After a hiatus of three years, ‘Jashn-e-Rekhta’, the festival celebrating Urdu and “Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb”, began in Delhi on Friday with a stellar lineup of poets, writers, and performers.
The 7th edition of Jashn-e-Rekhta was inaugurated by Sanjeev Saraf, founder of Rekhta Foundation, and poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.
Speaking at the inaugural session, Akhtar said that all the people attending the festival are proof of the beauty and cultural unity of Urdu literature.
The popular poet said that Urdu is a native Indian language and is not spoken anywhere else but India, its people and Pakistanis who were once Indians.
“Urdu is a pure Hindustani language, which is not spoken anywhere, by anyone who isn’t from India, or part of the diaspora, Pakistanis and their children. It is a language of this country. So to think it has been imported is incorrect,” he said.
Akhtar added that it is because Urdu is the language of common people that it has survived even when it didn’t find any patronage.
“If you want to communicate with someone, you have to take words from other languages to make sense to the other person. I am entirely against the idea of a pure language. And Urdu has a twin sister in the form of Hindi. When both languages are combined their vocabulary becomes so vast,” he said.
Spread across three days, with more than 150 artistes, the festival will see ghazals, sufi music, qawwali, dastangoi, panel discussions, mushaira, and poetry recitations.
Saraf paid homage to Urdu stalwarts like Gulzar Dehlvi, Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, and Gopichand Narang who lost their lives to COVID-19 and said that despite facing difficult times people accepted the challenge and showed “great solidarity and strength”.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many hindrances in normal life, due to which the celebration also could not be held after December 2019. However, people accepted the difficult situation as a challenge and showed great solidarity and strength. We invite everyone to come and join this celebration of Indian culture and unity and to make it an unforgettable experience,” he said.
Saraf added that the festival aims to unite “people of different classes through Urdu language, music, art, culture, and its Indian roots”.
The opening evening also witnessed a soulful ghazal session by singer Hariharan who sang popular couplets by the likes of Bashir Badr, Mir Taqi Mir, and Mirza Ghalib.
The poetry and literary festival will see sessions by the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Shailesh Lodha, Dia Mirza, Najeeb Jung, Muzaffar Ali, Anisur Rahman, Khalid Jawed, Sheykhar Ravjiani, and Shephali Frost, among others.