On an overcast evening, Urdu poetry soars in Jashn-e-Bahar 2015

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Avijit Ghosh

New Delhi: Poetry cannot bring down empires or change the world. As Hindi poet Kailash Vajpeyi, who passed away last week once said, it is more like hawa mein hastakshar, a signature in the wind. But the battle for a better world continues.

And in times when barbed wires and bitterness continue to divide nations, poetry must continue to act as a bridge between people – that’s the guiding principle of Jashn-e-Bahar, the capital’s premier Urdu mushaira which celebrated its 17th edition on Friday.

The poetry carnival also strives to protect and promote Urdu as heritage and as a symbol of India’s syncretic Ganga-Jamuna tehjeeb. As its Jashn-e-Bahar’s founder, Kamna Prasad said, “If you want to fall in love, you must learn Urdu.”

In that spirit, they came from Pakistan, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the USA, even China—men and women united by their love for the language. Together with the Urdu poets of India, they created an unforgettable night of ghazals and nazms talking of lost love, frightening headlines, father-son bonding, the rise of intolerance and the molten steel of their soul.

Kishwar Naheed, a prominent Pakistani feminist poet, recited her famous verse written after Taliban had smashed 470 schools for girls in the Swat Valley region. “Woh jo bachiyon se bhi dar gaye, woh hain kitne chhote wajood (identity) mein.”

When senior journalist Kuldeep Nayar, who presided over the evening, began lighting candles at the Wagah border several decades ago, Naheed was among those who immediately joined him on the other side of the fence. “I was called an Indian agent and he was called a Pakistani agent,” she recalled.

Amjad Ali Amjad, well-known poet and playwright from Pakistan, was equally impressive with his rendition of nazms. Waseem Barelvi addressed the audience with a certain confidence and charm drawing bahut khoob for some of his ghazals rendered in high-pitched tarranum. A much appreciated couplet was: Kalam mai to uttha ke jaane kab ka rakh chuka hota / Magar tum ho ke kissa mukhtsar (brief) karne nahi dete.

If Barelvi, Amjad and Naheed were the serious star poets of the evening, Popular Meeruthi and Kaleem Samar drew the maximum laughs and applause. Listening to them was like witnessing a laughter challenge show. For all the humour, though, the poetry was pungent. Sample this by Samar: Keh raha tha kal daroga thane mein deewan se / Aa gaye Kallan ke paise, chhod do samman se / Shukra maula ka ada karke Kallan ne kaha / Ho bhala rishwat ka warna mar dete jaan se.

Two of the most inspiring moments in the evening came from lesser-known poets. Oman Salim Al-Aidroos from Saudi Arabia read out a qasida, a poem of praise, for Indo-Arab friendship. Zhang Shi Xuan, a 75-year-old poet from Beijing on his fourth visit, also drew spontaneous acclaim from the crowd.

Over 3,000 poetry lovers occupied every chair at DPS, Mathura Road. Even the dark clouds, playing hide and seek poetically with the moon throughout the evening, couldn’t discourage them.

Citation
Avijit Ghosh, “On an overcast evening, Urdu poetry soars in Jashn-e-Bahar 2015,” in Times of India, April 5, 2015. Accessed on April 5, 2015, at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/On-an-overcast-evening-Urdu-poetry-soars-in-Jashn-e-Bahar-2015/articleshow/46809710.cms

Disclaimer
The item above written by Avijit Ghosh and published in Times of India on April 5, 2015, is catalogued here in full by Faiz-e-Zabaan for non-profit educational purpose only. Faiz-e-Zabaan neither claims the ownership nor the authorship of this item. The link to the original source accessed on April 5, 2015, is available here. Faiz-e-Zabaan is not responsible for the content of the external websites.

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