Reading fest hosts treat for Urdu lovers

Students, cheered on by family and friends, compete in popular Bait Bazi poetry showdown

Students presenting a ‘mushaira’ before the UAE’s first Inter-School Bait Bazi Championship at Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Lovers of the Urdu language, both young and old, enjoyed a popular Urdu poetry contest known as Bait Bazi during an interschool championship at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) on Saturday.

Eight teams from as many schools across the UAE participated in the contest, cheered on by family, peers and friends at the Expo Centre Sharjah, which is hosting the 10th edition of SCRF from April 18 to 28.

Organisers said this is the first Bait Bazi school championship in the UAE. Bait Bazi is a popular verbal game in Pakistan and India that starts with the first participant reciting a stanza (bait) of a poem. Each following player has to respond with a verse that starts with the last letter of the verse that was recited by the previous player. The player who cannot respond loses.

On Saturday, the school teams, comprising three students per team, competed for the champion trophy, a Dh2,000 cash prize for the winning team, and certificates.

Islamiya English School, Abu Dhabi, won the contest, with Pakistan Higher Secondary School, Ras Al Khaimah, the runner up. Overall, six Pakistani schools and two Indian schools participated.

The championship was moderated by popular Pakistani poet Wasi Shah, who pointed out to the students that they would be judged not only on the poetry and responses, but also on the characteristic manner and style in which formal Urdu poetry is delivered.

Before the contest rounds, a group of girls demonstrated on stage how a traditional ‘mehfil’, or gathering of poets, unfolds, with each poet reciting a favourite poem, met with a chorus of lofty praise by others in the gathering.

The event was organised by Bazm-E-Urdu, which describes itself as the only group licensed by the Community Development Authority in Dubai promoting and celebrating the Urdu language in the UAE. The contest was held in association with the Pakistan Association Dubai and supported by Toshiba.

Rehan Khan, general secretary and founder of Bazm-E-Urdu, told Gulf News: “Our children are the future of all aspects of our society, which includes the beauty of Urdu poetry. By organising today’s event, we hope to encourage young poets and instill a love of poetry in children. It is a beautiful seed that we have sown today, and we hope it will eventually grow into a World Cup of Bait Bazi.”

    Pakistan Association Dubai. , Street 11b, Oud Metha Road,
    Bur Dubai ,
    United Arab Emirates
    04 2305000
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