Jashn-e-Azaadi: A Celebration of Indian Independence

It’s a fairly common sight in Manipal to see students flocking around in traditional wear in the spirit of Independence Day. While for some, this national holiday might bring joy because of the extra sleep they get, students all across campus showcased their patriotism through different means.

To celebrate India’s 72nd Independence Day, Goonj—Manipal’s premier Hindi literary society— organised Jashn-e-Manipal on the 15th of August, 2018 at the MIT food court. With an expected turnout of around 150 students, the floor was packed with enthusiastic first and second years waiting for the events to commence. MTTN had the opportunity to interview poet and Goonj member Vansh Tiwari on his thoughts about Hindi literature and here’s what he had to say.

MTTN: What is your current take on the state of Hindi literature here in India as well as in Manipal?

Vansh: From when Goonj started, there has been a sudden increase in the number of people who not only write but also choose to showcase their work (Hindi poems and stories). I think that here in Manipal, given the number of North Indians, the turnout at these events is always building up because people are more open to appreciating different kinds of art. But according to me, what escalated Goonj’s popularity, is the rise of the famous Indian poet Piyush Mishra. People started attending more events with certain expectations in their mind, and when met, collectively crowded with their friends the following time (chuckles).

MTTN: What inhibitions do you think people have about attending Hindi poetry recitals?

Vansh: I believe that a lot of people assume that they would not be able to understand the poems. Most people here have a working knowledge of Hindi but don’t understand the more poetic side of it. We’ve always worked on straightforwardly presenting relatable content, and although it’s true that some of us may use fancy Urdu words in our poems to add a bit of flair, almost everyone can get the overall gist. Apart from that, we always give a brief explanation before we start just in case someone feels like they might not understand it completely. So hopefully, in the coming semesters, we get a lot of audience from the non-Hindi speaking crowd here in MIT as well.

MTTN: What’s different about today’s event, at least from what Goonj has planned previously?

Vansh: To celebrate Independence Day, we had initially planned on a street play in association with Ada which got cancelled due to the rains. But apart from that, all the three poets, myself included, wrote about different angles of Independence and what it means to be patriotic. I can’t give away too much; you’d have to sit back and watch what we have planned!

MTTN: Thank you for your time, hope the event goes well.

With almost an hour in delay, the host, Saubhagya Chandna started off by welcoming the audience and sharing a few words on the martyrs, and the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters to get India to where it is today. With the initial sombrely proud mood set, three poetry recitals by Goonj members Vansh Tiwari, Chetan Sharma, and Saubhagya Chandna followed. The audience clung on to every word uttered, and the poets managed to evoke a strong sense of belonging through their poems. With various topics ranging from surgical strikes to boiling down to the essence of freedom, these perfectly hand-crafted words left the audience wanting more.

However, what followed was not short of stunning either. With a video about the Heroes of India presented, 150 pride-filled puffed up chests rendered a somewhat melodious Vande Mataram. Just as everyone thought that the event was done, more anecdotes and short poems followed along with dances by MAFIA and Showstoppers that left the entire crowd transfixed. All in all, there’s just something about Independence Day that gets even the least patriotic person to call themselves a proud Indian. Following the footsteps of Irshad, Goonj yet again managed to host a successful event which only goes to show that Hindi literature is on an uphill journey here in Manipal.

Pictures by Arnav Dev

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