The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) is organising its 25th ‘National Urdu Book Mela’ at the Islamiah College, in Vaniyambadi, from January 3 to January 11. The mela, which is being organised in association with the 120-year-old Vaniyambadi Muslim Educational Society (VMES), is said to be the first such mela held in South India by NCPUL.
Sprawling across 42 acres at the foot of Yelagiri Hills, the Islamiah College was once a coconut grove, along the Palar river. Now, the playground of the college campus is where the mela is on, till January 11, and is open between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. on all days, including Sundays.
Books on literature, poetry, grammar, history, biographies, stories for children and medicine deck up the wooden racks of the 95 stalls at the mela. The most notable works on display are the translated versions of celebrated writers’ works including George Orwell’s Big Brother is Watching You, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a self-help book, and Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins.
Most of the books are in Hindi, Tamil, English and Urdu. However, the popular books among the visitors are the translated versions of Tamil poet Subramania Bharati (also known as Mahakavi Bharathiyar) and the pocket-size Quran.
“Despite being small in size, Vaniyambadi has a rich history, especially among its Urdu natives, who speak the refined language similar to that spoken in northern India,” says NCPUL’s educational officer, Ajmal Sayeed, who is also officer in-charge of the fair. He says the aim of the fair is to promote Urdu literature among people in the region.
Further, the fair also promotes meet-the-author sessions, debates, dramas, mushairas, tamsili mushaira, in which students dress up like great Urdu poets and present their couplets, and Bait Bazi — recitation of Urdu couplets in the form of Antakshari.
Visitors from Tirupattur, Ambur, Peranambut, Gudiyattam, Melvisharam, Krishnagiri, Hosur, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad are expected to attend the fair. A discount of nearly 20% for books is being provided.
At the inaugural function on January 3, Prof. Aquil Ahmad, director, NCPUL; Mohammed Hashim Malack, managing director, K. H. Group of Companies; G. Vishwanathan, founder, Vellore Institute of Technology; and Ghani Mohammad Azhal, general secretary, Vaniyambadi Muslim Educational Society, participated.
On a lighter note, it may be noted that during the 18th century, Mysore warrior Tipu Sultan began his military career with his first battle in Vaniyambadi, near Tirupattur, against the British regime. And history says that a century later, natives of this small leather-making town stood against the British during the first war of independence.