Incredible Poetry Session in Urdu and Hindi Language.
Kavi Sammelan/ Mushaera for peace and Unity
Hall of State at Fair Park, Dallas, Texas.
Friday, October 25, 2013/ 9:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Hon. Kapil Sibal, India's law Minister (Secretary, Department of Justice) was to be the Chief Guest of the event, unfortunately, he was called back in the last minute to stay in New Delhi to handle the national affairs. However, the greatness of the man lay in his response to the need of the day, he realized his absence will embarrass the organizers and the people of Dallas/ Fort Worth. So, he took the time to address the organiser Noor Amrohvi and the audience in a powerful video message with regrets. We the people of Texas appreciate it and honor this gesture of dignity.
In 1996, when we held a big Cricket event and invited the Ambassadors of Common Wealth Nations, and the Ambassador of Australia and New Zealand were bat ready to come and play, but were pulled back due to back home politics. This happens.
The set up was incredible; I have never seen anything like that. It looked like Mughal Shahi Darbar or a Roman Coliseum; Corinthian columns in Gold in the back drop and rows of two white long stretched Sofas that ran across the spectrum of the outdoor arena. It provided a historicity to the samaa (environment).
Jyoti Kumar was pleased with the efforts of her team made up of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians from the subcontinent. From the planning stages to the execution of the program, each one in the team was committed to the unity theme and she is positive about moving forward with the mashaal (torch bearer) of the Unity.
I would encourage Noor Amrohvi, the Chief Organizer to repeat this set next year. Janab DD Maini Saheb suggested that we bring the "Kambals" and enjoy the outdoor program. Tirmizi Saheb said, it happens in UK and Germany. Unfortunately, weather did not permit sitting outside, and instead, the program was carried in the auditorium.
Agar Chandni raat hoti to kya baat hoti!
Every poet was great, but as always a few leave lasting impressions on each one of the audience members. What appeals to you is different than what appeals to me; it is as simple as that. The old saying, beauty is in the heart of the believer remains an eternal truth. I would encourage you to write your impressions in the comment section below, so we have a full range of expressions.
It is not customary to praise a few and skip the others. Indeed, everyone of the poets came prepared to deliver his and her best and they did, when I get the time, I will write a note about all the poets, but for the time being, here are a few mentions.
The biggest hit was Munawwar Rana Saheb, he was everything he was projected to be; one of the best in Urdu/Hindi poetry. Of course, as Noor Amrohvi Saheb said, it’s like "sooraj ko chiragh dikhani wali baat." His style, voice and delivery kept us all sit with full tawajjay (attention) through the very end of the program around 1 AM. His poem Mahajir was just incredible. Indeed, Zia Khan Saheb was sitting two seats from me, it was his story too... they left everything when they went to Peshawar from UP and it is also the story of Maini Saheb, whose family sold their stuff in Lahore for damdies and made it to New Delhi. There was a lot of mention about Allahbad, so I bought his book and CD to share it with my wife whose mother was from Allahabad. I did miss Renu Chandra Saheba, who is also from Allahabad.
I believe it was Sarfaraz Abad Saheb who said, writing poetry is an amazing experience, you can tell so much in just two lines.... sometimes the whole story can be said in a Rubayee - a Qurartet. Poetry is indeed a powerful story telling medium. That was very encouraging to me personally, as I am reviving the poet in me after 35 some years of writing 32 short stories and 43 poems in Urdu/ Hindi, but this time, it will be on social issues and religious and societal pluralism.
Dr. Zubair Farooq's poetry won many hearts - he is an Arab, a medical Doctor serving two hospitals in Dubai but he has learned Urdu and Hindi, and has a passion for the languages, and has written over 24 books. His poetry was simply enjoyable and his Urdu accent was delightful and so was his tarannum (Singing). Of course we all have different accents of Urdu, ranging from Dakkani to Punjabi, Bengali, Malayalee, Bihari, Sindhi, Dogri or Gujarati tones. However the standard bearers of Urdu are speakers from New Delhi, Karachi and Lucknow.
Why does Dr. Farooq have a passion for the language? Munawwar Rana Saheb used a sentence for a different purpose, but fits right in... Columbus ka Khoon! Meaning why did Columbus sail to different lands? Actor Mahmood would have said, "khujli ka jhaad". Indeed, it was his passion - just as each one of us is driven by a different passion. Mine is Pluralism, what is yours? Think about it and make an effort to say in poetry format, you can do it, it is a challenge for you!
Archana Panda Saheba had a powerful message about women and freedom. She shared a story in her poem, about the laanat (curse) of Dowry. How a girl is constantly trained to put up with things, the girl in her narrative tells the Groom off while sitting in the Mandap (wedding altar) to his demands of dowry - and then comes the most sensitive moment where parents would normally scream at the girl for bringing shame to the family... instead, her Mother said she was proud of her for the action, and her father puts his hand around her giving her confidence that she did the right thing. It is a powerful story and I hope to pass on her information to Dallas organizations like Chetna and Muslim Community Center committed to address the domestic violence issues. She will make a good speaker with little training on Domestic Violence.
When I get the time, I will write a note about the other poets.
I also appreciate the team led by Noor Amrohvi, Jyoti Kumar, Irfan Ali, Azhar Bukhari, Anand Punjabi, Javed Gill, Sanjeev Gupta, Mushtaq Raes, Nutan Arora, Rehan Kaiser and others. We should always appreciate the sponsors who believe in the program and make it happen - Jyoti and Ashok Kumar, SK Mittal and several others were big supporters.
Noor Amrohvi Saheb was thorough in appreciating and thanking the poets, volunteers, sponsors and the supporters - he gets 10 for 10 from me.
Please note that in March 2014, we will go for the 2nd Annual Pluralism Mushaira/ Kavi Sammelan, where we are planning to start a new dhar (stream) on poetry with exclusive focus on social, cultural, religious and work place pluralism. Pluralism in one sentence is respecting the otherness of others, and when we do that, conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Kavi Sammelan and Mushaira
AN EVENING FOR PEACE AND UNITY
Chief Guest: Hon. Kapil Sibal, Law Minister, India
Pictures available at this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/sets/72157637070848254/
More will be uploaded this week at the above link.
First of all Congratulations to Noor Amrohvi for organizing the peace Mushaira-Kavi Sammelan in the Hall of State at Fair Park, we need more of these events to build up a momentum for pluralism and building cohesive societies where no human has to live in discomfort, apprehension or fear of the other.
As Americans, the Subcontinentian Americans, or Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepali or Sri Lankan first generation Americans, we are deeply connected to the land where we were born, and it is a natural for us to be tied to her. Indeed, the Mitti, the Bhoomi and the Dirt runs in our veins, after all, we were nurtured and shaped with the water, food and air from that land. It is that deep connection we have with our motherland that beckons us do our share of good as a self-balancing act.
I do want to acknowledge the anguish of the people, who have been uprooted from their homes from Germany, Poland, Vietnam, Palestine, the native peoples and our own Partition. It must be painful for them who went thru the separation. The Law of Karma does not spare any one. The whole world suffers when there is injustice to any, and all of us will pay the price for allowing it to happen.
One of the first persons to pen such sentiment was Bahaddur Shah Zafar, the last mogul king who was exiled to Rangoon – and his ghazal ‘Lagta Nahin hai dil mera, ujde dayaar may” has become an immortal poem of longing for the motherland.
This also reminds me of Indivar’s song from the movie Upkaar,
Es dharti pay jis nay janam liya, us nay hi paya pyaar tera
Yahan apna paraya koi nahi, hai sub pay ma undhar tera
It is this Udhaar (obligation/debt) that makes most of us Subcontientians to remain connected with the motherland. It is an unwritten social contract between Maa and the Beta/Beti. Most of us, the emigrants do our best to fulfill that obligation, while some of us just don't succeed, being caught up in the web of our life.
Living in the United States, we have a new roop- that of Americans, which means the old political lines of India and Pakistan become thinner, and sometimes the divisions look silly. We, the Subcontinentians, find more in common to come together to celebrate poetry in the form of Musical Concerts, Kavi Sammelan, Mushairas and Ghazals. It brings all of us together, particularly the commonality of language and references in the poetry. We feel the same about love to fellow beings and romance.
Poetry is the best way to express our feelings and I am glad this Mushaira is taking places here under the open skies of Texas.
I have a dream, and my dream is shaped by my father's dream. It is a larger dream to include the entire Subcontinent, thanks to America for giving me the broader perspective. I learned that from his attitude towards fellow beings. He dreamt an India where every Indian was respected for who he or she was, as is. He lived that life - the most significant example was the way he treated the then "untouchables" during a period when they were not allowed inside your homes. We always had construction work going, and my mother would serve them tea and food in the same utensils that we used (funny to say this, but that was a no no then) despite the criticism from a few. They had given up on him. My father never treated any one less, nor my mother thought less of any one. I had a great example to follow.
As a social scientist, my contribution would be sharing my motherland's pluralistic heritage with my homeland as a gift to America. By the way, India was one of the first three nations on the earth to recognize American independence in 1776; it was Tippu Sultan, the head of the state of Mysore (Karnataka) along with Morocco and France.
TWO DECADES OF RESEARCH ON PLURALISM
The Asian News Magazine featured the essence of every religion, and the multi-cultural aspect of India and its inclusiveness, the Asian News Radio featured weekly hour dedicated to presenting the essence of religious festivals so we can learn about each other. We also produced more than 500 hours of talk show radio on religion, every beautiful religion, Pundits, Pastors, Imams, Rabbis, Shamans and Religious clergy from each faith joined me daily to share the wisdom of his or her religion, indeed, Atheism and pluralism had its own slot.
For two years we conducted two sets of workshops called Understanding Religion, all the beautiful religions (Atheism was part of the learning). We had a Rabbi, Pastor, Pundit, Imam, Shaman and respective religious ministers joined in presenting a three hour workshop - on each faith. Funds permitting, I hope to recommence the workshops, and create a replicable model. The idea was to demystify the myths about each faith. Two of the most misunderstood faiths are Hinduism and Islam, and we cannot let people rot in mis-information, we have to do our share of the work in creating a better world. Of course, finding the truth is our own individual responsibility.
Each one of us is capable of standing up for others, when we do that; all of us would be safe. We cannot demand peace, when we are not peaceful within, we cannot ask others to be hateful, when we are full of it.
We should not dump our issues onto the next generation, we are conquering the space, we can conquer our prejudices too, that is the greater Jihad (inner struggle) Lord Krishna and Prophet Muhammad had called for. The nation is moving forward despite the issues, and we need to take the initiative and bring closure to them in our life time. They will not go away by burying our heads in the sand.
My father is my hero and opened the doors of wisdom to us. Pluralism indeed runs in my family. He taught us one of the biggest lessons of my life in social cohesiveness and dealing with extremism that I continue to reflect in my talks, acts and write ups.
During the communal riots in Jabalpur (India) in the early sixties, both Muslims and Hindus were killed in the mayhem, as it happens every time. I wish every father in India, America and elsewhere teaches this lesson to his kids. He was crystal clear on his take; He told us the "individuals" are responsible for the bloodshed and not the religions. If we get the guy who started the conflict and punish him for disturbing peace, rather than calling it a religious issue for the communities to jump in and aggravate it further, we would have saved many lives. He would emphasize that you cannot blame the intangible religion and expect justice; we must blame the individuals who caused it and punish them accordingly for disturbing the peace and thus bring a resolution to the conflict by serving justice. He said you cannot annihilate, kill, hang or beat the religion, then why bark at it?
WHAT IS PLURALISM?
Simply put, it is respecting the otherness of the other and accepting the uniqueness of each one of us. In cultural terms, it is recognizing your culture as a beautiful expression of life to you, as my own is to me. In religious terms, it is learning to honor the way your worship or bow to the creator in gratitude, is as divine as my own.
Pluralism is our future, and as a futurist, based on the trends, I foresee, that two generations from now, we would be comfortable in saying, my religion, culture or life style is one of the many choices, and further down the road, a significant number will proclaim that my way of life is not superior or inferior to any.
They will consider ‘claiming superiority’ would be sheer arrogance and religion (a major part of life to many) is believed to imbue humility that builds societies, communities and nations in creating that elusive kingdom of heaven where all of us can live without apprehension or fear of the other.
Patriotism should be defined in terms of what you do to uplift the hopes of people, in terms of education to all, jobs to as many as we can in each successive year, home for every human, and a better life style to every Indian.
Our Motherlands whether it is India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal or Sri Lanka are represented by every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, culture and religion. Collectively, we see God as one, none and many; and in every form; male, female, genderless and non-existent, being and non-being, nameless and with innumerable names.
Collectively, we are Adivasis, Atheists, Baha’is, Bos, Buddhists, Christians, Dalits, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslim, Scheduled casters, Sikhs, Scheduled Tribals, Zoroastrians and every possible grouping. We are Brown, Black, White, Yellow and green with envy, and yet we are one nation and one people and we need to continue to reinforce that oneness.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place and standing up for others as an activist. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him.