Spreading the word : Listen to Urdu translations of Bhittai’s poetry online

Radio Pakistan veterans hope to launch the website by the end of May.


Z Ali May 08, 2011

HYDERABAD:


Fans and devotees of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, especially those who do not understand his work in Sindhi, will soon enjoy his poetry in Urdu on the internet.


The compilation of Bhittai’s poetry, Shah Jo Risalo, was translated into Urdu by writer Agha Saleem 10 years ago. A broadcast of his translations is being uploaded online from Radio Pakistan’s Hyderabad station and is expected to be complete by the end of this month.

Radio Pakistan announcer Noor Azhar Jaffri, who also worked as a deputy controller for the station, will be reciting as many as 6,000 verses [baits] and 225 waees. The 71-year-old has an immaculate and lucid delivery of works that truly lends quality to the verses, said Radio Pakistan, Hyderabad, director Naseer Mirza.

“The exercise of figuring out how to recite the verses took us over a year,” he told The Express Tribune on Saturday. Both Mirza and Jaffri have volunteered their services for the recording. “We did it as a passion rather than as a responsibility,” he said.

Bhittai, a legendary Sufi saint, is known more for his philosophy of love expressed through poetry, than for his miracles. His work remains, however, elusive for many owing to the difficult diction and language. Written entirely in Sindhi, his words are considered complex even by the users of this language. The first transliteration (Sindhi phonetically written in Urdu) of Bhittai’s poetry was done in 1955 by writer and scholar, the late Shaikh Ayaz. Jaffri’s recitations are, however, based on the works of Agha Saleem. Mirza believed that while Saleeem has retained the rhythm and meaning of Bhittai’s baits and waees, Ayaz’s work is more focussed on essence than on form.

“Shaikh Ayaz based his work on the Persian format as opposed to Saleem, who used the Hindi version,” he explained. “We had to make sure there was similarity in the rhythm of poetic recitation.” The aim of the earlier transliterations was to make the saint’s work accessible to the people of Pakistan.

But after the webcast, it is hoped that Bhittai’s followers from India and other parts of the world, who understand Urdu, will also enjoy his poetry. Mirza assured that, “we will give good publicity to the launch of the website”.

Although they have pioneered the first-ever, voice recording to Bhittai’s poetry, Mirza believed that the government should take a lead from their creation. “Voices such as Zia Mohyeddin’s and Talat Hussain’s can work wonders.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2011.

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