Saeen Zahoor started singing poetry at the age of five.
He was born in the Sahiwal region in the province of Punjab, Pakistan and was the youngest child in a rural peasant family. From the age of five he also had reoccurring dreams, of a hand beckoning him towards a shrine. He left home at the age of thirteen, roaming between the Sufi dargahs
(shrines) of Sindh, Punjab, looking for the hand. He living without belongings, relying on the generosity of strangers at the shrines where he sang. He eventually found the shrine in his dream
in the south Punjab town of Uch Sharif, and he saw the hand that had called him from his dream, waving him inside. Soon after he began to study under the master Raunka Ali of Patiala Gharana.
He plays the ektara
, a one stringged instrument, and a three-stringed version called tumbi
. When he sings he spins like the dervish that he is, throwing his embroidered kurta
in a circle, with the tassels on his instrument whirling around him. He wears the ghungroo
ankle-bells, layers of heavy beaded necklaces, rings on every finger, a tightly bound black turban, and khol
around his eyes.
Zahoor is illiterate. He is often high on hashish. When I met him I thought he was one of the most perfect humans I had ever seen.
I have seen him put people into an ecstatic trance. And in that trance they find their god.