Aligarh Mushaira in Washington

By Zafar Iqbal, Ph.D.

“Nikal ke shahroN mein aa bhi jaana, chamakte khwaboN ko saath leykar
Buland-o-baala imaratoN mein phir apne gaoN talaash karna”

(L to R) Jazib Quraishi, Dr. Abdullah, Khushbir Shaad (on microphone), Rasheeda AyaN, and Rehana Roohi

Most men and women living away from their ancestral homes perhaps share these thoughts expressed by Ahmad Salman Farooqi at a recent mushaira in Washington DC. This subconscious yearning for “gaoN” is apparently the driving force in organizing cultural and literary functions in our adapted homes. The Aligarh Mushaira — as it is known in North America —has become the most awaited literary function in town and it has been rejuvenating the memories of the homeland and its culture for the last 32 years.
Starting in1975 by the Aligarh Alumni Association (AAA) at a moderate scale in Metropolitan Washington, the Aligarh Mushaira now attracts hundreds of listeners from far distances and the participating poets find themselves busy in sharing their poetry with thousands of fans in Washington and many other cities in North America .
The Aligarh Mushaira is a part of celebration paying tribute the late Sir Syed Ahmad Khan for bringing positive social change in the Muslim society through education. Like previous years, poets from different parts of the world came to recite their poetry on Saturday, 11th November 2006. The poets included Nida Fazli, Popular Meeruthi, and Khushbir Singh Shaad (India), Jazib Quraishi and Rehana Roohi (Pakistan), Sadaf Mirza (Denmark), Rasheeda Ayan (New Jersey), Sabiha Saba and Raiees Warsi (New York), Ali Meenai (Ohio), Ahmad Salman Farooqi (Canada), Razi Raziuddin and A. Abdullah (Maryland), and Yusuf Rahat (Virginia).

(Lto R) Popular Meeruthi, Jazib Quraishi, Nida Fazli (on microphone), Rasheeda Ayan, Rehana Roohi, Khushbir Shaad, Ahmad Salman, and Raiees Warsi

The president-elect of AAA, Dr Rahat Khan noted that the year 2006 is significant in the history of women education as the Girls’ School established by the late Sheikh Abdullah at the Aligarh Muslim University completed one-hundred years. Dr. A. Abdullah, the Chairman of Board of Trustees of the Aligarh Alumni Association, chided that the advancement in girls’ education at Aligarh has also impacted the AAA; the past, present and incoming presidents of the association were all women. And, then he requested Rasheeda Ayan, the senior most woman poet in North America to preside over the mushaira. Dr. Abdullah, who is known for his quality of “Darya ko kooze mein bund karne,” i.e., saying a lot in few words, skillfully conducted the mushaira.

(L to R) Ali Meenai, Sabiha Saba, Popular Meeruthi, Jazib Quraishi, Dr. Abdullah, Khushbir Shaad (on microphone), Rasheeda Ayan, Rehana Roohi, Ahmad Salman, and Raiees Warsi

A significant change in this year’s mushaira was the participation of a few younger poets like Khushbir Singh Shaad, Ahmad Salman Farooqi, Ali Meenai, and Sadaf Mirza.
Khushbir Singh Shaad is a refreshing new voice that impressed the audience and senior poets alike by his enthusiasm for Urdu and Lucknow-style delivery. His philosophy is best summed up in this verse:



"Har paudhey ko paani dena hai dushwar
Magar baarish ke mausam tak sabko zinda rakhna hai."

Ahmad Salman seems to be longing for his roots and culture in ancestral “gaon” his parents left in Azamgarh.
Ali Meenai’s lineage to the famous poet from Lucknw, Ameer Meenai is evident in his poems.
Jazib Quraishi’s poetry reflects his vast experiences of life.

“Varna darya tere ghar tak aata
Aansuon sey kabhi roay nahin hum”

Nida Fazli, like previous years, again mesmerized the audience with his beautiful language that is close to masses and his impressive narrative style.

“Baans ki khudri khaat ke ooper Har aahat par kaan dhare
Aadhi soee aadhi jaagi Thaki dopahar jaisi MaaN”

Popular Meeruthi is an expert in doing parody of famous poets. He gets the audience involved in laughter with his typical style of recitation.

“Murghe chura ke laye the jo Popular
Do aarzoo meiN kat gaye do intizar meiN”

Rehana Roohi has a beautiful voice and represents women’s view point frankly.

“Aaj bhi kal ki tarah deyr se ghar aaye gaa woh
Phir bahane wahi dohraey gaa yooN hai, yooN hai”

Sabiha Saba and Raiees Warsi are always in big demand in North American mushairas and they never disappoint the audience.
Dr. Hashima Hasan, AAA president, earlier welcomed the participants and the audience and the mushaira concluded with a vote of thanks by the AAA Secretary, Dr. Ayub Yusufi.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.