Northern California Aligarh Association celebrates Sir Syed Day

By TCN News

The Aligarh Alumni Association of Northern California (AMUAA-NC) held its 19th Sir Syed Day program in the San Francisco Bay Area on August 13 at the India Community Center in the City of Milpitas. The event was attended not only by dedicated AMU Alumni from the region but also by connoisseurs of fine Urdu poetry and prose.

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This year, the event was somewhat unique because there was no keynote speech by an outside speaker. The formalities this time were conducted by local officers and friends of the organisation themselves.

The first segment of the event was an informal social hour and a fine dinner in the Mughlai tradition catered by Chandni Restaurant, Newark. The actual formalities next began with a recitation from the Holy Qur’an and a brief introduction by segment emcee Amtul Suhail who thanked all the event sponsors and everyone present for attending. She invited Dr. Shaheer Khan to the stage, whose quick reference to cheque books pledges and credit cards paved the way for the AEEF fundraiser. Armed with slides and aided by a short documentary, details of the worthy effort that the AEEF is conducting to help some struggling or less fortunate in India get their education, Khan said that the work was done with almost zero overhead costs. He explained that the goal was to collect $100,000 annually out of which $60,000 had already been collected and this fundraising was for the remaining $40,000 shortfall. Not only does the AEEF provide scholarships on a merit basis or need to deserving students for schooling but it also aids them in getting into universities to further their education. Readers are invited to call (650) 969-2333 in Foster City, California or visit the Aligarh Education Endowment Fund on Facebook or their website for further details.


Another significant part of the formalities was the welcome speech delivered by current AMUAA President Suhail Farrukh who started his speech with some moving Urdu poetry directed at Sir Syed and his vision. Farrukh said that we are gathered here to honour Sir Syed and anything one can say about his achievements in such a short period of time just would not be enough. He said that when Sir Syed founded MAO College he had in mind an institution where modernity and tradition (West and East) could co-exist. He explained that this association came into being in 1996 and in the nearly 20 years of its existence it has been the goal here to take Sir Syed’s education mission forward with community support. He also thanked all in attendance and especially the event sponsors for making this possible.

To add here, the main sponsors of this program were Dr. Kamil and Dr. Talat Hasan, Dr Ashraf Habibullah (Computers and Structures Inc.) Syed Sarwat (Chandni Restaurant), Jamal Qureishi (JQ American Corporation), Zaheed Kajani and the Amana Mutual Funds Trust.


A special recognition was awarded to the area Urdu Academy for its long years of service to the language and for its support of the AMUAA. Presenting the award was K. Venkata Ramana from the Consulate General of India in San Francisco and on stage to receive it were Tashie Zaheer and Khalid Rana of the Urdu Academy. The second segment closed with the singing of the Tanana-e-Aligarh (Aligarh Anthem) by the poet Majaz during which many Aligarh Alumni participated enthusiastically.

The final segment of Sir Syed Day is the International Mushaira (Urdu poetry recital) which continues to attract people from far and wide. The poets chosen for this AMU Mushaira represented a wide range of thoughts, moods and age ranges. The Nizamat (hosting) responsibility here was given to Tashie Zaheer (Bay Area) and the Sadarat (Presidency) of the segment to senior poet Naseer Turabi (Pakistan). Noteworthy Urdu Poets from the bay area started with the romance in Tarannnum of Misum Samar, the wishes and wonderment of Dr. Aifra Ahmed, the contemplation of Ahmar Shehwaar and the moving verses of Tashie Zaheer.


The guest poets this time were from both India and Pakistan started with Rakhshanda Naveed (Pakistan) who entertained us with both Nazm and Ghazal, (one for Independence Day) and Hasnain Jaleesi (Pakistan) provided much comic relief focusing on marriage, old age, one-way romancing. Shakeel Azmi (India) started off with some appreciative words for Sir Syed, incomplete lives, and some very powerful verses on how people live (Jeetey Hain). Iqbal Ashhar (India) next started with “Maar Daala” but his Nazam “Urdu hai Mera Naam” (Urdu is my name) literally stole the evening. And last but not least senior poet Naseer Turabi (Pakistan) closed the round with both romantic elegance and depth.