Awan-e-Urdu Florida Holds Musical-cum-Literary Evening
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

I am a regular participant in the Urdu Academy of North America literary program which is held every month at the Silicon Valley's popular Chandni Restaurant which has now become a hub of South Asian cultural and social events.

This month I missed the program because of my visit to Orlando. However, I believe I did not miss much. I was happy to know that in Orlando too the Urdu enthusiasts have established an organization to promote the cause of the language. The organization, known as Awan-e-Urdu, holds literary programs every month. I was invited to attend Awan-e-Urdu's monthly literary-cum-musical evening which was held on July 7. The event attracted Urdu enthusiasts from Orlando and nearby towns.

The literary evening had two sessions. The first session was devoted to a Mushaera. Three saheb-e-deewan poets, Zulfiqar Agha, Dr. Arif Zaheer Siddiqui and Sheikh Ijaz Ahmed thrilled the audience with their poetry.

Zulfiqar Agha's poetry collection, "Awaz-e Pazeb-e Hina” was published in 2009; Dr. Arif Zaheer Siddiqui published his first poetry collection, "Mohabbat Kee Dunya Meri Sha'eri,“ in 2005; and Sheikh Ijaz Ahmad published his first poetry collection ," Durr-e-Ijaz," in  2008.

Ajaz Malik amused the audience with his presentation of Naat in his melodious voice. Zulfiqar Agha also presented a hamd-cum-naat composition.


Musical renditions

It is said that music is the medicine of the mind and poetry is the music of the soul. Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life and poetry is said to be all that is worth remembering in life. To borrow Laura Simoes, what poetry and music do to the mind must only be experienced, and such experience is complacent to not only transcend entertainment, rather acquiesce the listener to substantiate a state of wholeness … in mind and body.

Perhaps this correlation between music and poetry, prompted the Awan-e-Urdu leadership to hold a unique music-cum-literary event as the second part of the evening was devoted to musical renditions by popular local artists.

At the outset, Mrs. Gulnaz Mukhtar thrilled the audience with her melodious voice. She presented a number of old film songs to draw wide applause. She was followed by Usman Sidat who captivated the audience with his singing style of Mehdi Hasan. His presentations refreshed the memories of the great sub-continent singer who left us recently for his eternal abode.

Dr. Arif Zaheer Siddiqui and Sarfraz Habibi also delighted the audience with their singing skills.

Chief guest of the evening, Latif Kasu, stirred the audience with his presentations of geets and ghazals. Besides singing, Latif Kasu is also a talented poet. He impressed the audience by singing his own ghazals.

Nadim Faruqui, the host of the event, is not only an excellent singer but also a fantabulous harmonium player. He presented songs in his own compositions. Faruqui was joined on tabla by an experienced tabla player, Riaz.

Ahmed Faruqui, son of Nadim Faruqui stole the show with his concert style presentations. He captivated the audience with a number of popular songs.

Ahmed Tanhaa, President of the Awan-e-Urdu, thanked the hosts, Mr Nadim Faruqui and Mrs Farah Faruqui, for their hospitality and the sumptuous dinner served on the occasion.

Adab-o-Saqafat International

Another interesting feature of this literary-cum-musical evening was the unveiling of the latest issue of a literary magazine, Adab-o-Saqafat International, published by an organization of the same name. The yearly magazine is edited by two sahib-diwan poets, Shakeel Sarosh and Sheikh Ijaz. Interestingly, Sheikh Ijaz travelled from Palm Beach, FL, to attend the event.

The latest issue of Adab-o-Saqafat International is dedicated to a prominent Pakistani poet Bedil Haidri. Sheikh Ijaz said that the magazine is distributed free of cost to Urdu lovers and “we are trying to publish it bi-yearly.” The magazine endeavours to maintain a high literary standard in choosing its material.

The current issue of the Adab-o-Saqafat International has four sections: literary criticism, poems, short stories and ghazals. Ghazals of 45 poets are included in an alphabetical order. I was delighted to know at least one of the ghazal poets, Baqi Ahmedpuri, included in the magazine. I know Baqi from Kuwait where I spent more than three decades in the print and electronic media.

Halqa-e-Adab-o-Saqafat plans to publish a collection of ghazals of the Urdu poets in diaspora. The title of the collection will be Urdu Ghazal. All Urdu diaspora poets are invited to submit their ghazals to Shakeel Sarosh (through email: ). Milwaukee-based Sarosh may be contacted on phone: 414-350-5594.

Awan-e-Urdu inaugurates five poetry books

The Awan-e-Urdu was established in 2004 and officially incorporated in March 2005 as a non-profit corporation. According to Ahmed Tanhaa, the primary goal of Awan-e-Urdu is to promote Urdu literature and to preserve Indo-Pak culture in Florida. Urdu is the fourth major world language which is spoken in India, Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries.

Every year Awan-e-Urdu invites poets, writers and artists including singers who travel from other cities and countries, to perform at its events. 


Awan-e-Urdu is the only organization in the entire state of Florida which has published poets and authors among its members, Tahaa pointed out.  “We have launched at least five books of Urdu poets who currently reside or have resided in Central Florida.  Last year we held three book-launching events in Orlando.  The first book-launching event of 2010 was held in January.” 

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