Poetry as an art form is slowly losing its flavour amongst the younger generation. Reading Kalidas in Sanskrit, or Kabeer and Mira Bai in Hindi, Ghalib in Urdu or Shakespeare in English is not a dream of the younger generation. Today, the audio-visual medium has taken over poetic writing and listening; we hear poetry in songs and lyrics on TV and films. What will happen to our literature in a foreign land? Keeping this in mind, a Sydney based poet and educationist Rekha Rajvanshi founded Indian Literary and Art Society of Australia to promote our languages, literature, art and culture. ILASA Inc. is an Australian national body with well-respected coordinators in each state: Prof Nalin Sharda in Melbourne, Mrs Manju Jehu in Brisbane, Rai Kookna in Adelaide, Kishor Nangrani in Canberra, Dr Subhash Sharma in Gladstone, Kushal Kushalendra and Rajesh Satija in Perth.
Recently, the Indian Literary and Art Society of Australia organized a literary evening, ‘Sydney Sahitya Sandhya,’ on 6th July 2014. More than 30 poets and shayars participated, with the youngest poet Alankar Ghosh being only 13, and the senior most poetess Vimla Luthra in her 80s.
“I thought only 50 poetry lovers will be attending the program, but the number kept getting bigger and bigger” Rekha Rajvanshi said. More than 90 people attended this unique program of poetry, literature and languages.
The Consul General of India Sunjay Sudhir attended the program with his family. He informed the audience that the new government is giving importance to Hindi, with the PM of India Narendra Modi giving all his speeches in Hindi.
The chief guest of the program was Dr. Bageshri Chakradhar, who is Kaka Hathrasi’s niece and Padmshri Dr Ashok Chakradhar’s wife. Dr Bageshri recited muktaks (four liners) in her soulful voice. Another writer from Chhatisgarh, Sri Ganesh Shankar Sharma, was present on the occasion and spoke on Gajanan Madhav’s ‘Muktiboth’.
Professor Nalin Sharda, who came from Melbourne, entertained the audience with his beautiful poetry and sense of humor. The MCs for the program were Mr Pradeep Updhyay and Rekha Rajvanshi, who took the audience on a three-hour-long poetic journey.
The program started with the lighting of auspicious lamp by the Consul General and Bageshri Chakradhar and then Tamar ‘Agni’, a Georgian-Australian model and actress expressed her love for Hindi by reading a paragraph in Hindi. Tamar is an aspiring Bollywood actress and is learning Hindi. Other enthusiastic and notable poets/writers included Garima Trivedi, Raj Pal Sandhu, Gaurav Kapoor, Siddhant Nakra, Ashraf Shad, Riaz Shah, Dr Shailja Chaturvedi, Dr Prabhat Sinha, Jasbir Ahluwalia, Kulwant Khurana, Praveen Kumar Gupta, Ajay Bajaj, Sonu Sarda, Sant Ram Bajaj, Vijay Kumar, Shailja Chndra, Dave Passi, Satokh Singh and Harmohan Walia.
Each poet brought their unique style of writing and reciting poetry, which allowed the audience to engage with a strong variety. The poems were mainly recited in Hindi and Urdu, with some Punjabi poetry and an English poem by 13-year-old Alankar. No doubt, listening to such a humble blend of poetry in ‘Sydney Sahitya Sandhya’ was a rewarding experience for poetry lovers, and strengthened the need for many more such creative programs to inspire our further generation.