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Agra to mark people's poet Nazeer Akbarabadi's birth anniversary

Agra, Feb 14 (IANS) Come Basant Panchami Friday, the Taj city will fondly remember one of Urdu poetry's earliest and greatest poets Nazeer Akbarabadi, a poet who sang of subjects like roti, kite-flying, love and romance, childhood and old age.

The poet's modest tomb in Taj Ganj will light up Friday as admirers queue up to pay homage to the 18th century poet. For most part of the year, his tomb lies in a dilapidated state. Only on Basant Panchami does it spring back to life as a 'mushaira' is held.

The Agra Nagar Nigam and the Agra Development Authority took the initiative to provide a canopy to cover the tomb and spruce up the area to draw in tourists who visit the Taj Mahal, barely 100 metres away, some years ago, but in absence of upkeep, the whole area has again turned into waste patch.

It was Nazeer Akbarabadi who gave Agra a new identity through his poetry. Called the people's poet, he wrote about ordinary things that touched the hearts of both Muslims and Hindus, like festivals, dance and theatre, bird fights and kite-flying. He looked at the follies of royalty with disdain but sang lyrically about the antics of Lord Krishna and poked fun at fundamentalists.

Born in Delhi around 1735, Nazeer felt suffocated in the Mughal capital's ambience of court intrigues, and frequent vandalisation by invaders, so he moved over to Agra with his family to settle down in Taj Ganj mohalla, a few hundred metres from the Taj Mahal.

Nazeer was obsessed with his love for the Taj Mahal. The story goes that once he decided to leave Agra for greener pastures but returned after walking some distance when he lost sight of the 17th century monument to love.

Unlike his contemporary Mir and Ghalib who were for the elite, Nazeer wrote for the "aam aadmi," using Braj Bhasha (local dialect) freely and often breaking through the shackles of grammar and the rigid discipline of metres.

"Which great poet would dare write on mundane or trivial subjects like til ke laddoo, bachpan (childhood), Agre ki tairaki (Agra's swimming), Holi, bhang, Kanhaiya ji (Krishna)," asks Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society, noting Nazeer is closer to Agra than Ghalib who turned to the courts and high society, while Nazeer focused on poverty and livelihood.

Indo Asian News Service

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