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Of Persian Candy & Indian Parrots: A confluence of cultures; India & Iran

Iran and India have enjoyed socio-cultural, religious, political and economic contact since remote antiquity. The cultural interaction, the uninterrupted flow of people, materials and ideas between these two hoary civilizations has lasted for millennia and continue to shape the identities and destinies of our two peoples. The arts, attire, architecture and cuisine in India bear an indisputable Iranian imprint. And amid all this, the linguistic and literary transactions are the most enchanting.

We present to you a visual history of Indo-Persian arts & literature, an exhibition of artwork using photographs and facsimiles of folios from original manuscripts which are available in libraries and collections around the globe. Titled ‘A Confluence of Cultures,’ it presents a visual history of Indo-Persian arts and literature.

Evening of Indo-Persian Poetry Reading

The language of the court and spoken in the streets, Farsi has ruled hearts in India in the last millennium. Farsi was the language of choice for many Indian writers and poets and Farsi verse and prose have been immensely popular in India for centuries. If Maulana Rumi’s poetry is relished in Farsi and translated into Indian languages, Indian classics like Ramayana, Mahabharat and Shrimad Bhagwat Gita have been rendered into Farsi. Led by classical masters like Amir Khusrau, Bedil Azimabadi and Mirza Ghalib, hundreds of Farsi writers in the subcontinent have created an entire genre of Indo-Persian literature. Taking its title “Qand-e-Farsi wa Tutiyan-e-Hind’ (Of Persian candy and Indian parrots) from Hafiz Shirazi, an evening of Indo-Persian poetry recitation brings alive Farsi ash’aar penned over a thousand years in India in Dastan-Goi style.

An Evening of Poetry Reading & Exhibition

“Qand-e-Farsi wa Tutiyan-e-Hind,” Of Persian Candy and Indian Parrots, this line taken from renowned Iranian sufi-poet Hafiz Shirazi is the title of an out-of-ordinary programme – A Confluence of Cultures; India and Iran – being held in the national capital this month.

An exhibition comprising specially curated panels being displayed at the Main Art Gallery, Kamladevi Complex, India International Centre from September 23rd to October 1st, 2016, is accompanied by an evening of Indo-Persian Poetry Reading at the Multipurpose Hall, IIC, on September 28th at 6.00 pm.

Presented by Jashn-e-Bahar Trust, the first ever such programme conducted in zabaan-e-Farsi, showcases the history of Indo-Persian literature and its role in shaping our syncretic Ganga-Jamni tehzeeb.  H.E. Gholamreza Ansari, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to India, will be the Chief Guest at the poetry evening on September 28th. Prof Seyed Ehtesham Hasnain, Vice Chancellor, Jamia Hamdard University will be the Guest of Honour while eminent writer and journalist Kuldip Nayar will preside over the function.

“The literary interaction between Iran and India starts with the translation of the Panchtantra into early Farsi or Pehlavi. Then on, from Rumi’s poetry being relished in Farsi and translated into Indian languages to the Bhagwat Gita and the Upanishads in Farsi, to Farsi Ash’aar and Farsi travelogues; and tomes like Baburnama and Akbarnama – the list is comprehensive,” says Kamna Prasad, Founder Jashn-e-Bahar Trust.

“We are mounting an exhibition of photographs and facsimiles of folios from the original manuscripts curated from various libraries and collections across the country and abroad. Each display comes with an information brief in Farsi and English which tells the viewer about the selected item,” she says.

“The Cultural Evening showcases the best of Farsi poetry in India through the ages in Dastan-goi style. A selection from indo-Persian poetry through the centuries is read by eminent scholars and performers with a narrator providing interesting facts and background of the works being read. We select the passages to represent a historical chronology of the influence of Persian in Indian literary writing,” she adds.

The evening’s performance is brought to you by eminent Farsi scholar Dr Syed Akhtar Husain, Associate Professor in the Centre of Persian & Central Asian Studies, JNU, visiting research scholar at Tehran University and President, Institute of Indo-Persian Studies; and Shafaq Matloob and Syed Md Kazim, both research scholars at JNU.

The programme is being presented with the support of Arthshila and India International Centre.

Indo-Persian Poetry Reading on Wednesday, September 28th, 2016, at the Multipurpose Hall, India International Centre, 40, Maxmuller Marg, New Delhi, at 6.00 pm. The evening is accompanied by a specially curated exhibition presenting a visual history of 

Indo-Persian arts and literature at the Main Art Gallery, Kamladevi Complex, India International Centre from September 23rd to October 1st, 2016.

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