Bayaad-e-Ghalib: nearly 190 years after the poet visited Kolkata, the city pays rich tributes

Week-long celebrations which begin today include a tour of places in Kolkata where Ghalib lived and visited and the release of a commemorative stamp

Almost 190 years after Mirza Ghalib visited Kolkata to find out about his pension, the city is offering rich tributes to the poet in a week-long celebrations beginning Friday titled Bayaad-e-Ghalib (Remembering Ghalib), on the International Mother Language Day. More than two million Muslims whose mother tongue is Urdu reside in West Bengal.

Also read: The afterlives of Mirza Ghalib

The events organised by the West Bengal Urdu Academy, include a tour of places in Kolkata where Ghalib lived and visited, including Shimla Bazar and Kathal Bagan in central Kolkata and the release of a commemorative stamp to mark the poet’s visit to the city. Five different plays with Ghalib as the central theme would also be staged.

Other events include a recitation of Bengali translation of (’Charagh-e dair’) written by Ghalib in Benaras and eight short story writers of Urdu and Bengali presenting their fictionalised version of the poet’s life in the form of short stories.

“I do not remember if Kolkata has ever given a tribute to Mirza Ghalib. From the land of Tagore, we are offering rich tributes to one of the greatest Urdu poets of all time,” chairperson of the West Bengal Urdu Academy Md Nadimul Haque said.

Mr. Haque, also a Rajya Sabha MP from the ruling Trinamool Congress, said that an international seminar on Ghalib would be conducted in which speakers from different countries would participate. The five plays includes ‘Ghalib Aur Kolkata Musharira’, recreating the poetic congregation that was held in the city at Calcutta Madrasah in 1828.

Dabir Ahmed, professor of Urdu at Kolkata’s Maulana Azad College, said that Ghalib’s visit to Kolkata remained a little known aspect of his life. “Ghalib arrived in Kolkata on February 20, 1828 and left the city on October 1, 1829. During his stay he visited a number of places and even read three poetic symposiums (mushiaras) where the Calcutta Madrasah is located,” Prof. Ahmed said. During his stay, Ghalib wrote ‘Qate Burhan’, which is on the literary differences he had with other poets, he said.

Experts such as Prof. Ahmed said that Ghalib visited important landmarks like the Governor’s House, the Writers Building, and also the National Library that used to be the residence of senior British officials.

Syed Md. Shahabuddin Haider, vice-chairman of the West Bengal's Urdu Academy, said that a grand tribute to Ghalib by the people of city was due for a long time. “The five-day celebrations will involve people from all walks of life, from academicians to students and common people,” he said.

Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib was born in Agra on December 27, 1797 and died in Delhi on February 15, 1869.

Reflecting on Ghalib’s love for Kolkata, Mr. Haider quoted the famous lines of the poet.

Kalkatte ka jo zikr kiya tu ne hum nasheen, Ik teer mere seenay mein mara kay haye haye (Ah me, my friend! The mention of Calcutta’s name, Has loosed a shaft that pierces my heart” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 2:26:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/bayaad-e-ghalib-nearly-190-years-after-the-poet-visited-kolkata-the-city-pays-rich-tributes/article30877916.ece

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