To mark noted Urdu poet and cultural icon Mirza Ghalib’s birth anniversary a cultural extravaganza will be hosted in his haveli at Gali Qasim Jaan in Ballimaran in New Delhi on Friday. The event is being organised by Friends for Education, an NGO working to uplift education, civic sense and cultural heritage in the Walled City.

Heritage activist Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who filed a public interest litigation in the Delhi High Court in 1997, which led to the restoration of Ghalib haveli, will conduct a session on “The Neglect of Ghalib and Urdu in Delhi”.

“Ghalib lived a life as deeply and humanly as any sensitive individual could have done. So, I am making a small attempt to create awareness about this genius whose poems in Persian and Urdu need to be read by the young generation. This would enable them to understand his philosophy of the need to live in peace and harmony. And what better way to commemorate his memory than to read his work in the haveli where he lived.”

For years, Mr. Bakht has been emphasising the need to breathe life into the monument. “Ghalib is in the heart of all the connoisseurs of poetry. However, what is to be lamented is that the memorial is now dead and defunct.”

The heritage activist said the need of the hour is to turn the dead monument into a living one by managing a reading room and a small chamber for teaching Urdu.

He feels a great service will be done to Ghalib if his translated poetry collections, especially in Hindi, can be put on display in the haveli. He also wants a tea stall to be set up in the haveli by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

“Unless Ghalib is brought closer to the local community, or people in general, merely celebrating his birth anniversary will have little efficacy,” he rues.

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