Memorable Kaafiya – The Poetry Festival And The Launch Of ‘Kaafiyana’

“Hey, where is the birthday party happening?”, a friend asked me a few days back.
“At the amphitheater of IHC. I hope you are coming.” I replied.
She looked confused. “IHC? Isn’t  Kaafiya – The Poetry Festival happening there? Anything special about this festival?”
“Yes, it is not just another poetry festival. It is an effort to bring the poetry enthusiasts from across the city together, going beyond the boundaries. An effort to take poetry, music and dance to a different level. ‘Kaafiya’ means ‘rhyme’ and the purpose of the festival is to bring the poets/artists together. You know, “mile sur mera tumhara, to sur bane hamara‘? Unity and harmony through different art forms.That’s Kaafiya for you.There will also be the much awaited launch of ‘Kaafiyana’, the bilingual poetry anthology. My Hindi poem is part of the collection. Do read. What better way to celebrate one’s birthday than by celebrating poetry. For a poet it is a dream come true. No?” I smiled.
“Wow! yes, of course. Sounds good. Congrats and best wishes. I will try to come.”She said.

I turned forty eight this year and celebrations for me have always had different meaning. Doing what you love most is the best  way to celebrate life. This was where i wanted to be.

I wasn’t able to attend the first day of the festival for health reasons but the two-day fest began on 10th of October with a bang. Day 1 saw a series of discussions with eminent personalities that included Shri Ashok Chakradhar, Peggy Mohan, Sukrita Paul Kumar, Nishad Zaidi, Prof Abdul Bismillah, Janab Sohail Hashmi (Delhi heritage Walks) to name a few.

Day one also saw some exquisite poetry reading by young emerging poets. The high point of the first day was a mesmerizing dance performance by guru Rashmi Khanna called ‘Timeless Lore of Love‘. The poetry recitation by Saumya Kulshreshtha and Rashmi’s spellbinding performance based on that held the audience captive. From what I heard this was one of those rare choreographed performances that will be etched in the minds of poetry lovers for a very long time. I regretted missing Day 1 of the festival even more after attending day two.
The reason I decided to write about Kaafiya is very personal. I support their cause. Unlike many of the other poetry events I felt an instant connect with the spirit with which the whole event was organized.

The beautiful amphitheater at IHC was radiating with the warmth, the love, and the hard work that team Kaafiya and its supporting partners Readomania and others had put in. There was a sense of harmony and belonging that immediately made you feel connected to everyone present there, known or unknown. It takes a lot of effort to win hearts and mentally stimulate the minds and thoughts of people and this poetry festival totally rocked at it. Everyone connected to Kaafiya , the main organizers, the volunteers, the participants, the partners, worked relentlessly to make this maiden event a huge success. The runup to Kaafiya began in August with events spread across the city, open mic, slam poetry sessions, creative workshops, lectures etc in collages with the help of their ‘poetry ambassadors’ and in private gatherings all across the capital, one of a kind heritage poetry walks were organized with youth for heritage foundation, and poetry events like Rhyming with Poet’s Collective celebrated the rich heritage of poetry all through these three months. Every Tuesday #KaafiyaMilaao trended at number 1 on twitter as poetry enthusiasts shared their short verses in both English and Hindi on this social network.The tradition still continues. Do join in folks.

So you can imagine that the overall festival was not just for these two days at IHC but was spread over last few months. Kaafiya fest at IHC was culmination of all these super events organized so wonderfully by Yaseen Anwer and other members of organizing team Dipankar Mukherjee, Saumya Kulshreshtha and Vikramjit Singh Rooprai. I think the most remarkable thing about this fest was celebrating poetry in both English and Hindustani. There is an urgent need to bring Hindi poetry to mainstream and I was thrilled to listen to some fantastic poems by the young poets. Kaafiya, in my opinion, is doing a great job in encouraging these young poets to come out and showcase their talent . To give them a platform is something amazing. It instills faith and courage in them.
I missed the first session of Day two but reached in time for the next. The eminent personalities that graced the second day included Sumant Batra (Kumaun Literary festival), Aditi Maheshwari, Raj Liberhan, Keki. N.Daruwala, Rana Safvi, Darain Shahidi (Dansangoi), Lubna Irfan, Vikarmjit Singh Rooprai to name a few. The topics for discussions were carefully chosen keeping in mind the relevance and importance of subject matter. The idea was to engage the audience in most fruitful way possible.
I loved ‘Dastaan-e-dilli’ , I had heard a lot about Vikarmjit Rooprai and was curious about his work. This section of Kaafiya was simply out of the world. To know the city of Delhi through poetry was a new experience for me.  I hope the videos will be uploaded soon for everyone to watch and listen.
‘Aawaaz-e-dilli’ was something I will remember for life. What an amazing blend of poetry. Shiva Singh, Tauseef Ahmed, Azhar Nawaz, Mudita Rastogi , all of you won my heart. Simply superb. Those you attended the festival will agree with me on this. The audience was jubilant and cheered the poets on every sher, every nazm, very verse. Thank you poets for sharing your treasure of words with us. I am sure you inspired many among us.

Another high point of day two of Kaafiya was the poetry recitation session by actor, poet, painter and photographer, the gorgeous and talented Deepti Naval. I know I am going a little overboard with this but I always loved her work. Her recent poems are excellent. Though “dark” in her words they touch you somewhere deep. At least they resonated with me deeply. The conversation between Yaseen and Deepti was delightful and she was so gracious in answering all our questions.
By now the crowd was euphoric. One could see the energy that flowed in the audience. It was electrical.

I will try and share the video of kaafiya anthem ‘Delhi ke dil ka arman’ . You must listen to the fine lyrics by Aseem Abaasi.
Adil Sami held us captive with his musical poetry. A very interesting blend of two.

The book launch of our Kaafiyana was unique and one of a kind. It was done through a magical Odissi dance performed by Adrija Sarkar. Unforgettable is the word that comes to mind when I think of it.

Kaafiyana is a collection of bilingual poetry (Hindi &English). It features poems by the ninety poets who were selected through Delhi Poetry Challenge organized by Readomania and Kaafiya.
I really loved the way team kaafiya kept calling young talents to the stage to recite their poems between the main events. Many poets got a chance to showcase their work and were encouraged and appreciated by the audience. A few poet contributors from Kaafiyana also read their poems.
By now the evening shadows had settled around the amphitheater and the air had become a bit cooler. The audience had no wish to leave. Intoxicated by the charms of poetry, music and dance they wanted more.
Girish Sharma (Bandey) set the stage on fire with some great music. You had to be there to believe the kind of impact his presence had on the audience. They cheered, sang with him, urged him to sing their favorite songs, it was sheer euphoria taking over. His song Lappujhania (you can find it on You Tube) made the crowd ecstatic and rightfully so. The guy is a terrific performer. This musical poetic soiree was cherry on the top.
It is always a pleasure to meet old and new friends during such events but these two days of Kaafiya will be memorable for many reasons. You can check out the FB page, Twitter handle, and the website of Kaafiya for more information about the stupendous work they are doing in making Delhi the youth driven poetry capital of India. Also, don’t forget to visit Readomania website to get updated on the events like Readomania #TalkFest to be held in the first week of every alternate month starting from November at India Habitat Centre.
Lastly , I want to congratulate all the poets who contributed to Kaafiyana. It is a pleasure to be part of the group. Thank you Kaafiya for this wonderful opportunity to share my work and for bringing poetry to us in such a unique way. I wish all of you tremendous success in future events. A big thank you to the volunteers, hosts and hostesses who made the show so magical. Well done.

The people who made it possible.

Friends, do get involved with Kaafiya movement in every possible way if you are in Delhi/NCR.
Readomania, thank you for ‘Kaafiyana’. Looking forward to more such milestones.It is a great feeling to find it at number 1 place on Amazon.

All those reading this can buy your copy HERE. Visit the Goodreads page for Kaafiyana and leave your views.

This is my author’s copy 😀

Here is a slide show of some beautiful memories from the two-day Kaafia Poetry Festival. A few pix are sourced from Kaafiya FB page and the copyright belongs to the rightful owners. Sunny Lakharwal, thank you for permitting me to use your photographs in the slide show.

Thank you for sharing the joy.

Kaafiya ka Kaafila badhta rahe” as Yaseen says.

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