Srinagar: Vomedh, a social and cultural organization in Jammu and Kashmir, celebrated the “International Mother Language Day” on Monday with a varied and entertaining program at Tagore Hall in Srinagar.
The event was attended by a large audience of people of all ages who wholeheartedly enjoyed the day-long cultural extravaganza.
“February 21 is celebrated as Mother Tongue Day and Vomedh organized this cultural extravaganza on February 20. Our plan to celebrate Mother Tongue Day in the Valley has generated a lot of interest and curiosity,” said Manzoor Ahmad Mir, a renowned theatrical, competition jury and member of the organizing team.
“We announced a competition for the children where they were to send us their videotaped performances in Kashmir. There was an overwhelming response and we got over 100 entries,” Mir said.
“We have also received requests to keep the program final on a Sunday so that as many people as possible can participate,” he added.
Rakesh Roshan Bhat; the host of Pagah, renowned playwright and mentor of Vomedh, said: “The Pagah project is one of his initiatives for the preservation and promotion of the Kashmiri language. As part of the Pagah project, we plan to popularize the language in everyday life.
“Kashmir being our mother tongue, should be our first language in all age groups. It should be spoken, heard and seen everywhere. Why should it remain confined to certain age groups and demographic groups? It should develop on all fronts,” Bhat added.
“Everything that does not grow gradually dies. We want to work for a better future in the Kashmiri language and that is why we named this project ‘Pagah’ which means tomorrow in Kashmiri,” he explained.
The program began with a welcome dance performance from Rouf by Shagufta and his team.
It was followed by a welcome speech by Rakesh Roshan Bhat who explained why Vomedh is inspired and motivated to work for the preservation and promotion of the Kashmiri language.
He officially launched Project Pagah and also talked about the goals and plans of Project Pagah.
The best selected artists of the Koshur competition for children were congratulated. They received certificates and cash prizes.
An interactive and thought-provoking panel discussion titled Kath t’ kalam, moderated by eminent literary personality Arvind Shah.
Eminent personalities in their respective fields; namely – Ayaz Arif, Manzoor Ahmad Mir, Shaad Ramzan and Shaista Ahmad participated in the roundtable.
Panelists explained how language preservation must start at home and in early childhood.
The mother tongue must be the first language.
They also talked about encouraging and popularizing the mother tongue outside of schools through electronic and social media.
Arvind Shah effectively moderated the discussion and summarized key points at the end.
The panelists also responded quickly to questions from the audience.
Kashmiri stand-up acts by popular social media creators Behzaad Malla and Anil Chingari captivated the audience.
They were also congratulated on the occasion for choosing the Kashmiri language to showcase their talent and thus help to make Kashmir popular among the youth.
In the second half, the audience was treated to a haunting musical performance by famous singer Gulzar Ahmad Ganai and his crew, as well as a Kashmiri tickle comedy called Gaad Bateh.
Vinay Pandita, Rahul Kilam, King C Bharti, Puneet Bali, Pummy Zutshi and Bharti Kaul performed in the play. Gaad Bateh was written by Rakesh Roshan Bhat and directed by Rohit Bhat.
The first PAGAH event also marked the announcement of the annual PAGAH awards for their contribution to the promotion of Kashmiri language and literature.
The PAGAH Awards for the year 2022 were awarded to two prominent literary personalities who have worked extensively in the field of Kashmiri literature and language.
The winners were Arvind Shah and Shaad Ramzan. Arvind Shah is an accomplished writer, poet and translator and Shaad Ramzan is a well known poet and critic.
Manzoor Ahmad Mir presented the vote of thanks.
“It’s a good start for a long journey together. I hope that we can synergize all the efforts and that this type of initiatives can act as a catalyst and a force multiplier”, said Rohit Bhat, the organizer and president of Vomedh.
“We are very happy with the kind of participation we have seen and the support we have received from people in general. I want to express my gratitude to everyone and I hope that we will also continue to benefit from similar support in the future,” he added.