Jashn-e-Rekhta goes global with first Urdu fest in London

| | London
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Jashn-e-Rekhta goes global with first Urdu fest in London

Saturday, 28 October 2023 | PTI | London

Jashn-e-Rekhta, one of the world’s largest Urdu language, literary and cultural festivals, being held annually in New Delhi for eight years, will make its international debut here on Saturday.The day-long “Jashn-e-Rekhta London” will be held at Westminster Chapel and include sessions and performances representing the socio-cultural matrix of Urdu in the UK.

It will bring together artists, dancers, scholars and poets from India, Pakistan and the UK through musical performances, eclectic discussions, theatre, Dastangoi storytelling, dance and mushaira. “Jashn-e-Rekhta London is a celebration of the global presence and prominence of Urdu outside the subcontinent,” said Huma Khalil, Trustee of Rekhta Foundation UK – the organiser of the London event.

“We have tried to present a microcosm of our shared zubaan o adab in the heart of England and the programming keeps in mind the presence of South Asian communities residing in the UK. We are thrilled at the overwhelming response to the festival. The abundance of love for their language and culture in the hearts of people living so far from their roots is truly heartwarming,” said the author, translator and filmmaker.

Rekhta Foundation India was launched in 2012 to preserve and promote Urdu literature and culture and has amassed a growing treasure of Urdu poetry, prose and e-books.

The foundation’s focus is on promoting diversity, inclusiveness, harmony and awareness.

“Long the lingua franca of the Indian subcontinent, Urdu is one of its most elegant and expressive languages,” said Sanjiv Saraf, Founder of Rekhta Foundation.

“It has a significant presence in the UK with the presence of a vibrant South Asian diaspora, enriching the cultural tapestry here. On a global level, a festival of this nature contributes to a wider appreciation of Urdu as a language of refinement and tehzeeb, a language that fosters a sense of belonging, integration and identity, connecting us with our roots, especially among those at a distance from their homelands,” he said.

Given its sell-out debut this weekend, the foundation plans a larger venue for its next Jashn-e-Rekhta London outing. The programme includes topics such as Urdu aesthetics in the audio-visual media, a Rajasthani folk tale Dastangoi by Mahmood Farooqui and Darain Shahidi, a play written and directed by Juhi Babbar Soni and a dance odyssey on Noor Jehan’s life, concluding with an orchestral qawwali.

In England, Urdu is listed as the fourth main language and ranked third in the top 10 most spoken languages in London. Rekhta.Org, among the world’s largest repositories of Urdu literature, is followed by nearly 226,000 people in the UK – with 84,000 followers in the city of London alone.

It led to the creation of Rekhta Foundation UK as a registered charity with an aim to preserve and promote the languages, literature and culture of South Asia, with a particular focus on Urdu.

The foundation says it is working towards engaging renowned academics and cultural leaders in Urdu from across the world to spread awareness among the diaspora.

The inaugural London festival has been backed by UK-based patrons and Indian-origin industrialists, besides a group of Urdu experts making up Team Rekhta UK.

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