HYDERABAD: The fans of Sindhi poetry and literature celebrated the 90th birth anniversary of revered poet, the late Shaikh Ayaz, on Saturday. They held seminars, theatre performances of his dramas and musical nights across the province.
A group of Sindhi writers, poets, public figures and officers of the Sindh Culture Department laid chaddar and offered fateha at his mausoleum, situated close to the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, in Bhit Shah town.
The culture department launched 21 books, which are a compilation of all the 76 books of poetry written by Ayaz, at a ceremony on Saturday evening in Hyderabad. Sindh Culture Minister Sassui Palijo was the cheif guest. “Ayaz was a poet who gave an identity to Sindh. He wrote for the oppressed nations and classes with a revolutionary and romantic flair,” said Palijo, while speaking at the ceremony which was held in the auditorium of Sindh Museum.
Ayaz rose to prominence through his poetic compilation ‘bhanwar bharee aakash’ (Swirls in the sky), published in 1963. “He rebelled against absolutism and despotism in his poetry,” observed 97-year old Sindhi writer Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo.
His translations of Shah Jo Risalo, written by Bhitai in the 18th century, from Sindhi to Urdu language further put him on the map. His first fame, however, was the proverbial revolutionary poem ‘gaey inqalab gaey’ (sing revolution sing) written before the independence of Pakistan.
“Bhitai and Ayaz are the assets of Sindhi literature and will be remembered as long as Sindhi language is alive. His poetry gives us hope of a new dawn of freedom, rights and happiness,” said Joyo.
“I was inspired by Ayaz in my poetry about Sindh, its people, language and culture,” said Urdu writer Fatima Hassan. Sindhi writer Fehmida Hussain said that Ayaz’s revolutionary poetry during dictatorial and marshall law regimes drew multitudes to rebel for their rights.
Ayaz’s son, Dr Saleem Shaikh, recalled that his father always wanted that his grave should become a place for festival and inspiration and not of despair after his death. “He was a brave man who never feared death. And this was the strength of his truthfulness.”
Ayaz was born in Shikarpur on March 2, 1923. During the 74 years of his life before his death in December, 1997, he wrote 76 books on poetry mostly in Sindhi language. He also served on important official positions, including the vice-chancellor of Sindh University.
The poetry and literature buffs organised ceremonies to mark his birthday in Benazirabad, Ghotki, Larkana, Tando Muhammad Khan, Jamshoro and other districts.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2013.