The other day my colleague Payoshni shared a little gem she found on Twitter : A dictionary for children written by Ghalib
. The link sent me off in other directions to learn more about this website.
Launched in 2013, Rekhta
‘s objective is to promote and disseminate Urdu literature, especially Urdu Poetry to an audience beyond those conversant with the Urdu script
Unveiled in January 2013 at a ceremony in India Habitat Centre, the site offers everything from ghazals and couplets to audio clips and poets’ biographies, all available at a few clicks of a mouse. The word ‘rekhta’ meaning “scattered, mixed, the old name of Urdu poety.”
The 54-year-old Mr Saraf does not fit the stereotype of an Urdu poetry connoisseur. He is neither Muslim, nor does he live in Purani Dehli. An IIT alumnus, he is the founder and chairman of Polyplex Corporation, a Rs 2,500 crore multinational and one of the world’s largest producers of polyster film. “My father was fond of ghazals and I grew up listening to Begum Akhtar, Ghluam Ali and Farida Khannum,” he says, adding, “about two years ago, I stepped back from the business to focus on my passion, ghazals. However, I was quickly disillusioned with what was on the net — no credible sources, incomplete verses, often only in Urdu script with unreadable fonts. A vast treasure of poems, I feared, would be lost if it was not properly digitized, archived and preserved.”
In mid-2011 Mr Saraf set up a team of 15 archivists to produce a website on everything related to Urdu poetry. A 10-member panel comprising university professors, poets and research scholars was formed to check for authenticity of the published material and to advise on the most representative selection of the work for each poet. (Ahmad Mahfouz, professor at Jamia Millia Islamia University and leading expert on Mir, was contacted to shortlist the poet’s repertoire of more than 2,000 ghazals.) Books for cross-reference were sourced from Maktaba Jamia bookstore in Old Delhi’s Urdu Bazaar and the Sunday book market in Daryaganj.
“Rekhta will remain ad free,” says Mr Saraf. “It is not just for those who have a curiosity for Urdu, but also for those whose hearts are touched by poetry.”
Rekhta: A Site for Urdu Poetry Lovers