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.”