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October 31, 2009

Urdu Academy pays tribute to Mirza Dabeer

Urdu Academy Report

Urdu Academy North America dedicated its September and October 2009 literary evenings to pay tribute to Urdu’s two great marsia nigars (elegy writers) -  Mir Babar Ali Anees  and Mirza Salamat Ali Dabeer,Glimpse-3 10-15-2009 The names of Anis and Dabeer are inextricable whenever Urdu Marsia is mentioned. Marsiya attained its zenith under the poetic genius of the two masters and the Marsiya became synonymous with their names. 

Urdu Academy North America’s October 15, 2009 literary evening was dedicated to the life and work of Mirza Salamat Ali Dabeer who is considered the leading exponent of Marsiya Nigari or marsiya writing along with his contemporary Mir Babar Ali Anees. The literary evening, presided by well-known Urdu enthusiast and poet Parwaz Anbalvi, was held at the Chandni Restaurant. The event was divided into two sessions. In the first session, skillfully conducted by Ahmar Shehwaar, poetry of Mirza Dabeer and special maqalas on his life and work were presented. In the second session, Tashie Zaheer, Arshad Mahmood and Parwaz Anbalvi presented their poetry.

Among those who presented Mirza Dabeer’s poetry included: Asem Bajwa, Dr. Tahir Mahmood, Mohammad Saleem, Abdus Sattar Ghazali, Ahmar Shehwaar and Tashie Zaheer.Audience-3 10-15-2009

Dr. Tahir Mahmood, Tashie Zaheer and Ahmar Shehwaar presented maqalas highlighting the life and work of the great marsiya nigar. Ahmar Shehwaar was of the view that the period of old marsiya nigari ended with the death of Mir Babar Ali Anees and Mirza Salamat Ali Dabeer. 

Mirza Dabeer was born in 1803 in Delhi. He started reciting marsiya since childhood during muharram ceremonial gatherings called majalis (singular-majlis). Dabeer was an erudite scholar of his time. Audience-5 10-15-2009He migrated from Delhi to Lucknow, where he found suitable environment to develop and demonstrarte his skills in marsiya writing. He died in 1875 at the age of 72 years. In his lifetime he has written about three thousand elegies.

Although Dabeer's poetic skill found best expression in the genre of marsiya but he made use of other forms of Urdu poetry, viz., salaam and rubai, he seldom wrote ghazals too.

Anees and Dabeer rivalry is the most debated and talked about rivalry in Urdu literature. Their rivalry led to the development of two distinct styles/schools of Marsiya-nigari or marsiya writing at its inception. The staunch supporters of each of the masters identified themselves as "Aneesiya" and "Dabeeriya". Parwaz Anbalvi believes that neither Anees was big nor Dabeer, they were of equal status in marsiya writing.

  Continued on page II