Sunday, August 30, 2009
The Aligarh Alumni Association of New England (AAANE) organized the 6th Sir Syed International Mushaira on 25th November, 2006 at the Burlington Middle School, in Burlington, MA. The excellent turnout coupled with the wonderful “shairi” from renowned poets from India, Pakistan and North America made the Mushaira a tremendous success.
The Aligarh Alumni Associations formed by AMU alumni all over the world celebrate Sir Syed Day with great enthusiasm. In USA, this annual tradition has been kept alive since 1982, when the Washington Chapter initiated the first Aligarh Mushaira. Then, a handful of students got together and invited a few select poets from within America and overseas, especially India, and arranged the “Nashisht” or “gathering” at a much smaller scale.
At the “Boston Mushaira”, Manzar Bhopali, Khushbir Singh “Shaad”and Popular Meeruthi came from India, Rehana Roohi and Jazib Qureshi from Pakistan, Javid Khan and Sarvar Iqbal from Boston, Dr. Shehla Naqvi, Raees Warsi and Nadeem from New York and Dr. Abdullah from Washington D.C.,
The program started with a one liner - “Welcome to the Mushaira” by a group of young shy and not-so-shy kids ranging from six to sixteen years.
Dr. Syed Masarrat Ali, President of AAANE, gave a flowery welcome address in Urdu, highlighted the various Programs and projects of AAANE, and thanked the audience, poets, sponsors and volunteers. He then handed the podium to Dr. Abdullah to conduct the program. Formally the Mushaira got its start by its traditional “humd” recitation by Dr. Nasim Hines of Harvard University. Amidst applause from the audience, the poets were called on the stage. Prof. Surriya Husain, a retired Professor and ex-Chairperson, Department of Urdu, Aligarh Muslim University, who has also written umpteen books among others on Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Women’s Education at AMU etc., was invited onto the stage and gracefully accepted its “Sadarat” which is typically done by the senior most Aligarian or poet present.
This year’s theme for the Mushaira was “Unity in Diversity”. There were two 90 minute sessions and each poet was initially called for 5-8 minutes. All had a chance to present their ‘Nazms, Ghazals, Geets, etc. This was followed by a 15 minutes intermission and then the second round followed.
Humayun Nadeem from New York came up with some very hilarious shairi, like
Chalo E baar dhoka aur Khaa lo, Chalo uspar bharosa aur kar lo..
Dr. Shehla Naqvi came up with some thought provoking couplets, some on the Earthquakes in Kashmir and its aftermath. One of her favorites on the suppression of woman was particularly well received,
Main Sadiyon Se Is Misr ke bazaar mein hooN…
Khushbir Singh Shaad, a great poet from Lucknow, the seat of poetry and nawabi culture, who was invited for the first time in North America by AAANE, pleasantly surprised the audience with his touching couplets on day to day issues on life and politics. Some of his famous couplets were;
Magar Sahil par tooti kashtiyaaN kuch aur kahti hain;
Hum Ahle Shahr Ki Khwahish ke miljul kar raheN lekin,
Ameer-e shahar ki dilchaspian Kuch aur kahti haiN.
Popular Meeruthi, a name which evokes fun Urdu poetry, followed with his usual light and hilarious shairi, on love, romance, youth, politics etc. His expertise lies in molding Urdu couplets by famous poets into well meaning, jovial expressions, like
Toh aarzo mein kat gaye, toh Intizaar mein.
Rehana Roohi the bold Urdu poet, who openly takes up women’s issues and rights, was very well received by both sexes. Her clear voice, ease of expression and mixing of various dialects of Urdu, Sindhi, and Punjabi in her “shairi” was fabulous. One of her light couplets which comes to mind was
HaaN, Jaise Hamaara Khwaab thah, waisa nahiN hai Woh
Manzar Bhopali, a famed poet, widely traveled into the Middle east, Australia, and often seen in US Mushairas since 1991 spoke eloquently and presented most of his Shairi deeply inspired by politics and the day-to-day problems of the Middle Class, in a very melodious voice. He also presented a Geet on Hindu-Muslim unity. One of his well-known bold couplets goes as such,
Woh Sadi Tumhari Thee, yeh Sadi hamair hai.
After another round of some serious and not so serious poetry, the program ended at around midnight.
People were very happy with the Mushaira and some commented aloud, that this was a great Mushaira organized in Boston after many years.
THE Mushaira was such a hit that the net day another dinner Nashisht was organized for all the poets at the residence of Dr. Zafr Siddiqui in Marlborough.
In her closing remarks, Prof Surriya Hussain, denounced the notion that Urdu is a language of any particular religion. She traced the origin of Urdu language and said that this Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb is very prevalent in India and draws heavily from many languages and dialects, including Hindi, English, Sanskrit, Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Punjabi, Sindhi, Gujrati, etc. She hoped that this trend will continue and we will enjoy its richness, beauty and soft expressions.
Dr. Ashraf Khan, one of the founders of AAANE and Ali Rizvi, a volunteer for this year’s Mushaira said that AAANE had reached out to the various area organizations, like Indian Association of Greater Boston, (IAGB), Pakistan Association of Greater Boston (PAGB), Indian Medical Association of New England (IMANE), Association of Pakistani Physicians of New England (APPNE), Indian Association of New Hampshire, Museum of Fine Arts and the Muhammad Jafri Foundation who had fully cooperated and supported the Mushaira. The event was also promoted and sponsored by Lokvani, which has been playing a truly significant role in building bonds and keeping the community abreast of the programs and events in the ever-growing South Asian community in New England. Without their active support, this program would not have been so successful.
Said Ali Rizvi, “the Mushairas play a significant role in the propagation of the art of urdu poetry. People, who understand Hindustani, truly appreciate the content and the issues that are expressed in these gatherings. While there are many cultural events, Mushairas are more like literary functions and need to be promoted. For a place like Boston, with so many educational institutions of international repute, and a literary atmosphere, the Mushairas are undoubtedly very well received. To get more information or joining AAANE, please visit their web site, WWW.AAANE.US.NET.
A colorful Magazine was also released on the occasion. Apart from the advertisements, it had some juicy tit-bits and articles on Aligarh Univeristy, Women’s education at AMU and a write up on this year’s poets.
Among other things, the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations (www.aligs.org) is also helping other philanthropic organizations to develop infrastructure of education at primary and secondary levels of education in India.
The Aligarh Alumni Association of New England, AAANE is a not-for-profit, secular, non-political and non-sectarian organization which consists of alumni and their friends from both India and Pakistan and provides an ideal forum for people to build bridges and network. The Aligarh Muslim University was conceptualized in Mohammedan Anglo Indian College in 1875 by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), a great Indian visionary and educationist. It achieved university status in 1920.
The Aligarh Mushaira tradition has come a long long way since then. There are nearly 18 Aligarh Alumni Associations spread over the major metropolis areas in North America that arrange Mushairas, namely, Atlanta (Georgia), Boston, (Massachusetts), Chicago (Illinois), Cleveland (Ohio), New York (New York), Washington D.C., Little Rock (Arkansas), Houston and San Antonio (Texas), Los Angeles and San Francisco (California) and Salt lake City (Utah). As more and more “chapters” join the list, the various alumni associations now coordinate their events via the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations.
Thanks to AAANE, the office bearers and the volunteers for the excellent program.
Syed Masarrrat Ali - President
Mohammed Khalid - Vice President
Tariq Haq - Secretary
Dr. Deeba Husain - Member Executive Committee.