Urdu (उर्दू) was considered a language of elders of the pre-partition era, wearing white kurtas and conical caps and was signed off on the verge of extinction. However, the Jashn-e-Rekhta (जश्न-ए-रेख़्ता) (Celebration of Urdu Language) festival – a tribute to its linguistic heritage and unwavering spirit, held in New Delhi on February 12-14, 2016 – shattered that myth for good. With online registrations crossing more than the 50,000 mark, the international festival spread over the lawns of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and saw a euphoric audience falling in the age group varying from a 7-year-old child to a 70-year-old senior.
This event was first organized in 2015. This year, it has won accolades for bringing together eminent personalities from India and Pakistan, namely Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Tom Alter, Javed Siddiqi, Imtiaz Ali, Zehra Nigah, Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, and Anwar Maqsood. The cultural highlights were Qawwali by Sabri Brothers, ghazals by Tina Sani of Pakistan, and theatre plays Kaifi aur Main, Ghalib Ke Khat and Dara Shikoh.
A dedicated ‘Children’s Corner’ had the audience enthralled with Alice in Wonderland being retold in the Urdu language. It also marked the centenary celebration of major authors like Ismat Chugtai, Rajinder Singh Bedi and Akhtar ul Iman, along with paying a humble tribute to Nida Fazli and Intizar Hussain. Magic was created through discussions on legendary poets like Mir and Manto; Dastangoi (an effort to revive the ancient art form of oral storytelling lost for 70 years – minimalistic, relying heavily on Dastangos for rhyme scenes, witty mannerisms and gesticulations); book launches by reputed scholars; Baitbaazi (Urdu Poetry Competition); Grand Mushaira; and a film screening of the Indian epic Mughal-E-Azam, slowly weaving its way and creating its mark in the hearts of the vibrant, participative crowd. The calligraphy workshop was organized by Qamar Dagar, and one could get their name inscribed in the Persian script for free. For food lovers, there was a delectable array of Awadhi, Kashmiri, Hyderabadi, Sindhi, and Banjaara cuisine, with simmering varieties of teas served alongside to keep you warm in Delhi winters. One could also pick books from Urdu Bazaar, artifacts, film posters, rare gramophone records and an Ittar (concentrated perfume) collection.
Rekhta Foundation is headed by Sanjiv Saraf, and it’s also his brainchild. It is the largest free online repository, a treasure trove of Urdu poetry available in Roman and Devanagari scripts with over 12,000 Ghazals (rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter) and Nazms (a significant genre of Urdu language in rhymed verse and modern prose style, with the title holding the central theme) of over 1,200 poets, over the last three centuries. Added features include poetic compositions recorded in the voice of poets and professionals and a built-in glossary providing meaning and pronunciation of the word at a click. They are working on digitizing rare and popular books for their preservation for posterity.
To sum it up, the Hindustani language, which has found a home in Pakistan and has its roots embedded in India, has carved a niche for itself globally. A heartfelt Nazm by Gulzar Sahab (filmmaker, lyricist and fiction writer famous for his tele-serial on Mirza Ghalib and a recipient of Sahitya Academy and Dada Sahab Phalke award) is icing on the cake:
यह कैसा इश्क़ है उर्दू ज़बाँ का
मज़ा घुलता है लफ़्ज़ों का ज़बाँ पर
कि जैसे पान में महंगा किमाम घुलता है
यह कैसा इश्क़ है उर्दू ज़बाँ का….
नशा आता है उर्दू बोलने में
गिलौरी कि तरह है मुँह लगी सब इस्तलाहें,
लुत्फ़ देती है, हलक छूती है उर्दू तो, हलक से जैसे मय का घोंट उतरता है
बड़ी अरिस्टोक्रैसी है ज़बाँ में
फकीरी में नवाबी का मज़ा देती है उर्दू
अगरचे महनी काम होते है उर्दू में
अलफ़ाज़ की इफरात होती है
मगर फिर भी, बुलंद आवाज़ पढ़िए तो बहुत ही मोतबर लगती है बातें
कहीं कुछ दूर से कानों में पड़ती है अगर उर्दू
तो लगता है की दिन जादू के हैं, खिड़की खुली है, धूप अंदर आ रही है
अजब है यह ज़बाँ, उर्दू
कभी कहीं सफर करते, अगर कोई मुसाफिर शेर पढ़ दे ‘मीर’, ‘ग़ालिब’ का
वह चाहे अजनबी हो, यही लगता है वो मेरे वतन का है
बड़ी शाइस्ता लहजे में किसी से उर्दू सुनकर
क्या नहीं लगता की एक तहज़ीब की आवाज़ है, उर्दू