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SUNEHADE - An Afternoon Of Soulful Punjabi Poetry

Amandeep Singh

SUNEHADE - An afternoon of Soulful Punjabi Poetry at Shrewsbury Public Library

Poetry is a flowing river, an eye’s twinkle, a feeling of ineffable bliss, ecstasy and oneness with the divine or the beloved!

PUNJAB - The land of five rivers has a long history of producing some of the most subtle poetry that has transcended religious boundaries. Wherever Punjabi’s have settled, they have kept their culture and literature alive. To celebrate Punjab’s poetic and literary traditions, the New England Punjabi Association based in Shrewsbury MA, organized its first Punjabi Poetry Recitation event at the Shrewsbury Public Library on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Poetry lovers of all ages from the Greater Boston area attended the program. 

Kamal Chadha welcomed everyone and recited two poems by poet Navtej Bharti titled Pyar di Kavita and Kitabi jiha. In Pyar di Kavita (Ode to Love), the poet explains that although his tongue might be pierced, his pen broken, his fingers crushed, he will write an Ode to Love. Otherwise, children will forget riding on horses of peels, finding new islands on their paper boats. Girls will shy away from writing love letters, women suffering violence will lose hope. In Kitabi Jiha, the nerd, the author writes from a woman’s perspective. The woman, talking to her husband/ companion expresses her desire to make him more human when he is too scholarly.

Roop Jyot Kaur recited a poem Baba Bulleh Shah titled Ranjha jogda ban aya, in trannum(by singing instead of speaking it) in her melodious voice. Baba Bulleh Shah (1680-1758), born in Kasoor, Pakistan, was a great Punjabi Sufi poet, whose poems, songs and Kafi’s are famous in the whole Indian subcontinent, due to its simplicity and heart-touching metaphors.

She also recited a poem by Shiv Kumar Batalvi titled Asan te joban rutte marna

Asan te joban rutte marna
Murh jaana asaN bhare bharaye
Hijar tere di kar pirkarma
Asan te joban rutte marna
Joban rutte jo bhi marda
Full bane ya tara
Joban rutte ashiq marde
Ya koi karmaN wala

I’ll die young
I’ll go back full-bloomed
Feeling the pangs of your separation
I’ll die young
One who dies young
Becomes a star
Only lovers die young
Or someone who is lucky enough!

Kiran Nath, an eminent Boston area poet and singer, delighted the audience with her Punjabi love poems Tennu takkdi rahvan, Mahiya and Bas tere ki kachya Ghadia from her books Shaayara and Meherbaan, with her mellifluous voice. Her poems are filled with the everlasting love.

Sarabpreet Singh, a Boston area scholar and playwright, beautifully rendered two Kafi’s by Shah Hussain (1538-1599), a great Sufi poet, who was a pioneer of the Kafi style of poetry in Punjabi.

Main vi jhok Ranjhan di jana
Naal mere koi challe

I too want to go to my beloved’s (Ranjhan) abode
If someone could accompany me!

Name Ranjha/Ranjhan (from Heer-Ranjha fame) is often synonyms with God in Sufi Poetry.

Preetpal Singh’s self-composed, very humorous poem America wich rehan de Mazay had the audience laughing. In it, the poet described the luxurious life in America, and yet longs for the simple life in Punjab.

On the same theme, sorrows of leaving their motherland, Amandeep Singh recited his poem Pardes. After living for many years in a foreign land, the poet considers it as his home, motherland. Amandeep Singh also recited the Sunehade a poem composed by Amrita Pritam. 

NaviN rut da koi sandesh dena
Es kani di laaj nu palna ve
Boor pave je zameen de rukh utte
Tahni Aman di Umar da alhana ve!

Send a message of a new season
And uphold the honor of the pen
If the tree of the land blooms
then its olive branch is ours forever home!

Sarabjit Singh Thiara recited his poem titled Do Kalian, about the martyrdom of the young Children of Shri Guru Gobind Singh ji.

Parmit Singh, a Hindi poet, beautifully rendered Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s poem Shikra, although he is not a native Punjabi speaker, he appreciates Punjabi Poetry esp. Shiv’s poems.

Maye ni maye main ik shikra yaar banaya
Uhde sir te kalgi te uhde pairiN jhanjar
Te oh chog chugenda aya

Oh, my mother, I befriended a hawk
Who has a crest on his head and anklets on his feet
And he came pecking at the grains!

Subhash Chander, Punjabi and Hindi poet, recited a couple of poems by famous contemporary Punjabi poet Surjit Patar.

Mera Suraj dubbia hai, teri shaam nahi
Tere sir te taN sihera hai ilzaam nahi 
Inna hi bahut hai ki mere khoon ne rukh sinjya hai
Ki hoya je pattian te mera naam nahi

My Sun has set, it is not your evening
You have laurels on your head, not accusation!
It is enough that my blood had watered a plant
I don’t care if my name is not etched on the leaves!

Subhash Chander also recited one of his own poem Manzil or destination, every destination has many travelers, but it is not necessary that all travelers have a destination!

Harpreet Singh, a Harvard scholar of South Asian traditions and languages and a co-founder of the Sikh Coalition, recited few couplets of Saif-ul-malook by Mian Muhammad Bakhsh (1820-1907). Saif-ul-malook (also a beautiful lake in Pakistan) is heart-touching divine poetry (Qissa) about Prince Saif-ul-malook’s love for fairy Princess Badi-ul-Jamal and his journey to find her. The essential message of the poetry is not to love the beauty per se but to love the One who made the beauty!

BedardaN di yaari aivein, jime dukan loharaN
Kapade bhaveN chun chun bahyie, chingaN pain hazaaraN
DardmandaN di yaari aivein jiveN dukan ataraN
Sauda bhaveN layeeay na layeeay hulle aan hazaaraN

Friendship of the heartless is like a shop of the ironsmith
No matter how carefully you sit, you are showered with sparks of fire
Friendship of the compassionate is like a shop of scents
Even if you don’t buy anything, you will still are delighted by scents.

Rashid Sheikh, representing West Punjab, recited few verses from Baba Bulleh Shah’s poetry. He also recited his original funny poem about buying a house in America.

Masjid dhah de, mandir dhah de, dhah de jo kujh dhehnda
Par kise da dil na dhahiN, Rabb dillaN wich rehnda

Tear down the Mosque, the temple, and all the shrines
But don’t break someone’s heart, where God resides

Dr. Ajit Kaur Chadha recited a prayer from the Gurbani and her poem about bravery and martyrdom of Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur ji.

The program ended with acknowledgements from Kamal Chadha on behalf of the group to thank Amandeep Singh and Vikram Chhabra who helped with the logistics of this event.

The next Punjabi Poetry meet will be in the fall.

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