Do poets need to be politically correct? Delhi's Republic Day Mushaira gives us a hint
The Urdu Academy, along with the Delhi Government held its historic Republic Day Mushaira at the Red Fort of January 12, 2018 - a tradition which has become an essential part of Delhi's art and culture.
Poets from all over the world believe this to be an honour to be called to perform in this Mushaira. The gathering saw well-known 'shayars' - poets like Waseem Barelvi, 94-year old Gulzar Dehlavi, Manzar Bhopali, Nusraj Mehdi and others.
The evening started with a chorus performance arousing a sense of patriotism and ode to the motherland in the crowd of more than 1000 people. What makes this stand out is the fact that the crowd does not only have people who are practitioners of the Urdu language, but also the general masses. The Mushaira was started by the last Mughal emperor and also a poet Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Celebrated poets such as Mohammad Ibrahim Zauq, Mirza Ghalib, Momin, Nawab Mustafa Khan Shefta, and Mufti Sadruddin Aazurda regularly use to grace such assemblies with their poetic performances.
This year's Mushaira was inaugurated by Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia, who spoke at length about Delhi's enriched art and culture and its history of Mushairas especially at the Lal Qila. He also said that the Delhi Government is trying its best to enrich the cultural vibrance of the national capital.
The evening started with politically charged poetry indeed, one or two also took a jibe on the present ruling government with referenced to attacks on the religious minority. The issue of Triple Talaq was also a prominent premise of the performances, however, apart from few performances, the majority focused on evoking a spirit of nationalism in the crowd. The term 'hindustani musalam' were repeated often. What was evident is that no performer wanted to cross the line which could be border-lining religious incorrectness. Even when a certain poetry was meant to cater to specifically the muslim crowd, it was balanced by 'Hindustan', 'Watan' or 'Jawan' at the end.
The night also saw poets trying to talk about religious harmony through their performances. The message that emanated from the Mushaira was to stop communal violence and merge with one another through are and culture.
How was the Lal Qila Mushaira revived?
Post independence, then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was compelled to start the tradition of Mushaira at the request of Urdu lovers in the capital, which from then became a must in Republic Day Celebrations.
In the beginning, the defence ministry was in charge of conducting event post which the Sahitya Kala Parishad took over the charge in 1968.
However, post independence, the event was not organised on three occasions during the Emergency between 1976 and 1977, after the attack on Red Fort terror in 2011, and in 2016 after the Centre refused to grant permission oweing to security concerns.