Highlighting Awadhi tradition

Madhur Tankha
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Vice-President Hamid Ansari along with Dr. Karan Singh (left) releasing a book by Muzaffar Ali (right) in New Delhi on Friday.— Photo: Shanker Chakravarty
Vice-President Hamid Ansari along with Dr. Karan Singh (left) releasing a book by Muzaffar Ali (right) in New Delhi on Friday.— Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

Cultural impresario Muzaffar Ali on Friday said even the Babri Masjid demolition could not destroy the pluralistic traditions of Awadh and the people of the region continue to rejected divisive forces and carry on the tradition of peaceful co-existence.

Speaking at the launch of his book “A Leaf Turns Yellow: Sufis of Awadh”, Mr. Ali said: “After the destruction of Babri Masjid, I visited various dargahs and temples in Awadh and was happy to notice that the pluralistic traditions of the place were still intact. People of different faiths celebrate festivals together.”

The filmmaker, who has been hosting the Jahan-e-Khusrau festival annually to bring people of different faiths and political affiliations on a common platform, said the idea behind producing the illustrated volume was to introduce readers to Awadh’s history, traditions, sub-cultures, institutions and poetry. “I wanted to portray the right image of the country to the West”.

Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who launched the book, described it as the cultural history of Awadh. Dr. Ansari said it is important to go through this beautifully brought out book as it had well written essays by scholars and calligraphy. “The book stands out in its class. It represents the composite pluralistic traditions which characterised much of North India, particularly Awadh.”

Noted historian Mushirul Hasan, who has contributed in enriching the scholarly standard of the book by penning two essays, said the book sheds light on the concept of kazbah .

Kazbah not only had a geographical aspect but also cultural and intellectual dimensions during the Mughal and British periods… It epitomised widely stood out cultural traits. The people of Awadh used to observe festivals and visit dargahs and other places of worship. It was a vibrant dynamic entity. In Faizabad and Lucknow, kazbah had intellectual and cultural aspect. Another aspect of it was pluralism.”

Explaining the historical significance of kazbah , Prof. Hasan said interestingly a lot of rationalistic and humanist construction of Islam took place in kazbah . “It was not an urban centre with its social and economic dimensions. It had quintessential kazbah features. Islam cemented kazbah features like pluralism. It created an atmosphere of different traditions to co-exist. This is the reason why so many people visit different shrines.”

Indian Council for Cultural Relations president Karan Singh, who has written the foreword for the book, also spoke briefly about it.

Each essay in the book has been written by a renowned scholar. They have explored ways in which Sufism has influenced social mores and expressive traditions, emerging as a way of living and thinking unique to Awadh.




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