Kahin kuch door se kaanon mein padhti hai agar Urdu
To lagta hai ke din jaadon ke hain
khidki khuli hai, dhoop andar aa rahi hai...
For years poets, academicians, critics and artists are lamenting how Urdu, once a popular language of India, is vanishing away from popular discourse. But after seeing a huge crowd at the recently concluded Jashn-e-Rekhta and their eagerness towards this shireen (sweet) language, it can be said that Urdu has got a kiss of life. Now, many feel there is a resurgence of Urdu, especially among what are commonly known as non-Urdu wallahs.
When Rekhta foundation first started the Urdu fest in New Delhi in 2015, it had expected 2,000-3,000 people, but a little over 18,000 people turned up. That number went up by five times last year, reaching to 85,000. This year the turnout at the fest got even bigger as the foundation showcased the rich literary and cultural heritage of the language through panel discussions, mushaira,qawwali, dastangoi, ghazals, baitbaazi, book exhibition and calligraphy workshop etc.
While inaugurating the fest (on February 17) Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan said, “Urdu is not restricted to any particular religion. It is Hindustan’s language. And I pray to God that the entire world should feel its beauty, its romance, and may it flourish more and more.”
“Religion had nothing to do with Urdu and Hindi in the past. Christopher King did a survey which tells that in 1879 the circulation of Urdu newspapers were eight times than those of Hindi papers in India. Everyone... Hindu, Muslim or Punjabi were well-versed in Urdu. This proves the fact that religion had got nothing to do with it then,” renowned historian Irfan Habib said at a session Dilli Jo Ek Shahr Tha at the festival.
Talking about his love for Urdu, famous lyricist poet Gulzar noted that it is the only language that is capable of turning strangers into friends. He recited:
Ajab hai yeh zabaan, Urdu
Kabhi yunhi safar karte agar koi musafir sher padh de Meer, Ghalib ka
Woh chahe ajnabi ho, yahi lagta hai woh mere watan ka hai
Badi shaista lehje mein kisi se Urdu sun kar
Kya nahi lagta ke ek tehzeeb ki awaaz hai, Urdu
Gulzar, however, felt the need of preserving Urdu script. “While Urdu is expanding its reach, I feel the Urdu script is shrinking and losing its place. And we need to support and preserve it now,” he said.
Talking about the power of expression of Urdu as a language at a session titled Urdu ka Adaalati Lehja, former chief justice T S Thakur said if a picture is worth a thousand words, a couplet in the language is worth “two thousand words.”
Abhī kuchh log baaqī haiñ jo Urdu bol sakte haiñ --Anonymous
To celebrate the vibrancy of Urdu, the third edition of Jashn-e-Rekhta will be held at IGNCA in New Delhi from February 17-19. The inaugural function will be graced by poet-lyricist Gulzar and sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan followed by a musical performance of Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash.
Besides panel discussions and mushaira, the festival will also have interactive sessions like Khuli Nashist and baitbaazi etc. As a part of Alfaaz Aapke, Awaaz Hamari, RJ Sayema has invited ghazals and short stories written by people, many of which will be read by her at the festival.
To add to the spirit of the festivities, the Jashn will host a sufi evening with Hans Raj Hans, qawwali by Dhruv Sangari and ghazal singing by Vidya Shah.
The three-day festival will witness Gulzar in a conversation with Javed Siddiqui at a session titled Hum Sooratgar Kuch Khwaabon Ke.
Sessions like ‘Ghalib, Hali and Urdu Renaissance’, ‘Jab Filmein Urdu Bolti Thin’, ‘Dilli Jo Ek Shahr Tha’, ‘Urdu ka Adaalati Lehja’ and ‘Urdu Mein Hindustani Tahzeeb ka Jashn’ etc., have also been planned.
Famous historian Irfan Habib, critics Gopi Chand Narang and Shamim Hanfi, lyricist Prasoon Joshi, .former Plan panel member Syeda Saiyidain Hameed, former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, poets Wasim Brelvi and Farhat Ehsaas, actors Prem Chopra, Sharmila Tagore and Anu Kapoor are some the prominent personalities who are expected to attend the event.
In ‘Tazmin-e-Ghalib’, theatre person Ashok Lal will recite his Tazmins of Ghalib’s couplets, to explore Ghalib's wordly and metaphysical concerns from a new perspective. Tazmin is adding to an existing couplet or a line thereof. This celebrated old literary practice features a poet honouring another poet by creating and reciting poetry following the metre, rhythm and rhyme of the latter as a standard. The idea is to explore wider meanings and dimensions of the original. Rekhta foundation — an initiative of IIT Kharagpur alumnus Sanjiv Saraf —runs the website www.rekhta.org.
According to Saraf the festival has endeavoured to preserve the rich cultural heritage of Urdu and bring its diverse flavours to the masses. The festival has grown organically to reach more than a lakh people since its inception in 2015.
This is what I have to say about February 14, which many celebrate as Valentine’s Day:
Kahte hain log ke aaj Yaum-e-Ushshaaq hai
Sochtae hain hum ke ye kaisa mazaak hai
Jab sachche husn aur ishq ki baat hai
To phir ye kaisa ek roza bandish-e-mulaqaat hai
Gulab ke phool liye jo aaj pur tapaak hain
Kal kahenge hava-e-dahr ka ye sirf ishtiyaaq hai
Jab sachche husn aur ishq ki baat hai
To unse har mulaqaat mushtaaq hai
Lamha lamha dars-e-akhlaaq hai
Mahfil unki gulfaam aur sab yaddain ufaq hai
Jab sachche husn aur ishq ki baat hai
To phir kya din aur kya raat hai
Har subh Yaum-e-Ushshaaq hai
Aur har shab taroon ki baraat hai
(Meanings of some words used above:Yaum-e-Ushshaaq = Valentine's Day; Ek roza = one day: Pur-tapaak = full of warmth, zeal; Hava-e-dahr = wind of world; Ishtiyaaq= longing, fondness; Mushtaaq = desirous/ eager; Dars-e-akhlaaq = moral lesson; Gulfaam= rose coloured; Ufaq = horizon)
When young Arman Ali Reza Dehlvi started singing this nazm of Iqbal Ashar at a programme to celebrate the Urdu language in New Delhi last Saturday, the audience enjoyed each and every word of this beautiful composition. Arman (in pix below) and his Trippy Sama band really set a sama (stage) for the celebration by singing melodiously Afreen, Afreen… and Ghalib’shar ek baat pe kahte ho tum ki tū kyā hai; tumhīñ kaho ki ye andāz-e-guftugū kyā hai ….”
Arman’s performance was the part of the day-long programme -- Afreen, Afreen — which also saw literary reading and poetry recitation on the themes of wit, humour and satire, dissent, erotica, piety and modernism
In an effort to keep Urdu vibrant among the public, Rakhshanda Jalil, the founder of Hindustani Awaaz, organized the event at the Oxford Bookstore in the Capital. The programme included readings from the works of humourist Dilawar Figar; novelist Mushtaq Yusufi, short-story writer Naiyar Masud; poets Majaz, Faiz, Ahmad Faraz, Jaun Eliya, Parveen Shakir, Fahmida Reyaz, Ibne Insha and revolutionary poet Mir Jafar Zatalli among others.
Salima Raza, Sohail Hashmi, Danish Iqbal, Saif Mahmood and Pervaiz Alam read the acclaimed fiction and poetry.
Eminent poet Gauhar Raza (in pix left)recited his poems in the segment, “poetry of dissent”, which also saw Chinna Dua singing Faiz’s “Bol ke lab azaad hain tere…” and “ham dekheñge …lāzim hai ki ham bhī dekheñge, vo din ki jis kā va.ada hai, jo lauh-e-azal meñ likhkhā hai ;jab zulm-o-sitam ke koh-e-girāñ; ruuī kī tarah uḌ jā.eñge..”
In the segment Aqeedat ke Rang, Sana Rashid beautifully sang a hamd and a naat, while Rashmi Agarwal recited Allama Iqbal's famous prayer Ya rab! dil-e-Muslim ko woh zinda tamana de jo qalb ko garma de, Jo rooh ko tarpa de (Lord, fill the Muslim’s heart with a desire so fervent. That it will set his heart aflame and stir his soul.).
The event also saw a mini mushaira, dastangoi and qawwali by Dhruv Sangari.
Prominent among those who attended the function were lyricist Javed Akhtar, writer and columnist Sadia Dehlvi, senior TV journalist Vinod Dua and former DD news reader Salma Sultan.