Urdu Writers Society of North America, Inc.  Holds Annual Award Night and Mushaira 2010
By Akhtar M. Faruqui
Pictures by Anwar Khwaja and YKKB

Glimpses of the Annual Award Night and Mushaira 2010 organized by the Urdu Writers Society of North America, Inc. on board the MV Majestic

The literary meetings and functions organized by the Urdu Writers Society of North America, Inc. are always substantive and entertaining.  The Society's President Irfan Murtaza is a sharp-witted poet who lights up the sessions with his characteristic wit; Chairman  Arif Mansuri unfailingly displays subtle humor;  CEO Mohammad Kalam accosts all and sundry with an infectious smile; Hadi Raza Khan shows impeccable mannerism;  and each and every Society office-bearer has a face lit up  with a beaming smile.  Asif Syed, who is no more, was an embodiment of propriety. He was an integral part of this enterprising group and one of its founding members. 
On June 26, the invitees to the Society's awards ceremony and annual mushaira were once again witness to its members' exemplary vision and performance. The venue this time was wholly different from the previous ones: the function was held aboard a ship - MV Majestic. It was a memorable cruise along Los Angeles Long Beach. 

As the evening wore on, the temperature dropped sharply and a cool breeze lashed the Urdu lovers. But their spirits remained unnumbed, thanks to the sparkling banter of  Irfan Murtaza et al. and the wit of Masroor Jawed, a fine emcee with poetry in every movement. In the mantle of Sir Walter Raleigh, Irfan put his jacket around Dr Meher Tabatabai, whose presence along with that of her distinguished husband Qaisar Madad and Dr Khalid Ahmed, imparted a sobering air to the proceedings. In recent years, the couple has emerged as the Patron Saint of community strivings and has rightfully earned the gratitude and respect of its members.

 A large number of poets from Pakistan, USA and Canada joined the local poets in presenting their kalam to the delight of the distinguished assemblage. They included Rafiuddin Raaz (Karachi), Ghazanfar Hashmi (Islamabad),  Naseem Syed (Canada), Ahmad Mubarak (New York), Abul Hasan Naghmi (Washington), Yunus Aijaz (Dallas), and prominent local poets: Tabish Khanzada, Atiya Niazi, Zafar Abbas, Wasiul Hasan Naqqash, Asadullah Hussaini Chakkar, Irfan Murtaza and Asifa Nishat.

The award winners this year were: Ikram Barelvi (Brigadier Syed Mohammad Ali Tabatabai Raaz  Luckhnawi Award), Yunus Aijaz (Haji Mohammad Award) and Abul Hasan Naghmi (Zaffar Ali Mansuri Award)

Of the many insightful observations made on the occasion, the one by Mr Naghmi about the future of Urdu in North America merits special mention. "I am an incurable optimist," he remarked as he hinted  at the formidable odds against the promotion of Urdu in
this part of the world.  There are cultural constraints at play to add to the monumental challenges. Mr Naghmi's grandson, for instance, describes  the achkan worn by him on special occasions as a Halloween costume! 

Reflective of this truly exasperating trend - of conflicting cultural ethos and values - is the fashionable practice among community stalwarts to feign difficulties in speaking Urdu at social gatherings!

Commenting on the Mushaira & Award Night, Mr Karim Raza, a former Senior Civil Servant and Lecturer, English, Karachi University, observed:
"Urdu language treasures South Asia's collective emotional, cultural, religious, ethical and political heritage of the positive and constructive presence of liberal tolerant Muslims led by all-embracing Sufis, just and creative Kings, and imaginative and influential Poets.

Glimpses of the Annual Award Night and Mushaira 2010 organized by the Urdu Writers Society of North America, Inc. on board the MV Majestic

”I am elated to see that the dedicated stalwarts of the Urdu Writers' Society patronized by Dr. Meher Tabatabai, Mr. Qaisar Madad, and Drs. Khalid and Parveen Ahmed are carrying on the tradition of Mushaira for the recitation of poems by Urdu poets. This devoted and talented bunch knows well that 'gaysoo-e Urdu abhi minnat pazir-e-shaana hai' and is positively responding to the challenge with offering courses in learning Urdu, which is the only way to keep Urdu alive and well in North America. That is the way to prepare the next generations to understand Urdu poetry and cherish Urdu Mushaira."
In his editorial note highlighting the award ceremony and mushaira in the souvenir brought out on the occasion, Irfan reiterates the raison d’et re of  the Urdu Writers Society: to foster the cause of Urdu in North America.  Over the years, the objective has steadfastly maintained its momentum. But the going has been difficult. "Aap sab mujh se yaqeenan ittefaq karen gae  keh zameen ka aek aesa khitta jahan Urdu kae wasail kam haen, masail ziyada haen wahan agar koi shaks apni zati mafad ko balae taq rakh kar zaban ki taraqqi aur tarweej kae leae aek qadam bhi chale to us ki pazeerai lazmi tor par hona chayae … Koi bhi tanzeem, khas kar adbi tanzeem, apne maqasid maen us waqt kamyab nahin ho sakti ke jab tak aap jese mukhayyar khwateen aur hazrat tanzeem ke arakeen ke sath shana bashana na chalaen ..." True. 

Indisputably, the Urdu Writers Society of North America, Inc. deserves the wholehearted support of the community.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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