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'Wake Up' - SAPNE Winter Meeting - Awakening

Geetha Patil and Bijoy Misra

“Wake Up” - SAPNE Winter meeting - Awakening (जागरण)

The year 2020 has been a year of sorrow, grief, helplessness and depression in the planet.  We were confronted with the havoc of a pandemic and we witnessed economic discontent and resulting conflicts all around the world.  People were oppressed by those in power causing misery and scare.  South Asian Poets of New England (SAPNE) tried to heal the wounds by creating a voice of “Awakening” (जागरण) in its 49th session that met virtually on Sunday, November 15, 2020.   Twenty-five poets joined the meeting to bring in the words of hope as a year-end invocation.

The regularly scheduled ‘Voice of The People’ became a voice of the poets to wake up the nation.  The pandemic and the possible relief from it did gain attention.  Powerlessness of the man on the street and the disrespect of human life was recognized.  Poets expressed their feelings in seven South Asian languages: Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Odia, Punjabi, Marathi, Sanskrit and English. 

Bijoy Misra welcomed all the poets to the event and thanked them for participating in the virtual meet. He acknowledged the support of Chandu Shah, Amandeep Singh and Maneesh Srivastava in hosting the meeting. 

Jayant Dave, the veteran Gujarati poet, opened the meeting with a short analysis of the theme.  He recited his poem in Hindi जागरण that alluded to the possibility of sudden awakening and realization of entering into another world at one’s demise.  It could be a reflection on the life lived and receive satisfaction or despair.                                                    

Atindra Sarvadikar, a scholar and a musician from Mumbai, tried to combine Deewali festival with the theme of awakening by singing a song, titled ‘Deep/ दीप â€™ in राग चारूकेशी, बंदिश (ताल तीनताल). This song described the concept that is deeply rooted in our Indian culture. The lights described in poem are not only physical lights but also as symbols of a deep self-realization or awakening which could happen when someone comes in contact with a Guru.  Manorama Choudhury in her Odia poem, ‘ଦେବୀସ୍ତୁତି’, chanted Divine Mother’s different names which represent her incarnation on the earth. “O! Mother, keep coming to this earth in different forms to destroy the evil spirits, bad qualities, or the demons in us. Forgive our wrong doings and bless us with the power of detachment from the worldly life!” 

Ambuja Salgaonkar, a scholar and a poet from Mumbai, presented a Sanskrit prose translation of ‘Mind Without Fear’ from Gurudev's Geetanjali. She followed up with a musical rendering in a Marathi translation to which music and voice was given by Dr Anjali Nigavekar, Shivaji University, Kolhapur.  Dinesh Shah, the veteran scholar and poet from Florida, recited his poem titled, ‘God, Please Wake Up’ in Gujarati language. The poet submits to God, ‘It appears that it is your defeat as there is too much darkness in the world. Tell me God, who carries your load of running this Universe?’  

Amit Khare, a Hindi poet, presented his Hindi poem, ‘कौन जाग्रति मई लाऊँ’.  How does one person among many take an initiative in creating awareness among people about wrong practices in society and bring changes? R. Balachandra, a retired Professor and a Kannada poet, recited his English poem, ‘American Awakening.’ His poem describes the stupor the country has been experiencing in the recent past when many evil things happening. The poet makes a plea for the country to wake up!  

Arun Chaudhuri, the social activist and yoga practitioner, recited his poem in Hindi, ‘निज जीवन की ज्योत’.  The poem encourages people to keep on defeating and removing the darkness (negativity) from their mind by illuminating their inner light through wisdom!  Chanchala Priyadarshini, a scholar and educationist, presented the Hindi translation of a poem written by Heather Corbally Bryant, titled, ‘Sitting Out the Solstice Under the Japanese Maple Tree’.  Written as part of the plain air poetry project at Old Frog Pond Farm in Harvard, Mass, this poem reflected on the idea of seeking refuge and renewal in nature extending to take responsibility and ownership for the racial tensions in the US. 

Sajed Kamal, one of the founding members of SAPNE, recited his English poem, ‘Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.’ “O Mirror! what do you see? Who do you see? Who am I? Who do I want to be? How do I get courage?” The poet seeks response to the unjust socio-cultural and hurtful economic practices that pervade the society. Preetpal Singh, SAPNE’s poet of sarcasm, followed with his Hindi poem हाथ नहीं मिलाना!   The poet acutely observed that the pandemic created a situation that people would not be able to greet each other and work together.  The curse is to spend time at home in trying to do something, while accomplishing ‘nothing!’ 

Sanjay Tripathi, a new poet, read his poem in English, ‘Diwali sprit and festivity.’ Describing various aspects of Diwali, the poet expressed hope that the festival may motivate and inspire people to be humble and compassionate to others. Bijoy Misra, the Convener for SAPNE, presented his poem, ‘ଅନାମ ବାଳକ’ ‘Nameless Boy’ in Odia language. The poem described the actual scene of a boy who stood at the electric pole outside the school every day.  The poem probed the emotions of the lonely young African-American teenager.

Amandeep Singh, a Punjabi poet and a SAPNE organizer, presented his poem, ‘ à¨…ਸੀਂ ਕਦੋ ਜਾਗਾਂਗੇ? When will we wake up?’ Harsh words, uncivilized behavior, ignorance, and endless greed engulf the humanity.  The poet wonders when the mankind will wake up from the sorry state.  Neena Wahi, a Hindi teacher and poet, presented her Hindi poem जागरण.  Our farmers, women, children, and the poor people are being oppressed. The poet urges people to wake up just like a sleeping baby would wake up from deep slumber.

Arundhati Sarkhel, a performing artist and poet, read two poems, ‘Awaking’ and ‘Awaking now.’ The first one was about how her mother taught children to love everyone. The second one encouraged the women to demand that their voices be heard. Sunanda Mishra-Panda, A Sanskrit scholar from Canada, recited her poem, "Deepam Jyoti Param Brahma"( ଦୀପଂ  ଜ୍ୟୋତିଃ ପରଂ ବ୍ରହ୍ମ), in Odia language.  The poem prayed to Mother Goddess, “Bless us and bring light to our lives which is darkened with the influence of Corona virus!”

Chandu Shah recited his Gujarati poem, Ek Virtual Kavita/ એક વર્ચ્યુઅલ કવિતા’ .  In the pandemic, the humans have become virtual; while the nature, birds, animals, rivers, lakes, and oceans are alive and animate!  The poem is virtual!  Mir Fazlul Karim, the Bangladeshi poet, presented his Bengali poem রাস্নার à¦œà¦¾à¦—রণ  (Rasnar Jagoron).  An awakening message comes from a helpless tiny wild orchid flower requesting the humans not to forget the small orchids that live in the same earth.  We must not destroy the nature and the plant! 

Geetha Patil, the poet and note-taker for SAPNE, recited her poem, ‘This Millennium’s Awakening.’ A  tiny Corona virus is making all realize their own wrongdoing in abusing the earth. We must take right measures to save this earth for the next generation.  Prem Nagar presented his Hindi poem, ‘कब ख़ुशीयोंके लहरेगें तार.’ We live in the world where democratic values and human decencies are challenged. When would the normalcy and the mutual respect be restored? 

Vasant Machwe, the retired Professor and poet, presented his Hindi poem, ‘जागरण’. The awakening is in three phases: the first phase peaks about the abundant progress we made as an intelligent society; the second phase is about the mistakes we made and are still making; and the third phase is about what we have to do to correct those mistakes and live with a Peace Mantra of universal brotherhood सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः .  Finally, Jaspal Singh, a founding member of SAPNE, recited his Hindi song, ‘जागो (Wake Up)’ in Bhairavi raga that addressed the plight and struggles of farmers in India and worldwide.  New laws are not helping them in either raising their revenue or paying off their loans.  The poet lamented on the massive suicide by the farmers. We are killing our own food supply!  Wake up! 

The video of the meeting is available in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnorEZ4d8as

The next meeting of SAPNE is scheduled for Sunday, February 14, on the theme “Voice of the Mothers and the Youth”.  SAPNE through its predecessor India Poetry Reading at Harvard University enters its twenty-fifth year in 2021.  Further information on SAPNE is available at the website https://www.sapne.boston. 

SAPNE wishes all an Awakened New Year!

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