Washington Aligarh Alumni Organizes 39th Annual International Mushaira and Sir Syed Day Lecture
By Dr Zafar Iqbal
Urdu might be considered ‘a new kid on the block’ in comparison to other languages, but it has captured the hearts and minds of Urdu-speaking masses throughout the world, including here in the United States. Urdu poetry has a vast canvas; its poets have expressed their thoughts on almost all topics and walks of life, especially the current events. For artistic expression, there is no better place than a mushaira, where poets like to share their poetic creations with the audience.
The Washington Aligarh Alumni Association is credited with the institution of the mushaira tradition in North America. Although it is organized by the Association, it has become a hallmark event, as the entire Washington metropolitan area community has adopted the event as its own. People eagerly await this annual event. “Traditions establish by continuity and flourish in unity”, said Dr Abdullah, who conducted the session, in his opening remarks. The Association provided the continuity and the Washington community provided the unity, he added. He remarked that for the continued success of this program, the credit goes to AAA volunteers who adopted this objective as a mission, to the poets for their cooperation, and to the audience for their patronage in spite of the association's shortcomings.
The 39th Annual Mushaira was held on Saturday, 28 thSeptember 2013 at the impressive auditorium of Montgomery County High School in Silver Spring, MD. More than 500 Urdu connoisseurs from Washington, its suburbs and neighboring states came to listen to their favorite poets from Pakistan, India, and North America.
The formal proceedings started with an invocation followed by a welcome address by the president of the association, Dr Razi Raziuddin, who apprised the audience of the recent activities of the association, especially the success of the scholarship program for needy children at different academic levels in Aligarh and many other parts of India. This portion of the program ended with a rendition of the famous Aligarh Tarana, “Yeh Mera Chaman Hai”. A number of senior Algarians joined the team to sing the Tarana.
The participating poets were very impressed with the quality of poetry they heard at the mushaira and the response it generated from the audience. They said that a mushaira is successful when poets, poetry, audience, and the nizamat interact in a synchronous manner. All these factors blended superbly, making the mushaira a great success. Officer bearers and members of all major literary and cultural associations, such the Hyderabad Association of Metro Washington Area, the Association of Indian Muslims, The University of Karachi Alumni Association, India Cultural Coordination Committee, and National Council of Associations of Indians in America. A number of experienced mushaira-goers expressed their sentiments about the mushaira. A majority of them were of the view that “this mushaira was bey-missal.” Following are some of the comments expressed by them:
Dr Navin Shah, a senior physician in the area, expressed "heartfelt thanks for providing an exceptionally memorable program." Umesh Agnihotri, a well-known literary and theater personality, described it as a "powerful event, thoroughly enjoyed it." Fathul Azam - a 1950 engineering graduate of AMU - extended his stay to attend the program organized by his fellow Alumni and "enjoyed the quality of poetry". "Wonderful job to keep Urdu alive," said another alumnus Parveen Husain. Zaheer Parvez, a senior scientist and poet, said, "I admire the zeal of the AAA members for providing the much needed socio-cultural and literary events to nurture the intellectual curiosity of the community."
"We heard compositions that were so lofty in idealism, revolutionary, and also pertaining to practical day-to-day life in very chaste Urdu," said noted singer Anshu Sharma. Habib Bajwa, president of Mid-Atlantic Association for Literature Appreciation (MAALA), said that members and friends of the association were very happy to be present at these events that were excellent.
The credit of this successful Mushaira goes to the participating poets, who recited their soul-touching and emotionally-laden poetry with demands to repeat from the excited audience. The poets included such luminaries as Professor Pirzada Qasim, Professor Waseem Barelvi, Dr Nikhat Iftikhar, Zahid Fakhri, Farhat Shahzad, Dr Sabiha Saba, Fayyazuddin Saib, Rafiuddin Raaz, Dr A. Abdullah, and Dr Razi Raziuddin.
Samples of poetry recited at the mushaira:
Yeh mere log haiN, meri fiza hai, main nahiN hooN
Agar yeh sab haiN to kis ne kaha hai main nahin hooN
Akele hoN to kaisi mahfiloN ki yaad aati hai
Magatr Mahfil main jate hain to tanhaee sataati hai
Koi rishta bana kar mutmaeen hon nahiN sakta
Muhabbat aakhri dam tak taaluq azmati hai
Thake haari parindeN jab baserey ke liye lauteiN
Saleeqa mand shakoN ka lachak jaan zaroori hai
Mujhe manzil mile kaise ki manzil khud bhaTakti hai
Wahi gardish meiN rahte haiN jinhen mahwar banati hooN
Tumhara zikr karti hooN meiN hare k shair meiN apne
Main ek paththar ki moorat kaanch ke under banati hooN
Mein qatl hokar bhi zinda hooN tum ko hairat hai
TumheN khabar hi nahiN sach mara nahiN karta
Ghar ki taqseem se hal koi nahiN nikle gaa
Masley aur khaRe hote haiN deevar ke saath
Jo taaq meiN hai farozaan use pata kiya hai
Chiragh-e-raah se poochhe koi hawa kiya hai
Zamin se door-iye-afalk naapne waley
Tere wajood se khud tera faasla kiya hai
Wo mila to sadiyoN ke baad bhi mere lab pe koi gila na tha
Use meri chup ne rula diya jise guftugo meiN kamaal tha
JuN juN badan ke under chholeN hilti jaati haiN
Sahuhar auur begum ki shakleiN milti aati haiN
Jisko piyara ho bharam apni anaa ka, sun le
Aaj gar ghar ese nikalna to use roo aana
Muntazar koi nahiN, koi nahiN, koi nahiN
Phirbhi Shazaad kisi roz watan ho aana
Aesi weeran to nahiN hai abaadi-e-ishq
Naj abaad kiye haiN gham-e-janaN waley
She also recited a poem in memory of Farman Fatehpuri, who passed away recently.
Next day, Sunday, 29 th September 2013, the association hosted Sir Syed Day Memorial Lecture by Dr Salman Akhtar, professor of psychiatry at a prestigious medical college in Philadelphia. His more than 300 publications include 60 authored or edited books in psychiatry and psychoanalysis. He has been the recipient of many awards and prizes and is an internationally-sought speaker. In addition to his medical profession, he is keenly interested in poetry. He has published several books comprising collection of his poetry in Urdu and English. He fluently talked about poetry and dreams comparing poet’s rendition of dream and psychoanalyst’s analysis of dreams. He weaved together a narrative that was quite fascinating. This is a totally new field of inquiry and he seems to be a pioneer in this. The spell-bound audience admired his capacity to give an hour-long lecture without any notes and all the poetical examples came from his memory. The association honored Salman Akhtar with a Sir Syed Ahmad Khan Award for his contributions to the study of psychiatry, human behavior and poetry.
The program also included beautiful rendition of poetry of two great poets—Jan Nisar Akhtar and Majaz Lakhnavi—father and maternal uncle of Dr Salman Akhtar, respectively by Anshu Sharma and Nuzaira Azam.
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