Shamm-e-Azadi on 140th death anniversary of Begum Hazrat Mahal in Metiabruz
Kolkata: On Sunday evening, April 7, Begum Hazrat Mahal of Awadh was remembered at the Sibtainabad Imambara built by her husband Nawab Wajid Ali Shah as Shamm-e-Azadi on her 140th death anniversary. The program was jointly organised by Social harmony campaign ‘Know Your Neighbour’ and Manzilat, the founder of which is the great great granddaughter of the two.
This was one of if its kind program in Kolkata where heritage enthusiasts, civil society members and academicians came together to remember the queen who bravely fought for India, and presented a fine example of communal harmony.
The program began with putting flowers on the graves of Wajid Ali Shah and the photograph of Beghum as she is buried in Kathmandu, Nepal, followed by the recitation of verses from Holy Quran by young local boy Md Kaif.
Manzilat Fatima welcomed an overwhelming number of over 100 participants at the Imambara to commemorate the 140th death anniversary of Hazrat Mahal. Blogger Madhuri Katti said, ‘it is very intriguing to see the how she had mobilized not just sepoy rebels but also Hindus, Muslims, Dalits, farmers, peasants, landlords, landless, men, women and everyone to fight the East India Company forces to win back Awadh’.
She had Rajah Jailal Singh, a Hindu local province raja as her commander-in-chief while her superintendent in-charge was her confidante Mammu Khan. When Uda Devi a brave dalit woman approached her with plea to allow women to join the troops, she trained her and made her the commander. Uda devi was probably first trained sniper who was discovered to be a woman under the armour only when she fell from the tree from where she had targeted and killed 32 British troopers.
Shaikh Sohail, Curator of heritage walk in the city, gave a detailed account of how the Nawab ended up in Kolkata while his Queen fought but was latter forced to take exile in Kathmandu. He also briefly mentioned about cultural contributions of Nawab who promoted art, dance and other forms of cultural expressions. He was himself a poet and patronized both kathak and thumri.
Awadh was at one time paragon of syncretic Ganga-Jamuni Tahzeeb. Researcher Sabir Ahamed, Know Your Neighbour Convener, explained the politics of History writing and how certain figures in history are monumentalised while others are conveniently ignored.
Young Zainab Fatima, great great great granddaughter of Beghum, also recited one of the poems Hazrat Mahal had written while in exile in Kathmandu.
There was also a very lively interactive session at the end, where audience that included reputed authors, teachers, Journalists, and civil society activists among others were present. Authors Jaya Mitra and Maryam Wali also shared their views.
The program ended with the national anthem.