BURLINGTON, MA– It was a great start for the Hindi Manch’s three-day national convention Friday night with beautiful poetry from renowned Bollywood actress Deepti Naval to India’s budding and well-known Hindi poet Aalok Shrivastav and from Indian-American poets to a young non-Hindi speaker who has immersed himself in learning Hindi: Richard Denton Ong from North Carolina.
The three-say National Hindi Convention, which is organized by New England Hindi Manch, has attracted about 1,200 people from around New England, Canada and 15 states across the United States, said Hindi Manch President Preetesh Shrivastava.
The event kicked off with a welcome from Jharna Madan, one of the key organizers of the event, and followed by a dance drama: Khoob Ladi Mardani Wo To Jhansiwali Rani Thi.”
The first segment of the convention was the poetry session, which was moderated by local poetess Sunayana Kachroo and Syed Ali Rizvi. The entire poetry session, in which eight poets participated, kept the audience engaged and spellbound.
There were some surprises.
The first recital “Mainn dhudhta woh ghadi jo haar ghadi mainn rakh saku” by 23-year-old Ayush Nalwaya from Michigan kept the audience engaged throughout. Alok Dixit from Norfolk, MA, made his debut as a poet for the first time on the stage and recited a poetry about how the mythical Ravana reincarnated himself through various ages and how each time the truth won. One poet, Sandeep Vyas from New Jersey, started to compose poetry only two years ago, and related with audience with a poetry that described how the immigrants have left one part of themselves in their country and the other part here. Poetess Ambika Sharma came from Canada. Alka Sharma from Shrewsbury, MA, sang her poetry.
The real surprise of the evening, however, was Mr. Ong, a young American student from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who spoke in perfect hindi but with an American accent. A history student at the university, Ms. Ong got interested in Indian culture and started to learn Hindi and Urdu, and then started to compose poetry in Hindi. He recited: “Brichh marr raha hai mere khidki ke samne (The tree is dying in front of my window).”
Mr. Shrivastav, who has become popular at various Hindi and Urdu kavi sammelans and mushairas in India, kept the audience entertained and engaged through his serious but also humorous poetry. He joked with the co-emcee of the evening Ms. Kachroo: “Baat karen to labzo se khushboo aati hai, lagta hai iss ladki ko bhi urdu aati hai.” He recited: “Main jise dil se pyaar karta hoo, chahta hoo use khabar na lage.
Ms. Naval, who is known more as an actress for her starring roles in Hindi super hit movies like Chashme Buddoor, Saath Saath, Kissi Se Na Kehna, Katha and Rang Birangi, is also a poet and artist in her own right. She read poems from her first book Lamha Lamha (first published 1981 by Parag Prakashan and republished in 2013 by Hindi Book Center.)
Before she began reading her poetry, she briefly recalled her growing up in New York and taking subways to the City University of New York. She said when she would see Indian faces in the subway then, she will mention them in her family in the evening because there were so few Indians in the United States then.
“The work of Hindi Manch is very significant. It is amazing that 300 people are involved in this movement,” Ms. Naval said, adding that it was very touching to see so many Indians in the audience.
She recited a number of power from her first book Lamha Lamha, including this one:
“Jab bahut kuchh kehne ko ji chahta hai na,
Tab kuch bhi kehne ko ji nahin chahta.”
The poetry segment was organized by Hindi Manch’s Sahitya Vibhag, which is headed by Manish Srivastava.