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3-day carnival begins in Delhi to celebrate Ghalib's 220th birth anniversary: Few "remember" great poet's legacy

By Our Representative
At a time when people appear to have forgotten Mirza Ghalib, to celebrate the 220th anniversary of the great poet, which would fall on December 27, a three-day programme was organized under the leadership of renowned Kathak dancer Uma Sharma and other eminent citizens, starting with candle light march on December 24 in Delhi.
Sponsored by the Ghalib Memorial Movement, the candle march began at the Town Hall, Chandni Chowk in the old Delhi walled city area of to his Gali Qasimjan haveli.
Apart from Kathak maestro and Ghalib lover Uma Sharma, others who participated in the march included educationist Ashok Pratap Singh, heritage activist Firoz Bakht Ahmed, bureaucrat Suresh Goel, diplomat Dr Madhup Mohta, Delhi government Mohalla clinic health in charge Dr Nimmi Rastogi, vocalist Ustad Iqbal Ahmad Khan of Dilli Gharana, and actor Badrudduja Siddiqui Najmi.
The three day carnival, “Ghalib”, would continue on 28 and 29. Ghalib was born on December 27, 1797.
One of the participants said, all through the vintage selling street of Chandni Chowk, one became nostalgic witnessing the attarwalas (perfume sprayers), pankhewalas (fan holders), mashals (torches), nagadas (huge trumpets), huqqas (old smoking system) and pandaans (betel leaf boxes). The nafeeri and tasha (musical instruments of the Mughal era) artistes gaily accompanied the procession to Ghalib’s house at Gali Qasimjan.
At the haveli, while paying homage, Uma Sharma narrated how the struggle to restore Ghalib mansion was begun by activist Firoz Bakht with the help of the Ghalib Memorial Movement two decades ago — a time that she started visiting and conducting programmes at the Ghalib haveli. Uma Sharma praised the efforts of Manish Sisodia, Delhi’s deputy chief minister, and Vineet Palliwal for helping her ideas take concrete shape.
Suresh Verma stated that the glorious thing about Ghalib is that his poetry never fitted into watertight compartments because his world in the ghazals was too vast and too contradictory.
Participants in the Ghalib carnival
Ashok Pratap Singh said that Ghalib’s poetry is unique, not only for the intensity of feelings but also for the exquisite charm and profound thoughts that are part of his beautiful world and that the government must help artists like Uma Sharma who are trying to revive poets like Ghalib.
Bakht opined that poetry is a dying art and the children of this era do not know who Ghalib is and, therefore, the Government of Delhi must make it a point to take Ghalib to schools for the heritage tours to his Gali Qasimjan haveli. Besides, he emphasized that the Haveli-e-Ghalib, instead of being a dead monument, must be a living one by starting a reading room and an evening session to begin Urdu computer classes here so that the local community benefits.
“Apart from that information booklets on Ghalib, his picture postcards too must be availed, the responsibility of which should be of one of the Urdu platforms that are the nodal agencies of the Delhi government like Urdu Academy, National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language etc.”, Bakht said.
Madhup Mohta, poet and diplomat, stated that Ghalib’s name was misused for vested interests, but nobody bothered about preserving his mansion or poetry.
The haveli became crowded as ordinary people poured in to listen to prominent citizens on what was being done to restore the memory of Ghalib. Badrudduja, who is also a resident near Ghalib’s mansion, lamented that the great poet is rarely remembered except on his birthday. "The haveli is engulfed in darkness for rest of the 364 days", he said.
The commemoration completed with Farid Ahmed Khan’s ghazals on Ghalib. After that, a programme was conducted at Kucha Pati Ram’s Dharampura Haveli. Dr Nimmi Rastogi was of the view that the need of the hour was to convert Ghalib’s haveli into a cultural centre and that she would put forth the proposal before Sisodia.
A mushaira (poetic gathering) for the connoisseurs of Urdu poetry will be held on December 28, 2017, the participation of poets like, Gulzar Dehlvi, Manzar Bhopali, Nawaz Deobandi, Khushbir Singh Shad, Kunwar Ranjeet Singh Chauhan, Nashtar Amrohvi, Moin Shadab, Shariq Kaifi, Sharf Nanparvi, Alok Shristava and Qaisar Khalid.
On the third day of the “Ghalib” carnival, the main attraction will include Uma Sharma’s unique ballet at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, Lodi Road, December 29, 2017 at 6:30 pm. Before this, Radhika Chopra, the celebrated ghazal singer, will enthuse Ghalib lovers with her melodious voice.

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