritage revived at haveli barood khan
Source: Youtube video screenshot

Our Role as an Audience:

The efforts of the contemporary singers are at one side, it’s a two-sided effort program because Virsa Heritage Revived isn’t just a music program. It’s a mission to bring youth closer to their identity, history, and ideology. It’s a way to inculcate the heritage of classical music in youth. So, the least we can do is to support this great initiative of Salli sahib, because, I think, this program and PTV itself is much underrated.

Lastly, I would say support these types of forums and focus on the loss of classical tradition that rendered us incoherent.

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