Kashmir’s poets take mushairas online amid Covid-19 lockdown
Since March, not a single big gathering of poets has been organised in Jammu and Kashmir or any other part of the country, depriving poets and intellectuals of the opportunity to meet and recite their latest poems.Updated: Jun 02, 2020 17:54 IST
Many poets in Jammu and Kashmir have used their free time amid the Covid-19 lockdown to pen verses and turned to social media to organise virtual poetry sessions, and cultural organisations believe this could become the new norm till the disease fades away.
Since March, not a single big gathering of poets has been organised in Jammu and Kashmir or any other part of the country, depriving poets and intellectuals of the opportunity to meet and recite their latest poems before an audience.
But now poets and cultural organisations are using social media to arrange virtual mushairas or symposiums. Muneer Raqib, Jammu and Kashmir’s secretary for art, culture and language, said the local academy for art, culture and languages started the trend and he hoped this would be replicated across the country.
“We have organised six full-fledged mushairas, sessions for songs, skits and magic shows, and plan to have similar activities in the near future,” he said.
The academy started with online sessions of songs in different languages, and poets then requested that online mushairas be arranged. This was done along with several cultural organisations of Kashmir, he said.
“From the past one year, the academy had plans to switch over to online and virtual sessions to reach a larger audience, especially among youngsters. The Covid-19 gave us an opportunity. We have asked people to use our facilities or help to reach their target audience,” Raqib said.
Two days ago, one of the oldest cultural organisations in Jammu and Kashmir, the Rafiabad Adbi Markaz, joined hands with the Academy of Art, Culture and Languages for a long online poetic symposium that was joined by more than 17 poets.
Mohammad Ashraf Tak, chief editor of the academy, said local literary organisations played a key role in making the online platform a great success at a time when such activities have been curtailed by the Covid-19 crisis. “This is just the beginning and more programmes and projects are in the offing,” he said.
The verses and compositions of some of the poets and writers were inspired by the Coronavirus and its deadly impact on day-to-day activities.
“These online sessions have attracted good audiences and people have liked this very much. For us, it is lockdown literature. We have done two so far and it’s just the beginning,” said Rafiq Masoodi, who served as secretary of the academy for several years.
Many poets are now regularly uploading their latest poems in English, Urdu, Hindi and Kashmiri on social media and some have written long verses on the pandemic as they try to give the people hope that it won’t last long.
However, Tajamul, one of the participants in an online mushaira, said: “It’s not easy to conduct a mushaira on 2G connection, and despite the slow internet speed, we completed it. For us, this mushaira was an act of resilience.”
Authorities snapped internet connectivity across Kashmir after the erstwhile state’s special status was scrapped last August. Recently, 2G connectivity was restored in the region but there have been numerous complaints about the slow speeds.
Athar Bashir, a young poet well versed with social media, said the Covid-19 lockdown has given a fillip to poets to write about recent happenings.
“Through social media, we can share our literary creations to a cross-section of society and it’s encouraging when they reach a large audience, especially among the younger generation who are hooked to social media. Also, it helps us to maintain social distancing and poets are not at risk of being infected by the Coronavirus,” he said.