Urdu poetry blurs borders at Shankar-Shad ‘mushaira’


Four poets from Pakistan and India read contemporary Urdu poetry at the 48th Shankar Shad Mushaira in New Delhi in an attempt to further cultural and literary ties between India and Pakistan and raise awareness about Urdu poetry among school children. The poets included ZehraNigah and Fatima Hassan from Pakistan and Anwar Jalalpuri and MalikzadaManzoor Ahmad from India. The Shankar Shad Mushaira, an initiative of the DCM Shriram Group, has been promoting Urdu mushaira as a genre of literature and oral art since 1953 and encouraging poets from India and Pakistan to take part. Urdu poetess ZehraNigah, who lives in Karachi, said Urdu `shayari (poetry)` and `mushaira` have been witnessing a revival in the last decade among the younger generation in both India and Pakistan”. “In Karachi, school and college students often walk up to me with questions about `shayari` and the culture of `mushaira`. I often visit a youth organisation in Karachi, `Second Floor` – dedicated to the promotion of Urdu poetry and `mushaira`- to talk to them about the Urdu literary traditions,” Nigah said. The poetess, who writes contemporary poetry addressing political and social issues, said: “Urdu poetry has changed over the century to become more relevant. But youngsters in Pakistan still want to listen to old poetry by Ghalib, Mir and Kabir Das.” Fatima Hassan, from Pakistan, has been writing Urdu poetry since 1953 and has published three collections of poems. She campaigns for equal rights for women and recognition of women poets through her poetry. “Pakistan has many vocal Urdu poets who write about feminism, freedom, gender, taboos, culture, change and society. Women are gradually coming out of the confines of their homes to write about contemporary issues in their poetry. Earlier, the social system was such that women couldn`t come out,” Hassan said.