Urdu Heritage fest: Qawwali regales audience in Connaught Place’s Central Park
On Friday afternoon, visitors to Connaught Place’s Central Park were in for a pleasant surprise. They may have walked in for a routine stroll with friends or some alone time, but in no time, they were tapping their feet to a qawwali performance.
The six-day Urdu Heritage Festival that began on Thursday has been drawing huge crowds, officials of the Department of Arts, Culture and Languages said. The department has jointly organised the event with Delhi Urdu Academy to celebrate Urdu heritage and culture.
The opening night of the festival saw Ghazal maestro Talat Aziz perform in front of over 1,500 people. The second day of the festival, also called Jashn-e-Virasat-e-Urdu, started with a performance by children of Talent Group Delhi who took the audience down the memory lane by enacting a play called ‘Qissa Bachpan Ke Khelon Ka’.
In the play, the children drew parallels between modern-day computer games, such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush, with the old child plays like tongue twisters, lullabies and rhymes.
“We come to Central Park regularly. But it is rare to walk into an event like this. It was a pleasant surprise indeed,” said a visitor, Pooja, who doesn’t use her last name.
After a 45-minute performance by these children from MCD schools, Sarfaraz Chisti and his group of qawwali singers from Uttar Pradesh took stage. The group regaled the audience with their renditions like ‘Maula Ali’ and ‘Jo Mujh Mein Bolta Hain Mein Nahi Hain” besides instrumental performances on famous songs like ‘Dama Dam Mast Qalander’.
“Generally, when we want to attend such an event, getting tickets is not easy. This function comes for free,” said Suman Sharma who had come with her friends.
Officials said that though the festival has been held in Delhi since 2010, many people did not know about it because it was usually held at the Red Fort lawns. This is the first time that the performances are being staged in the heart of the city. Organisers said the new venue, which is popular and easily accessible by the Metro, was convenient for the regular patrons of the festival as well as attract others to the festival. More than 50 artists, including well-known Urdu poets, Sufi and qawwali singers, are slated to perform at the event.
“Urdu is an integral part of Delhi’s cultural and literary history. It is an important marker of Delhi’s composite culture. We hope to create an environment of harmony and love through such programmes. We want to ensure that Urdu is not only well preserved but it also advances linguistically and socially,” said Delhi’s deputy chief minister and minister of arts, culture and languages, Manish Sisodia, on the inaugural day.
“This celebration of Urdu will bring together all the lovers of Urdu who can enjoy the use of the language in varied forms,” he said.
With the shifting of the venue and restructuring of the programme, the Urdu Academy is expecting more than 2,000 guests every day. “Not more than 1,000 people would attend the event till last year,” an official said. The festival will conclude on February 20 with a mushaira (poetic symposium) in which famous Urdu poets such as Rahat Indori, Mahtab Haider Naqvi and Nikhat Amrohi are slated to participate.