More than half a dozen poets from South Asia and United States attend the Aligarh Alumni Association mushaira.
“Urdu is a language that binds people of the Subcontinent encompassing all religions and culture,” said entrepreneur and Urdu lover Sanjiv Saraf addressing the 44th Annual Mushaira organized by the Washington Aligarh Alumni Association in Silver Spring, MD, on November 11.
Saraf, the founder of the Rekhta Foundation, which promotes Urdu literature and culture, was the chief guest at the event, which attracted hundreds of Urdu lovers from the Washington, DC, area and neighboring states.
The Aligarh Alumni Association presented Saraf with an award for his dedicated service to the Urdu language through Rekhta.org, which has digitized copies of more than 30,000 books of Urdu writers and poets and has made them available free of charge on the site.
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Rekhta holds a three-day annual “Jashn-e-Rekhta” in Delhi, which brings more than 30,000 people of all ages to the program.
Saraf, who learned Urdu because of his passion for the language, said he was very hopeful about the future of the language as the majority of the audiences coming to “Jashn-e-Rekhta” is young people between ages 18 and 25 years and they represent all sections of the society.
The Urdu activist told the gathering that Rekhta was working out the details of holding similar programs in various parts of the world, including the United States.
The poets who attended the mushaira this year include Dr. Salman Akhtar, Khushbir Singh Shaad, Dr. Sabiha Saba, Nikhat Iftekhar, Rehman Faris, Qane Ada, Saud Usmani, Hashmat Suhail, Bina Goindi, Dr. Razi Raziuddin and Dr. A. Abdulla.
Shaad, who presided over the event, recalled his earlier participation a few years ago and said it was an honor to be a part of the prestigious gathering on both occasions.
The Aligarh Alumni Association started the annual mushaira more than four decades ago. Today, is the oldest South-Asian cultural event in Washington.
Almost all renowned and stalwart poets from the Subcontinent have participated in the annual event. Every year nearly half a dozen poets from India, Pakistan, and other countries participate in the mushaira.
Speaking about the activities of the Alumni Association, Dr. Rafat Husain, the president of the group, said it had been on the forefront of organizing high-quality literary and cultural activities for more than 40 years.
More than 300 Urdu lovers from the diverse South Asian American community attended the event. “Forty plus years of untiring efforts by our association and support of the community, this Mushaira is now the expression of the common heritage of all Urdu lovers in this area,” Dr. A. Abdullah, who moderated the event, said. “It has become a reference for the introduction of Washington in the Urdu world. Preservation of the prestige of this Mushaira is the responsibility of everyone.”
This year, the organizers made a new beginning by organizing the event in the early afternoon of Sunday instead of the usual evenings. This was appreciated especially by the seasoned mushaira-lovers who have been religiously coming to mushaira for decades.