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
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
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