Enlivening Punjabi Mushaira
By Iftikhar Nasim
to R : Sabir Raza (Manchester, UK), Karamat Gardezi,
Ata ul Haq Qasmi (Pakistan), Dr. Amanullah Khan and
The Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America (APPNA)
had a three-day convention which brought two thousand doctors,
their family members, and friends together in Houston. In
the programs there was an Urdu mushaira and a very unusual
poetry session of Punjabi language. It was the first time
in the history of North America that a Punjabi Mushaira at
a large scale was held under the auspices of the distinguished
and vibrant organization of medical doctors of Pakistan origin.
The mushaira was a brainchild of Dr. Aman Ullah Khan who has
just appeared on the Punjabi literature scene. His poetry
collection “Mukar Gain nay Chawan” is considered
a watershed in Punjabi literature. He is a Renaissance man.
His Punjabi poetry is sung by Indian and Pakistani young and
mature singers. He has been acknowledged for his literary
contributions in both East and West Punjab. His poetry has
also been translated in Gurumukhi.
The venue of the mushaira was crowded by the attendees who
soon outnumbered the available seats. So the chairs were rearranged.
At about 9 pm Dr Naeem Kohli, the master of ceremony, took
the mike and began to call the names of the poets. The name
of famous columnist and poet Ata Ul Haq Qasmi was announced
as the guest of honor as Karamat Gurdezi was asked to preside
over the musahiara. A very prolific poet, both in Urdu and
Punjabi and a novelist Mr. Sabir Raza, who was invited from
Manchester England, took his chair followed by the host Dr.
Aman Ullah Khan, Iftikhar Nasim, Rev.Afzaal Firdaus, Shehnaz
Imtiaz, Younas Ajaz and Nadir Durrani.
proceedings began at around 9:30pm. Members of the audience
were glued to their chairs as the quality of the Punjabi poetry
heard on the occasion was par excellence. Usually in a big
convention people have lots of choices but many people opted
for the Punjabi mushaira.
Some of the people were curious about the language. Some thought
it was a “bhangra” offshoot like the one they
see in Bollywood movies and songs. But they were amazed at
the sensitivity of the language and the seriousness of the
poetical content. On every couplet recited by the poet, there
were appreciative chants of “wah, wah” from the
audience. At the end, the audience wanted to hear more of
Luckily present in the audience was Urdu literature icon Dr.
Gopi Chand Narang. I requested him to come to the stage and
say a few words. He readily obliged and in his brief address
on the occasion informed that the Punjabi zaban is three thousand
years old. It has a rich history of literature, especially
in mystic poetry. He mentioned Heer Waris Shah, a famous love
story, narrated by famous Punjabi poet Waris Shah. It is sung
in carnivals as well as in private mehfils. Dr. Narang was
very much impressed by the quality of modern Punjabi poetry
recited by Sabir Raza, Dr.Aman Ullah Khan and the rest of
the poets. At the end, Mr. Karamat Gardezi thanked the poets