Hasya Kavi-Sammelan: A Celebration of Poetry, Wit, Culture and Laughter

IHA board members with hasya kavis (center, above)

HOUSTON: International Hindi Association’s Houston Chapter ( IHA) annual Hasya Kavi-Sammelan is one of those occasions that offer the warmth, intimacy and a feeling of homeland India. On Saturday 13th April evening, poetry enthusiasts and connoisseurs of Hindi literature gathered at the GSH for a mesmerizing journey through ghazals, geet, satire, verses, jokes and laughter. It was not just an assembly of wordsmiths but a celebration of the vibrant tapestry of Indian culture in the form of jokes and poetry.

The esteemed poets who graced the event with their lyrical prowess this year were Arun Gemini ( who was the sutradhar), Shambhu Shikhar and Mumtaz Naseem.  Arun Gemini who is a seasoned veteran made the audience laugh incessantly at almost every sentence he spoke in his Haryanvi dialect and shuddh Hindi. The emerging voice of Mumtaz and Shambhu Shikhar promise a diverse array of perspectives and styles.

IAH board members with Col. Raj Bhalla, who received the “Hindi Swabhiman award.

Swapan Dhairyawan, Trustee of IHA National, opened the evening thanking the sponsors and generating the over 270 attendees with the quizzed about the esteemed poets. A special “Hindi Swabhimaan Puraskar”  award was conferred on Col Raj Bhalla(93), who was surprised but very gracefully accepted the honor.  His long service to the community and relentless effort to stay connected with Rashtrabhasha Hindi. Houston IHA Chapter’s President Sanjay Sohoni talked about the goals and visions of the IHA and implored people to join the membership and asked Hindi speaking volunteers to come forward to the Chapter goal of providing Hindi bhashik teachers at the various centers across the city. Thereafter the pioneer for the Chapter Sangeeta Pasrija briefly introduced the poets.

The event commenced with an invocation to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and the arts in the very melodious and resonating voice of Mumtaz Naseem.  Shambhu Shikhar, who entertained Houston crowd during Covid times on Zoom from India, was the first one to captivate the audience with jokes on his own persona and then about his home state Bihar. The attendees couldn’t stop laughing at his jokes. Then Mumtaz Naseem  took the stage captivating the audience with her soul-stirring ghazals that traversed the realms of love, longing, and spirituality.  But her verses on the current Kashmir situation with the neighboring country drew the most applause.  Her clear ans melodious recitation drew listeners into a world where every word carried the weight of centuries of poetic tradition.

Following her performance, the atmosphere brimmed with anticipation as the next poet, Arun Gemini stepped into the spotlight. His verses, wit and jokes, infused with a contemporary flair, themes of social justice, gender equality, and the complexities of modern life illuminated left a lasting impression on all who witnessed his artistry of simple and funny style.

As the evening unfolded, each poet brought forth a unique perspective, weaving together the rich tapestry of Indian culture and heritage. From the rustic charm of village life to the cosmopolitan bustle of urban centers, their lines resonated with the collective experiences of a diverse nation.

Laughter echoed through the hall as humorous couplets elicited uproarious responses, while moments of introspection drew forth nods of silent agreement. In this exchange between performer and spectator, the true essence of the Kavi-Sammelan was laid bare—a celebration of unity in diversity, where words became the bridge connecting hearts and minds.

As the event drew to a close the poets, audience, committee members all mingled and exchanged compliments.

Indian Summer catered a delicious dinner adding more charm to an already a very enjoyable evening.While leaving every guest was given a bag of goodies courtesy Deep Foods. For more information visit www.hindi.org or call 281-6907495.