The roots of Qawwali can be traced back to 8th century Persia (today’s Iran and Afghanistan). During the first major migration from Persia, in the 11th century, the musical tradition of Sema migrated to South Asia, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Amir Khusro Dehelvi of the Chisti order of Sufis is credited with fusing the Persian and Indian musical traditions to create Qawwali as we know it today in the late 13th century in India. The word Sama is often still used in Central Asia and Turkey to refer to forms very similar to Qawwali, and in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The songs which constitute the qawwali repertoire are in a number of languages. Those from the classical period are in dialects of north India like Brajbhasha and Awadhi. These dialects continue to have huge influence on qawwali in other languages. There is a rich tradition in other languages like Urdu, Punjabi, Persian, Saraiki. There is also qawwali in some regional languages but the regional language tradition is relatively obscure. Also, the sound of the regional language qawwali can be totally different from that of mainstream qawwali.
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