B A I S A K H I   FES T I V A L    13th  TO  17th  A P R I L 2013

The International Festival of Sacred Arts, part of The Attic (Amarjit Bhagwant Singh Charitable Trust) is back with a Baisakhi Festival supported by Sir Sobha Singh Public Charitable Trust.

 This festival explores Punjabi culture through its music, textiles and art. Undivided Punjab was the land of 5 rivers, 3 cultures, 3 languages, 3 religions, with a rich heritage of sufi shrines and music, Sikh artists and Hindu singers.  Partition with the West going to Pakistan and a further partition between the states of Punjab and Haryana has most cruelly split the rivers, the music and the language and therefore almost its raison d’etre. Terrorism, Operation Blue Star and 1984 would have been the final nail in the coffin of this culture.

  However the Punjabi chak de (go for it) attitude has resulted in a revival of the food, the music, the textiles and the spirit of this now world wide community. The spirit of Punjab now lives on not only in Ludhiana but in London, in Chandigarh and in Canayda, in Amritsar and in Amrika. The sense of humour is back too.

                                           List of events                  Places of Worship Festival - 15 February to 11 M 2010


                             Places of Worship Festival - 15 February to 11 March, 2010







Sat to




13 – 17



13 april


11.30 am – 6 pm


2.30- 4



The Attic


The Attic



Exhibition “Phulkari : Threads of the Punjab”


Workshop Gidda and Bhangra conducted by Tripat Dhillon



13 april



The Attic

‘Punjabi Ethos’ a remembrance of old Punjab by Reena Nanda
“Phulkari : Threads of Identity” – a talk by Sunaina Suneja



14 april

11 am

To 2 pm

Rakabganj gurudwara

Gurudwaras Walk - “ An Empirical Experience of the Sikh Faith on the occasion of Baisakhi”  – conducted by Robinson


15 april


Sujan Singh Park Lawn

“The Tragic Love Story of Heer and Ranjha” a performance by Madan Gopal Singh


16 april


Sujan Singh Park Lawn

Gurbani Kirtan Parampara: Insights On Traditional Medieval Compositions” – a lecture demonstration by Bhai Baldeep Singh


17 april


Sujan Singh Park Lawn

“Geet Punjab De” - Folk Songs of the Punjab  by Madanbala Sindhu










 saturday 13th april
2.30 to 4 pm Workshop Gidda and Bhangra conducted by Tripat Kaur Dhillon

This free workshop is an introduction to the 2 main dances of the Punjab Giddha for women and Bhangra for men.

Ages above 10.  Participation by registration only.  Call 23746050 or email:info@theatticdelhi.org


 Giddha  is a popular folk dance of women in the Punjab both India and Pakistan. The dance is often considered derived from the ancient ring dance and is just as energetic and colourful as the Bhangra.  It  creatively displays feminine grace, elegance and elasticity and is mainly performed at festive or social occasions.

The costume is a colourful salwar kameez or ghagra with heavy jewellery.  The rhythm is kept by a dholak and clapping of hands. It is essentially danced in a circle where the women sing   Boliyan (small couplets) which are emotional, humorous, teasing and cover themes from nature to the excesses committed by the husband or mother-in-law .

Bhangra refers to several  styles of dances from pre partition rural Punjab.  What came to be known as Bhangra was a particular type of dance to celebrate the harvest at the time of Baisakhi. (13 April).

After Partition it had lost its popularity and was being slowly revived as “the” folk dance of Punjab. Its real resurgence however was in the 1980’s by diaspora Sikhs in the U.K., often characterized by a fusion with Western dance styles and the use of pre recorded audio mixes. The infusion of rock resulted in a new “Bhangra Music” style, one of the few immigrant music genres of the world in that it is absent in the home country. The music moved away from the simple and repetitive folk music beat and signaled the development of a self-conscious and distinctively rebellious British Asian youth culture centered on an experiential sense of self, with its own language, gesture, bodily signification and above all masculinity. This music fostered a sense of affirmation of a positive identity and culture.  A similar phenomenon took place in the U.S. where a large community of Punjabis, have often created their own subculture, specially after 9/11, complete with music, dance and inter college Bhangra competitions.

Meanwhile back at home Bhangra dance is based on music from a dhol, folk singing, and the chimta. The accompanying songs are bolis (small couplets).

Bhangra singers employ a high, energetic tone of voice. Singing fiercely and with great pride, they typically add nonsensical, random noises to their singing. Likewise, often people dancing to Bhangra will yell exclamations such as hoi, hoi, hoi; balle balle; chak de; oye hoi, haripa to the music.

Traditionally men wear a chaadra (lungi), a kurta and a pagri (turban).

Tripat Kaur Dhillon has worked with All India Radio and Doordarshan for 15 years as a voice over artist. She also worked as a stage artist with NSD Director, Mrs Sheila Bhatia group for 12 years. She has performed lead roles in the plays Chan Badla Da, Dard Ayega Daby Payoon, Sulgde Dariya, Tere Mere Lekh and Mirza Ghalib. She is featured in the first gidda video cassette “Gidda Pao Kudiyo” and in many Punjabi folk song videos.  She has travelled as a dancer and as an actor in the Middle East, Africa, Canada and the UK.

She is presently working as a judge in the Punjabi Academi and in the Punjabi University Patiala, as well as with Madan Bala Sindhu.

saturday 13th april to wednesday 17th april

11.30 am to 6pm (closed Sunday) Exhibition “Phulkari : Threads of the Punjab”

This exhibition consists of old pieces from the private collections of Mrs Amarjit Bhagwant Singh, Sunaina Suneja and 1469 Workshop as well as new pieces made by the Nabha Foundation.





saturday 13th april  

6.30 pm ‘Punjabi Ethos’ a remembrance of old Punjab by Reena Nanda

7.00 pm Phulkari: Threads of Identity’ – a talk by Sunaina Suneja


Reena Nanda will talk about Punjabi agrarian culture, influenced by the geography of its rivers. The Biradaris - multi-lingual (Persian/Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi) that gave this society  a rich repertoire of music from Afghanistan and Persia. Festivals, music and dance are the fabric of Punjabi life and Baisakhi is particularly important because of the association with the Sikh khalsa panth. The gurubani is as important a thread in Punjabi culture as the cotton spun by the women. .

Reena Nanda is the author of the biography of Kamaladevi Chattopadhya (OUP 2002). In the 1980’s and 90’s she conducted heritage walks of Delhi which were published as a series in the Indian Express Weekend. Since the last few years she is working on her mother’s memories of the social and cultural lives amongst the Punjabi community in Quetta (Baluchistan), Lahore and Jhang (her natal home)


Phulkari: Threads of Identity’ – a talk by Sunaina Suneja


Phulkari is a darn stitch embroidery technique from the Punjab. It literally means flower working and where the work covers the whole cloth is known as Bagh (garden) Phulkaris and Baghs were worn by women all over Punjab during marriages and other joyous occasions. They were embroidered by women for their own use making this a purely domestic folk art.  The colourful silken threads embroidered on a coarse cotton cloth satisfied the creative and practical needs of the families. The head scarves and shawls were the main items embroidered.

The Nabha Foundation initiated its income generation program for women of Nabha’s villages in early 2009 as part  of an  integrated and sustainable rural development, infrastructure upgradation and heritage conservation in Nabha region of Punjab. Young women who did not have any embroidery skills were trained in traditional phulkari work using a modern sensibility to create marketable products using traditional skills. These items as well as traditional Baghs and Phulkaris will be available for sale in this exhibition.

Sunaina Suneja will present the journey of this project, from its inception till today. The talk will include the cultural and social imagery of Phulkari in Punjab and in its folklore and music as well.

Sunaina Suneja has been working with textile crafts since the mid-80s beginning appropriately with khadi.  Her presentations on Khadi and Textiles of India , in English and French, have been appreciated by audiences in Delhi and abroad. 


sunday 14th april

11 am to 2 pm Gurudwaras Walk - “ An Empirical Experience of the Sikh Faith on the occasion of Baisakhi”  – conducted by Robinson

The two historic Gurudwaras included in this walk are Gurdwara Rakab Ganj and Gurudwara Bangla Sahib about 2 kms walk away. Participants will meet at Rakabganj. A brief history of the Gurudwara will be given before beginning the tour of the premises. The group will walk to Bangla Sahib where after the historical introduction the group will participate in the langar lunch (see below)

Delhi has an integral link with the Sikh faith owing not only to its close proximity to Punjab but also of the fact that Five Sikh Gurus have had direct visits to it. From the visit of the founder, Guru Nanak commemorated at the historic Gurudwara Nanak Piao to Gurudwara Mata Sundari, Delhi has been an important site for Sikh pilgrimage with nine historical Gurudwaras, two of which will be the focus of our walk. The walk will highlight and bring forth the richness of culture and the values embedded in the Sikh faith.

The site of Gurudwara Rakabganj marks the spot where 2 disciples of Guru Tegh Bahadur the ninth Guru of the Sikhs burnt their own houses to cremate the Guru. The Guru had earlier been beheaded on the site which is now Sisganj Gurudwara in old Delhi on the orders of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb when he refused to be converted to Islam.

Gurdwara Bangla Sahib was originally a bungalow belonging to Raja Jai Singh in the seventeenth century, and was known as Jaisinghpura Palace.

The eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan resided here during his stay in Delhi in 1664, where during a smallpox and cholera epidemic he helped the suffering by giving aid and fresh water from the well at this house. Raja Jai Singh constructed a small tank over the well. The water of the ‘Sarovar’ is now revered as having healing properties and is taken by Sikhs throughout the world back to their homes.

The Sikh tradition of langar is a prominent part of this Gurudwara. In the tradition of equality for which this religion is famous all people, regardless of race or religion may eat in the Gurdwara kitchen (langar hall). The Langar (food) is prepared by gursikhs who work there and also by volunteers who like to help out.

Participants are requested to dress modestly, remove footwear outside and keep their heads covered in the Gurudwara.

Robinson, an alumnus of St. Stephen's College, Delhi is a Theologian, Meditation Practitioner, Poet, Art Critic and Heritage Walks Curator based primarily in Delhi. He describes himself as a traveller in life who intends to journey well.

Participation is by registration only. Call 23746050 or email info@theatticdelhi.org. Meeting point at 11 am Rakabganj Gurudwara Main Gate Pandit Pant Marg (opposite Parliament House Library)

Map : http://delhi.burrp.com/listing/gurdwara-rakab-ganj_pant-road_delhi_worship-places/1296994980__MA__maps-directions


6.30 pm “The Tragic Love Story of Heer and Ranjha” a performance by Madan Gopal Singh

Heer Ranjha  is one of the four popular tragic romances of the Punjab. The other three are Mirza Sahiba, Sassi Punnun and Sohni Mahiwal.  There are several poetic narrations of the story, the most famous being 'Heer' by Waris Shah written in 1766. It tells the story of Heer , an extremely beautiful woman, born into a wealthy Jat family and Ranjha, the youngest of 4 brothers who loves to play the flute while his brothers toil in the fields. Ranjha has to leave home and comes to Heer’s village where the 2 fall in love. The jealous uncle gets her married to another man and Ranjha wanders the countryside alone till he meets a jogi, Baba Gorakhnath, and himself becomes an ascetic. Many years later they are reunited but die in a poisoned ladoo episode very reminiscent of the death of Romeo and Julie200 years earlier.

Madan Gopal Singh has written and lectured extensively on cinema, art and cultural history. He co-wrote the screenplay, dialogues and lyrics for the film ‘Name of a River’, composed the music for the documentary film ‘Paradise on a River of Hell’ and for the film ‘Khamosh Pani”. He was a Presenter – Performer at the Smithsonian Folklife festival 2002 and performed at the 2nd Sufi Soul World Music Festival. He taught  English Literature at Satyawati College in Delhi.

Accompanists : Deepak Castelino- Guitar and Banjo , Pritam Ghosal- Sarod. Gurmeet Singh- Multiple percussions.

For a sampling of Heer Ranjha listen to this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yqxUrP5BAY&feature=player_detailpage


6.30 pm Gurbani Kirtan Parampara: Insights On Traditional Medieval Compositions” – a lecture demonstration by Bhai Baldeep Singh

 On the occasion of Baisakhi celebrations, Bhai Baldeep Singh will offer insights on the classical dhrupad, prabandh, chantt and vaar genre repertoire of Gurbani Kirtan tradition, evoking the atmosphere of the medieval period in which the sacred music traditions of the Guru-Sikhs flourished.

Various music compositions will lead us through the spiritual journey from Baba Sheikh Farid to Guru Gobind Singh including Bhakti Saints and other authors of Guru Granth Sahib.

Bhai Baldeep Singh descends from a long lineage of masters of the Gurbāni Kīrtan maryadā, and today is its 13th generation exponent. His repertoire includes masterpieces that were first composed by the Sikh Gurus and the Bhagats themselves. Bhai Baldeep Singh is also the prime exponent (khalifā)of this oldest gharāna of classical percussions, pakhāwaj/mridang playing, of Punjab known as Sultanpur Lodhi - Amritsari Bāj.


Dhrupad has been the music of the devotees of India's many spiritual traditions. The Sikh gurus also expressed deep spiritual mysteries through musical compositions in the dhrupad, or originally, pade, style.


Bhai Baldeep Singh has performed the herculean task to revive almost all the instruments from the Gurus’ times by personally handcrafting them under the guidance of master luthier Gyani Harbhajan Singh of Village Dandian, Hoshiarpur. Today, he has the unique distinction of having carved the nomadic rebāb, sarandā, tāus, dilruba, tamburni (tanpura), jori and pakhāwaj - mridang.


Besides giving many concerts, he has also conducted workshops, lecture-demonstrations and seminars in India, Europe, North America, Southeast Asia and Australia. He has received the Bhai Batan Singh Memorial Award and Delhi State Annual Award for contribution in the field of Music. He has also been conferred the Sikh Gaurav Award and the Kapurthala Heritage Award  and on August 15, 2011, he received the Punjab State award for his seminal contribution to music (Gurbani Kirtan and classical music) and the arts.

 He is the Founder and Managing Trustee of The ANĀDFoundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of traditional culture, with particular focus on the preservation of South Asia's intangible heritage and cultural traditions.


He has served in the Core Committee of the Khalsa Heritage Complex (Anandpur Sahib), Executive Committee of the Punjab State Sangeet Natak Academy. He currently serves as member of the Advisory Council of the Punjab Languages Department and the Sultānpur Lodhi Development Board.


He is currently a Visiting Professor, Division of Musicology, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.


6.30 pm “Geet Punjab De” - Folk Songs of the Punjab  by Madanbala Sindhu

 A Punjabi song is not merely a lyric or a composition but an expression of the soul of its people, its environment, culture and traditions. Its four major romantic tragedies, the farmers songs on their way to the fields, the songs around the “khu” (village well) and the beautiful songs of a Punjabi wedding contain the history, geography and literature of an undivided Punjab, not yet separated by politics and religious discord.

Madanbala Sindhu presents a miscellany of Punjabi folk songs. Starting with the early morning gathering at the “khu” where a lot of the social life of the village took place to the wedding songs which make Punjabi weddings one of the most noisy and colourful events in India. She also presents Baisakhi songs where singing and dancing are an intrinsic part of the joyful harvest festival of Baisakhi. Typical Baisakhi folk songs depict the joy of the farmer. This festival is celebrated in rural Punjab with exuberant young boys and girls coming out in the fields in their colorful attire to participate in the traditional Baisakhi dances Gidda and Bhangra.

Most often Punjabi folk songs are sung on the beats provided by the drum where 'Dhol' and 'Dholak' is the male and female drum respectively. Other musical instruments traditionally used in Punjabi music are 'toombi', 'algoza', 'chheka', 'chimta', 'kaanto', 'dhad', 'daphali' and 'manjira'.

Madanbala Sindhu  trained as a singer under Music Directors like Jialal Vasant, Master M.L.Sonik, Satish Bhatia, Ustad Yunus Malik, Ustad Gulam Mustafa Khan and even the great Begum Akhtar.  At  present her Ustad is Gulam Hussain of the Sahaswan Gherana. She commenced her musical  career from Mumbai and Jalandhar stations of the All India Radio. Her top hit recordings “CHAN CHAN CHANKAN WANGAN” and “BERIAN DE BER MUK GAI” remain popular even today!

In the Delhi theatre of the 60’s and the 70’s she combined the talents of  ‘An Opera Actress’, ‘A Folk Singer’ and ‘A Dancer’. In 1965  she played the role of “Sassi” in “Sassi Punnu”, directed by Mr. R.G Anand. And has subsequently played lead roles in Punjabi (Chan Badlan Da, Heer Ranjah, Prithvi Raj Chauhan) and Urdu (Ghalib Kaun Hai, Nadir Shah, Amir Khusro) theatre.  She also acted and sung in “Monsoon Wedding”.  She has also directed many Punjabi musical and other plays “Wichree Pani, Yaadan- (“Down the Memory Lane”), Jo Rang Rangya – (Sufi Poets), Vajje Dholki and Mast Kalandar.

MadanBala has recorded  Shabads poems and musical plays of Bhai Veer Singh and a collection of folk and wedding songs of Punjab.

She has received the Sangeet Natak Academy Award for her contribution in keeping alive the music of Punjab, the Punjabi Academy Award  from Delhi Administration.

She has travelled worldwide and has recently recorded “The Great Big Punjabi Wedding”  for Music Today and has been a key person keeping alive the cultural traditions of Punjabi folk music.                                        

You can listen to “lathe de chaadar” here


This event is Co-sponsored by Shakunt Nanda Memorial Fund



april 2013 programmes



saturday 6th  april
6.30 pm Moonweavers - Chaand ke Julaahe Poetry Open Mic
Theme – City & Village

This poetry open mic session is based on the theme ‘City & Village’. All are welcome to participate with your own poems in English, Hindi or Urdu. 2 poems per poet, unless there is time.

Names of participants who intend to read should be sent to ratii_8@yahoo.co.in and/or tripurariks@gmail.com.

We are looking for poems that bring alive a particular city/ village and become a microcosm of its historical, cultural, political, social and aesthetic contours. We are also looking for pieces that recreate the city/village via poetic imagination and enrich its repertoire in the process.  Also welcome are poems that explore the categories ‘City’ and/or ‘Village’ in an abstract way and problematize its larger underpinnings. The City/Village doesn’t necessarily have to be a tangible geographical entity in your poems. It can be an imagined space where you negotiate your personal identity. You are free to experiment with the genre and style; you can make inroads into surrealism, magic realism and make the city /village of your poems a self-containing myth. You could also read out poems that incorporate both the City and the Village, exploring the tension between the two or harmonizing the two into a whole.


The Foundations of Western Civilization – an education in 24 evenings.  An Attic video presentation from The Great Courses taught by Prof. Thomas Noble, University of Notre Dame.

You can discover the essential nature, evolution, and perceptions of Western civilization from its humble beginnings in the great river valleys of Iraq and Egypt to the dawn of the modern world.


The Foundations of Western Civilization

monday 8th april
6.30 pm

Lecture 39- Vernacular Culture

The word Vernacular has different shades of meaning depending on when and where it is applied. In the middle ages it means non-Latin, hence, English, French, German etc. It can also mean popular as opposed to elite as well as secular as opposed to religious. It applies to poetry, epics, letters, legal materials and devotional texts.

Why did some people begin to use vernacular instead of Latin? The vast majority of people spoke their native languages and the elite were bi-lingual. This lecture explores the shift from classical Latin culture to the vernacular.


Lecture 40 - The Crisis of Renaissance Europe

 The period after 1300 may be viewed as the decline and despair felt at the “waning of the middle ages”  or the beginning of an era of initiative originality and creativity.

The main historical trends of the era are the 100 year war between France and England (1340 – 1453) in which English won all the great battles but finally lost the war.

In Iberia the crusading army entered Granada and the last Muslim stronghold fell to the centuries long “reconquista”.  The Jews were also asked to convert or depart ending the centuries old rich Jewish, Muslim, Christian culture in Spain. Christoforo Colombo was also dispatched to “discover and acquire islands and mainlands in the ocean sea”. Italy, Germany, Poland and the Papacy in Rome had their own challenges and this lecture explores them.

saturday 20th april
6.30 pm “Ishk Hakiki” the real love – an evening of sufi music by  Sufi Bawra

 The term Sufi music is paradoxically easy to recognize yet difficult to define. It is obviously related to the philosophy of Islamic Sufism yet sung by many who do not believe in Islam. It is the bedrock of the music of cultures as diverse as those of Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent and Indonesia. In India it takes the form of the Qawwali, The Ghazal or Kafi, where it is sung in Urdu, Hindi or Punjabi.  Musicians draw liberally from the rich and all inclusive heritage of both Sufi and Bhakti poetry and music that to attempt to categorize this intangible and unformalized music is almost a disservice.   

Its main features “ Sufiana Kalaam” are its mystical poetry, (specially that of Rumi, Hafez, Faiz, Bulleh Shah, Sheikh Farid, Hazrat Amir Khusrau,) its strong relationship to the Bhakti Movement which included Kabir, Guru Nanak and Meera Bai, its search for spirituality through ecstasy and unfortunately  in modern times its ‘fetishization’ by the cultural industry and its bastardizations as Sufi-rock and Sufi-pop.

Sufi Bawra came to this music through his mother who was a devotee of the Kabir panth gharana. He learnt Hindustani classical music by Pandit Vinaya Chandra Maudgalya, Pandit Vasant Thakar and Pandit Madhup Mudgal at Gandharava Mahavidyalaya.

He was sent to Afghanistan from 2007 – 2009  for 2 years by ICCR to train to train Afghan students in classical, folk and sufiana music. In 2010 he was invited to musically celebrate India’s Republic Day in Kathmandu.

He continues to teach classical music since the last 30 years at Gandharava Mahavidyalaya.


monday 22nd april
6.30 pm The Foundations of Western Civilization

Lecture 41- The Renaissance Problem

 The renaissance can be dated back to the middle of the 15th century. It began in Italy rather than in France which had been culturally dominant till then. Italy had greater wealth and more leisure to enjoy the arts. Nothing better than to compare Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales with Boccaccio’s Decameron. By the late 15th century scholars commonly made tours of Italy and with the 16th century painters began to follow. ‘Le Grand Tour’ became an essential element of the education of young European aristocrats as well as painters, poets or philosophers.

‘Italy, in particular, was their passion. It combined, in their eyes, the heritage of Antiquity, the force of the Renaissance, the heart of Christianity...’

The renaissance began as an urban, a communal, phenomenon but quickly became princely and courtly.

Lecture 42 - Renaissance Portraits

 There were many remarkable artists and poets who made the renaissance one of the most original periods in the cultural history of Italy and Europe. Giovanni Boccaccio was a Florentine merchant’s son who made his reputation with the decameron.  It is composed of a 100 stories ranging from the erotic to the tragic. Tales of wit, practical jokes.  It is a document of life in 14th-century Italy.

Francesco Petracco (Petrarch) was the giant of the early renaissance. He studied law in France for 7 years but considered it a waste of his time. In 1327, he caught sight of “Laura” , the mysterious woman who inspired 366 poems in exquisite Italian for which he was named poet laureate in Rome. At the height of his fame he wrote “I have finally joined that humble band that knows nothing, holds nothing certain, doubts everything – outside of the things that it is sacrilege to doubt”.

The Medici family with the young Lorenzo at its head made Florence the cultural capital of all Italy – which means of Europe.

Leonardo De Vinci was the most versatile figure of the renaissance. He worked as a military engineer, painted portraits, designed stage sets and costumes, drew maps, proposed irrigation plans and drew more than 5000 sketches which survive in his notebooks.

Michelangelo Buonoratti was a Florentine of high birth whose family opposed his desire to be an artist. He used Greek statues as the model but with his Pieta in Rome he created an astonishing synthesis of Gothic, Greek and Christian art.

One of the best known works of Michelangelo is the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Florence.



'Monthly Monologue: Why it Speaks to Me?'

Urdu, the language of Delhi (Zaban-e- Dehli) had its origins in the Sultanate period of the 13th century and its magnificent flowering in the courts of the Mughals in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Known at different as Dehlavi, Hindavi, Rekhta, Hindi and finally Urdu it produced the cultural high point in Literature, Music and Poetry of the Mughal Empire including the cultured elites of Delhi, Hyderabad, Rampur, Bhopal and hundreds of cities in the Deccan and the Punjab. 

Trade between the Arabs, Turks, Afghans, Persians and the local merchants speaking Punjabi, Khadi Boli, Sindhi and other local languages  at the large sarai’s (inns)  resulted in the birth of a new language, a fusion of the languages of Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. The Ghazal, the Qawali and the masnavi became the language of music and poetry with the likes of Meer, Ghalib, Momin and Zauq but Urdu also became the language of rebellion against British rule and the demand for freedom and the creation of a just society with authors like Iqbal, Josh, Firaq and Manto.

Hindustani Awaaz, in collaboration with The Attic, presents a monthly series of monologues: Poetry, literature, short stories, plays, essays, nazms, ghazals. A series of eclectic speakers will present/sing/recite their favourite Urdu text and explain why the text ‘speaks’ to them the way it does. We hope this series will highlight a neglected aspect of the Delhi cultural scene.



thursday 25th april
6.30 pm “Tum mere paas raho” – Why Faiz will always stay with me by Dr Saif Mahmood

Saif Profile

The uniqueness of Faiz lies in his being both a revolutionary and a romantic at the same time. His voice was a voice of dissent – both in revolution and romance. The canvas of Faiz’s poetry is, therefore, enormous and has something to offer to everyone – a persecuted citizen, a disgruntled litigant, a fallen lover and even an entire deprived nation. In this talk, Dr Saif Mahmood will attempt to encompass this wide and diverse panorama of Faiz and tell us what Faiz has to offer to his readers and why he is indispensable. In doing so, he will also recite some poems in Faiz’s own characteristic style.



Dr. Saif Mahmood is a New Delhi-based litigating and corporate lawyer, holding a doctorate in Comparative Constitutional Laws in South Asia. He speaks and writes on diverse issues ranging from law to literature. Founder of the online group, South Asian Alliance for Literature, Art & Culture (SAALARC), he remembers most of his Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz by heart, recites them effortlessly and translates them into English cautiously.


Saif blogs on besabab.wordpress.com and is currently writing a series on the Urdu poets of Delhi titled “Dilli jo ek sheher tha”.