Appreciating the beauty and richness of Urdu language, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday that it symbolised the syncretic culture of India and all citizens should do something to ensure that it flourishes.
"It is a symbol of Ganga-Jamni tehzeeb (syncretic culture)... The presence of such eminent people in such large numbers is a proof that Urdu is living langauge. We all must do something for it," Singh said while addressing a gathering at the launch of senior Congress leader Ashwani Kumar's book 'Ehsas-o-Izhar' in the Capital.
"Hazaron jawabon se achchi hai khamoshi meri, na jaane kitne sawalon ki aabru rakhe. (My silence is better than a thousand answers, it keeps intact the honour of innumerable questions)," Singh recited the couplet in his short speech which drew applause from the audience.
'Ehsas-o-Izhar' is a handpicked collection of Urdu poetry in devnagri script. "My new book is an anthology of some of the finest verses in Urdu poetry. It reflects sensitivity that has kept alive the poet in me. It is a reflection of my own thoughts & deepest sentiments experienced in the different phases of my life," Kumar said.
Celebrating the love for Urdu is always a beautiful feeling and when Jashn-e-Rekhta around the corner the love and the feeling become more satisfying.
Overwhelmed by the success of its previous editions, the three-day festival, starting December 8 in New Delhi, will once again spread the splendor of Urdu through panel discussions, mushairas, qawwalis, dastangoi, ghazals, dance, book exhibition, film screening, calligraphy and food festival
While an illustrious panel of Waheeda Rehman, Shabana Azmi, Muzaffar Ali and Ira Bhaskar, will talk about Depiction of Urdu Culture in Muslim Social Films, poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar will talk about literature, shayari and zindagi in his session, ‘Kuch Ishq Kiya, Kuch Kaam Kiya’.
Actor Amir Raza Hussain, theatre personality Danish Iqbal and ghazal singer Radhika Chopra will revisit renowned Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz in a session title Gulon Main Rang Bhare, Baad e Nau Bahar Chale.
The renowned Urdu Professor Gopi Chand Narang will celebrate Indian mythology in Urdu poetry and Pavan Kumar Verma. will talk about love for the great Ghalib.
Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nandita Das will host a session ‘Manto ke Rubaru’ to share with audience what helped make the film Manto a reality.
Salīqe se havāoñ meñ jo ḳhushbū ghol sakte haiñ
Abhī kuchh log baaqī haiñ jo Urdu bol sakte haiñ
Prominent among those participating in this year Jashn-e-Rekhta are Imtiaz Ali,
Shubha Mudgal, Shamim Hanfi, Shamshur Rahman Farouqi, Rahat Indori, Annu Kapoor and Ustad Rashid Ali Khan
The event will conclude on December 10 with a performance by the "Kun Faya Kun" fame Qawwali singers Nizami Bandhu
According to Sanjiv Saraf, founder of Rekhta Foundation, Jashn-e-Rekhta showcases how Urdu lends itself to various art forms be it literature, music, films, art, theatre, dance, or oral storytelling. The fourth edition of the festival will take place at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in Delhi to accommodate bigger crowd as footfalls of the event have risen from 20,000 in 2015 to about 1,40,000 in early 2017..
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.