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Ghalib's bust installed at Chandni Chowk haveli

Sunday December 26, 2010 10:27:27 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: The legacy of the 19th century classical Sufi lyricist and poet Mirza Ghalib came alive Sunday when Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit installed the poet's bust at his haveli in Chandi Chowk area of Delhi's old quarters on the eve of his 213th birth anniversary.

Ghalib, born to a family of Turkish origin in Agra Dec 27, 1797, resided at the Gali Qasim Jaan haveli in Ballimaran from 1862 to 1869, the last years of his life.

The bust was commissioned by Mumbai-based Oscar-winning lyricist Gulzar and sculpted by renowned public installation and bust artist Bhagawan Rampure of Sholapur in Maharashtra.

More than 200 people, led by the chief minister and including Gulzar, writer-diplomat Pavan K. Varma, kathak danseuse Uma Sharma, director general of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Suresh Goel, High Commissioner of Pakistan to India Shahid Malik and members of the Ghalib Memorial Movement marched with candles and flaming torches to Ghalib's haveli at Gali Qasim Jaan from the Town Hall in Chandni Chowk, a distance of one km, to pay homage to the poet on the eve of his birth anniversary Monday.

The haveli, located in a narrow crowded alley lined with shoe shops, was restored by the Delhi Archaeological Survey in 2001. It is home to a small museum which displays some of the original manuscripts and rare photographs of Ghalib and his peers.

The procession, that stalled traffic in the bustling business neighbourhood of the ancient Mughal quarters of the capital, was accompanied by drummers.

Locals and scores of Ghalib fans joined the marchers, comprising writers, poets, lyricists, including some from Bollywood.

Mirza Ghalib, known for his Urdu poetry, chronicles and ghazals, began to write in Persian at the age of nine. After losing his father early in life, Ghalib was raised by his uncle. He settled in the capital after marrying into the Muslim nobility and was admitted to the last Muslim emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II's court as his poet-tutor.

The independnece war of 1857, however, disrupted the poet's life. Ghalib, who saw the decline of the Mughal empire and the horrors of the uprising, chronicled it in detail.

Installing the bust, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said: "I thank Gulzar for commissioning such a beautiful bust of Ghalib and artist Bhagawan Rampure for carrying it to the capital all the way from Maharashtra."

She also expressed her gratitude to the writer Pavan K. Varma, the Indian ambassador to Bhutan, for having kept "Ghalib's legacy alive in the 21st century".

"Varma, Gulzar and dancer Uma Sharma, the force behind the Ghalib Memorial Movement, were responsible for the installation of the bust," Dikshit said.

"The mansion at Gali Qasim Jaan used to be a timber shed till the last century. The Delhi archaeology department evicted the timber merchant and restored the haveli in 2001," Dikshit said.

Pakistani High Commissioner Shahid Malik, who was present with his wife, said: "Nothing could have been bigger tribute to the poet than the bust."

"Ghalib's poetry is taught at every Urdu school, college, university and academic institutions in Pakistan. I too read him in school," Malik told IANS.

Suresh Goel, the director-general of ICCR, who was born in the old city near Khari Baoli and grew up there, said: "The initiative should lead to serious efforts to revive old Delhi, not just the haveli".

Noted Bollywood lyricist and Ghalib fan Shellee, who has penned lyrics for the tracks in "Dev D", "Phas Gaye Obama" and "Acid Factory", said: "The move was inspiring. But it should not become a political 'tamasha' and the movement must remain an ongoing process."





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