Jashn-e-Rekhta: a celebration of Urdu by country’s younger generation

Urdu, which is said to be declining steadily in India after the partition, however now found new love from the country’s younger generation. The fourth edition of “Jashn-e-Rekhta” saw an eclectic mix of literary discussions and joyous sessions.

The festival kicked off at Delhi’s Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on cold evening of 8th December and ended on a musical note with a qawwali performance by Nizami Bandhu of Rockstar fame on Sunday.

The three-day witnessed timeless glory and spirit of Urdu through multiple panel discussions, music and dance performances, open poetry recitation, mushairas, ghazal sarai and dastangoi sessions, calligraphy workshops, film screenings, book launches and live music performances.

The enchantment of the language compelled 59 year old businessman and cultural entrepreneur, Sanjiv Saraf to launch Rekhta.org website in January 2013, which has huge archive of the Urdu literature in Roman as well as Devanagari scripts. He started Jashn-e-Rekhta, the festival later in 2015.

Rekhta is one of the earlier names of Urdu. Literally, it stands for blending or amalgamation. Since Urdu came into being as a result of the blending of many languages such as Persian, Hindi, Turki, Braj, Gujri and Awadhi, it was called Rekhta, explains Saraf.

The fourth edition of festival was inaugrated with Pandit Jasraj and Waheeda Rehman’s speeches and musical performance by Ustad Rashid Khan. During performance the lights went off for few minutes but the enchanting voice of Ustad Rashid sahib kept the audience in Trans, who then switched on their cell phone lights which made the scenario even more colorful.

Second day morning sessions started with Sadaa e Faqeer, soulful Sufi renditions by Madan Gopal Singh and Chaar Yaar and various performances in different musical formats. The afternoon session saw Shubha Mudgal singing poetry of protest and dissent of Faiz, Kaifi Azmi and others, narrated by Sohail Hashmi.

Mirza Ghalib passionate grief for his beloved Nawabjan named “The Courtesan Project” was enacted by Manjari Chaturvedi through Darbari Kathak and narrated by Neelesh Misra in early evening. Around the same time, Parvaaz, a contemporary music band from Bangalore presented fusion of rock and Urdu in an open area.


Prof Gopi Chand Narang talked about mythology’s presence in Urdu poetry in the afternoon session. Prof Harbans Mukhia with Prof Rizwan Qaiser explored Medieval India, much discussed in recent times. Noted Urdu poet, Gulzar Dehalvi had a session with Farhat Ehsas about ‘afsana’, an art of story in the late afternoon session.

The final day saw celebrities from Bollywood indulged in different sessions throughout the day. Javed Akhtar in conversation with Atika Ahmad Farooqui had informal discussion on ishq and zindagi and talked about his general experiences with cinema in India and how it has evolved over the years. Shabana Azmi, Muzaffar Ali and Waheeda Rehman discussed the Muslim social films and the depiction of Urdu culture in them.

Morning sessions started with various forms of Poetry which is inseparable from Urdu and enthralled the audience. The day ended with well-known Urdu poets’ Mushaira, like Shamim Abbas, Shariq Kaifi, Rahat Indori, Javed Akhtar and others.

The underlying theme at Jashn-e-Rekhta has always been to emphasize on the ‘Indiannes’ of Urdu. One hopes that such endeavours will not only continue but also multiply so that other places than Delhi can also be part of this cultural treat.