Bangalore, Sept 15, 2013: A schoolboy is reciting Hamd (hymn) in a husky voice on a makeshift stage at the right side of Chhota Maidan, a small ground tucked away behind a line of shops near the Shivajinagar Bus Stand.
At first sight, it appears to be a religious event. But as the gaze shifts to the left, a row of stalls readily holds the attention. At the first stall with two open fronts, two Tughras (calligraphic monograms) fixed in the centre of the wall stand out for their stunningly beautiful and jaw-dropping work. ‘Tashreef Aawari Ka Shukriya’ (Thank you for coming), reads one.
As one saunters by, scores of people — men, women, college students, schoolchildren et al — are seen flipping pages of books, enquiring about discounts or just glancing around.
It is the 15th All India Urdu Book Fair, being organised for the first time in the City by the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) in association with the Karnataka Urdu Academy. The event, which will go on till September 22, was formally inaugurated by Minister for Haj, Wakf and Minority Welfare, Qamar-ul-Islam, on Sunday.
Islam said that love for literature and language cannot be expressed by taking out rallies and shouting slogans. “Those who want to wipe out Urdu language and culture will never succeed,” he declared. “Urdu is a self-defending language and stands on its own with the weapons of politeness, purity and peace.”
Khwaja Mohammed Ekramuddin, Director, NCPUL, said that efforts were being made for the last two years to organise the event but the erstwhile government had foiled them.
Zafer Mohiuddin, Urdu-Hindi theatre personality and dialogue writer for ‘Malgudi Days’, said it was not just any other book fair. “It is a celebration of Urdu language and culture. Many people now want to learn the language, enthralled by the popular Bollywood songs. Such a fair would give them a perfect incentive,” he remarked.
Nearly 75 publishers from across the country have set up stalls. Among them is the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Arabic Persian Research Institute, an academy run by the Rajasthan government at Tonk, a small town.
Established in 1978, the institute has published 108 books, including translation of 22 manuscripts and books, 12 catalogues and 22 research journals. It has 8,658 manuscripts, 32,192 books, 17,980 old magazines and files of 65,000 verdicts of the department of jurisprudence of the erstwhile princely state of Tonk. It provides fellowship/ scholarship to scholars who carry out research based on its source material.
At the stalls of NCPUL and Urdu Academy, Delhi, books on teaching of Urdu have been displayed. The NCPUL has published over 1,300 books so far. Its project assistant, Shahid Akhtar, said the main idea was to promote the language. “We don’t see it as a commercial venture. Our aim is to spread the fragrance of Urdu to every place where the language is spoken and understood,” he told Deccan Herald.
Among the attractions at the fair is ‘Mirza Ghalib’, the screenplay of the famous TV serial of the same name directed by Gulzar. The NCPUL is offering a 45-percent discount to students and teachers and 25 per cent to others.