Nikalnā ḳhuld se aadam kā sunte aa.e haiñ lekin
bahut be-ābrū ho kar tire kūche se ham nikle
This was the first time I went for Jashn-e-Rekhta, the largest Urdu festival held last week, February 17-19, at IGNCA, in the heart of the national capital Delhi.
Organised by a non-profit organization with the aim of preserving and promoting the rich literary and cultural heritage of Urdu – the festival has been going on for two years. According their website Jashn-e-Rekhta – the 3 day annual festival aims to create the much required awareness and appreciation of a language born and evolved in the Indian sub-continent.
It celebrates the multi-faceted nature of Urdu – its beauty and versatility. The festival explores the different elements and range of emotions as manifested through poetry, prose, drama, art, cinema and popular culture and includes performances, recitations, mushairas, panel discussions, debates, film screenings and exhibitions featuring leading writers, poets, artists, litterateurs, journalists and lyricists from India and abroad.
Based on their experiences of holding two previous editions – the organisers should have known that the crowds will be big and that there should be enough volunteers to guide the visitors.
However, as a first timer, I found the whole festival mismanaged, large crowds, poor security, and lack of amenities, poor sound systems, very expensive bad food and long queues to buy the coupons for food.
Amidst huge crowds as a visitor I was lost as no one really understood what was happening. At least I did not find any signage indicating event in progress. Where you found a crowd that was an indication something is going on. The organisers seemed disinterested in addressing complaints. I overheard two ladies telling one of the several members from the organising team that any complaint should be either be registered online or in a complaint/suggestion book.
Missed the Ghazals, talks, Dastangoi, plays, drama etc. due to bad sound system and lack of information on site. There was hardly any security, though to be fair there was lot of Delhi Police sitting around. Not enough checks.
نکلنا خلد سے آدم کا سنتے آئے ہیں لیکن
بہت بے آبرُو ہو کر ترے کوچے سے ہم نکلے
Large presence of people also meant that the infrastructure was stretched and there was no one to clean the bathrooms, no one to clean out the garbage bins around. Going to such literary events makes one look out for clean environment.
Food was the worst…highly priced and tasting bad. The organisers should have got the street food vendors from Purani Dilli to add to the mood. Overall, very disappointing. If things not get improved in coming festival, we can only recall Ghalib:-
ریختہ کے تم ہی استاد نہیں ہو غالب
کہتے ہیں اگلے زمانے میں کوئی میر بھی تھا
Reḳhte ke tumhīñ ustād nahīñ ho ‘ġhālib’
Kahte haiñ agle zamāne meñ koī ‘mīr’ bhī thā