LAHORE: “Faiz’s message was of peace,” Salima Hashmi told a packed crowd, recalling an anecdote from her father’s time in Hyderabad Jail. She said that her father had written that when he was released and his poems published he would buy new clothes, shoes and books for her and her sister, Moniza Hashmi.
Hashmi dedicated the festival at the Baghe Jinnah Open Air Theatre in Lahore to the people of Balochistan and reminded the audience that Faiz believed in peace and freedom above all.
The Faiz Amn Mela was organised by the Faiz Amn Mela Committee in collaboration with the Faiz Ahmed Trust Foundation. The event included poetry recitals, personal tributes and lives music for the general public.
“Faiz was a people’s poet,” said poet Khalid Javed Jan who recited his poem Mein Baghi Hoon. “Dictatorship and fundamentalism have impacted our social values but Faiz’s poetry teaches us to love peace hate war. That is why so many people have braved the weather to be here.”
Javed and other poets held a two-hour poetry recital which attempted to interpret and celebrate Faiz. Javed added that it was important that Faiz remained popular as it meant that people were being influenced by his beliefs and views of Pakistan.
The recitations included one in Bengali by Bangladeshi MP Moinuddin Khan Badal. The MP, who paid tribute to the people of the country and to the late poet, said that Faiz represented the social consciousness of his people.
Following the poetry recitals, live music included the band Laal and Jawad Ahmed. Faiz’s grandson Dr Ali Hashmi said the event was crucial in reminding people of the message behind the poetry and helping them connect to it.
“Some politicians have used the poetry selectively but it is our responsibility to remind people of the message behind the poetry,” said Hashmi. “Faiz was not writing to entertain or amuse people. Bringing the mela here with grassroots organisations is a conscious effort to reconnect with the masses.”
The Faiz Centenary celebrations will continue with two theatre performances by Lahore Grammar School children and a performance by Tina Sani who will be singing both Faiz and Iqbal.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2012.
More in PunjabMuavins appointed to 20 departments