Home Art/Culture Adding sparkle to lives with poetry: Diwali at a Gurudwara

Adding sparkle to lives with poetry: Diwali at a Gurudwara

By Bushra Alvi Razzack for TwoCircles.net

New Delhi: In a unique celebration of the festival, poets from the literary group Delhi by Verse, along with students of Aseem Asha Foundation, came together on Deepawali eve at Taimoor Nagar Gurudwara. While the young poets enthralled children with their compositions, the students showcased films they had made on Diwali celebrations through the years.


What is heartening to note is that the students, 90% of whom are Muslims from underprivileged homes of Okhla, are being encouraged to participate in festivals of all religions in a bid to nurture them into being truly tolerant citizens of India who are broad-minded and accepting of people of all faiths. Decorating the venue with flags of different nations too is an attempt to spread the message of global unity and peace.

Adeeba Saifi

Aseem Asha Usman, Founding Director of the organisation, believes that various art forms can bring about positive social development and cultural change. He teaches performing arts, film and new media to women and children, especially girls, from the slum areas of Jafrabad-Seelampur and Okhla village. He encourages children and women from various other communities of Delhi to raise their voice through making short films and digital stories based on their own issues.


On the other hand, Delhi by Verse is a literary group that employs the written/spoken word to spread joy and meaning. It also nurtures new talent in the city.

Poetry is important in our lives and exists in everything around us. When something stirs your senses and touches your inner self and finds expression in words, a poem is created. Apart from bringing immense joy to the reader as well as the listener, poetry is a powerful medium of communication wherein a thought or an idea can be communicated within the short space of a few well-scripted words. The group aims to touch the lives of people, especially children, through this medium. The students were encouraged not only to read a lot of poetry but to try and write poems themselves and share it with others.


Speaking on the occasion, Dr Zamarrud Mughal, Urdu activist and Editor of Urdu website Rekhta.org detailed how an attempt was being made to popularise Urdu shaiyri through the digital platform as well as through well-planned events round the year. Seeing the enthusiasm of the children and the work being done by the AA Foundation, he offered to plan some activities for them in the forthcoming Jashn-e-Rekhta event to be held in Feb 2017.


Vikramjit Singh Rooprai, heritage activist and Founder of Youth for Heritage Foundation elaborated on how poetry has served as a historical instrument enabling the passing of stories between generations. He cited the example of the ancient texts, the Vedas and Puranas, which were written in verse form.

Apart from diyas which the students lighted at the Gurudwara, the evening was illuminated with heart-warming words by the enthusiastic poets from Delhi by Verse group who shared some very intense poetry on unity, tolerance, brotherhood and various social issues; poems that underline the need to bring about a change in the world for better understanding, cooperation, love and most important in today’s time, peace.

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What was most touching to learn was that in a spirit of true selflessness, Adeeba Saifi, a student of art at the AA Foundation had donated the money generated from the sale of her series of ‘Devi’ paintings towards the evening’s celebrations which also included a langar where the students helped in cooking, washed dishes and cleaned up. It is remarkable indeed to note that children from the Muslim community were doing community service in a Gurudwara. Adeeba’s earnings had also helped fund a trip of seven students earlier that week to Amritsar and the Golden Temple.


Carrying on the spirit of generosity, Ashish Jangra, poet, scriptwriter and Founder of theatre group Nirantar invited the senior students to see his forthcoming play free of cost. This magnanimous act truly brings out the sentiments of the festival and the power of poetry.

The author is a Delhi-based writer and Founder of the poetry group Delhi by Verse