The only people who never fail, are those who never try.
We’ve all heard that motivational quote before. Those of us who grew up in northern India heard of it in the popular poem Koshish karne walon ki kabhi haar nahi hoti.
It was clear that many young Hindi students were motivated by that thought, as a record number signed up for this year’s Vimla Luthra Memorial Hindi Poetry Competition.
Indeed that very same poem was heard from no less than four different contestants, in various age categories.
Held as part of IABBV Hindi School’s annual Hindi Diwas celebration, the competition gave kids aged 5 to 18 an opportunity to present their poems on stage.
The said poem was significant in another way, guest Rajan Luthra reminded the gathering on the occasion, as it truly captured the ‘never give up’ attitude of his mother Vimla Luthra, after whom the competition is named. A well-loved community figure, Mrs Luthra became a poet late in her life, producing two books and regaling audiences with her recitations. It was one of a number of new endeavours that she took up and mastered in the twilight of her life, such as swimming and driving and new age pursuits like Sudoku, thus perfectly encapsulating the words of poet Sohanlal Dwivedi, Koshish karne waalon ki…
(Yes, the poem is written by Dwivedi, but is often incorrectly attributed to Harivansh Rai Bachchan, as it was at this most recent IABBV event, simply because his son Amitabh made the most famous rendition of it).
Among the many presentations, we heard poems on quintessentially Indian themes – koel, baarish, garmi ki chuttiyaan, Hindu prayers, Holi, Diwali, Gandhi, even the importance of education especially for girls (which Vimla Luthra would have particularly enjoyed).
Patriotic works were a popular choice: poems based on Bharat desh, on the tiranga (Indian tricolour), on Jhansi ki Rani and Padmini, and that old classic Pushp ki Abhilasha by Makhanlal Chaturvedi took on special significance for the audience, as the service of our forces have been in the spotlight this year.
The little ones went for age-relevant themes like haathi, kela, pedh, chidiya, gubbare, Mummy-Papa.
The judging panel was made up of Santram Bajaj, Kusum Chaudhry, Darshan Behl and Rekha Rajvanshi, all of them well-known in the community as litterateurs.
Cash prizes were awarded to winners in four categories: Upto 6 years, 7-8 years, 9-12 years, and 13-18 years.
Ayaan Uttam, a winner in the younger kids category with his poem Chunnu Munnu, said afterwards, “Ganpati Bappa ne mujhe jitaya (Lord Ganesh helped me win)”. He had worn a yellow Ganesh kurta specially for the occasion.
Throughout the day, the 32-year service of IABBV Hindi School was acknowledged not only by founder and Principal Mala Mehta OAM, but also many of the invited special guests including Consul General of India Manish Gupta, MPs Geoff Lee, Julian Leeser (himself an ex-student), Julia Finn and Matt Kean, Multicultural NSW Chair Dr GK Harinath, and educationists Paul Cahill and Dr Robyn Moloney.
The special guests were also given a showcase of cultural activities by the students, including a skit on environmental awareness and dances in the Bollywood, Kathak, Dandiya and Bhangra styles.
Students who have excelled in Hindi as well as teachers who have served at IABBV for a long period were felicitated.
Mahatma Gandhi made a special appearance at this year’s Hindi Diwas at IABBV, given Indians the world over are marking his 150th birth anniversary this year. He watched on from his life-size cut-outs as the kids recited their poems, as Darcy Road Public School students sang Sabarmati ke Sant, as others presented the skit Bapu ka Uphaar, and as all attendees walked through an exhibition of photos devoted to his life.
The photographic exhibition, entitled ‘Mahatma Gandhi: My life is My Message’ is produced by India’s National Gandhi Museum and the Government of India’s Ministry of External Affairs. As an exhibition on the move, it has been seen by students in over 20 Sydney schools now.