The third Vimla Luthra Memorial Hindi Poetry contest was held as part of Hindi Diwas celebrations in Sydney in mid-September.
The contest was hosted by Sydney’s Indo Australian Bal Bharati Vidyalaya (IABBV) in memory of Vimla Luthra (1933-2017) who, despite coming to poetry late in life, won the community over with her poetic works.
Rachit Saini, Bianca Goel, Aditya Paul and Virat Mulay won in their respective age categories, Year 8-12, Year 5-7, Year 2-4 and Kindy-Year 1.
The Principal and Founder of IABBV Hindi School told Indian Link later, “Given COVID-related restrictions, the contest this time was a virtual event, with students and judges coming together via Zoom from their own homes.”
Any concerns she may have had were all put to rest, as the Hindi Diwas event went off without a hitch.
No doubt this is because the kids are all Zoom-friendly by now thanks to remote learning, besides of course being tech-savvy like their parents never can. But perhaps equal credit should go to coordinators Preeti Thadani and Shiven Lulla, who made sure the event progressed like clockwork, the rare technical difficulty efficiently smoothed over.
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The poetry recitals presented at this year’s Hindi poetry contest impressed with their breadth and quality.
In the senior students’ category, Rachit Saini’s first prize-winning Desh Ka Kachra was an ode to cleanliness and sanitation: he called for our cleaners to be given thanks as service providers, and for youth to make a pratigya (pledge) towards hygiene.
Reflecting her generation’s angst at environmental degradation, Bianca Goel’s poem on prakriti (nature) was not only poignant in its choice but also delivered with feeling.
Aditya Paul picked an all-time favourite, the patriotic poem Pushp Ki Abhilasha, reciting with the right intonation and much fervour.
Amongst the little ones, Virat Mulay with his Ped Lagao (plant more trees) was relaxed and natural, clearly enjoying his piece and therefore able to engage the audience.
A largely unifying theme in subject matter cut through the age categories this year: the determination to save our planet. With environmental issues predominating, it was quite clear we were dealing with Generation Greta.
Locked indoors in COVID times, perhaps the view out the window has been inspiring. The piece Ped Lagao in itself was popular, being picked at least half a dozen times. In other presentations, we heard Ped o ped, Ped ki kalpana, Agar ped bhi chalte hote, Ped bachao, Jeevan ka shringar ped hai.
While trees have inspired many great poets (Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) described them as “full of poetry”, and poet Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918) wrote he would “never see a poem as lovely as a tree”), this time around, the emphasis came with an urgent protectiveness towards nature and therefore resonated.
Check out the other topics: Dharti ki pukar, Prakriti ka roop, Dharti aur manav, Prakriti ki seekh, Nazren dekho prakriti ke, Sundar dharti, Prakriti, Ganga, Chhoti chhoti jal ki boondein, Chehchehati chidiya, Savera, Basanti hawa, Chidiya rani, Main tota, Chanda mama, Surj, Title, Hathi raja.
There might yet be hope for our planet.
The poet in Vimla Luthra would no doubt have been thrilled with this year’s Hindi Diwas contest.
Representing the Luthra family, her son Rajan Luthra noted, “As one who constantly reinvented herself by taking on new challenges, Mum would have been impressed by this Zoom event, happily logging on herself to recite a line or two.”
Judges Kusum Chaudhary, Santram Bajaj, Rekha Rajvanshi and Pawan Luthra, noted community litterateurs, commended the students for their participation, observing the high calibre this time around. Multiple winners were announced in many categories. Certificates and cash prizes have been awarded to winners of the Hindi poetry contest.
Earlier in the day, those logged on heard from special guests Consul General Manish Gupta, MPs Jodi McKay and Julia Finn, Councillors Philip Ruddock and Melissa Gould-Drakeley, and academics Dr Kenn Cruickshank and Dr Robyn Maloney, among others.
Mala Mehta, beaming at the end of the event, said, “Our bachchas, teachers, parents and the entire IABBV Hindi School Parivar – you made our first virtual Hindi Diwas celebration a success and did us all proud! Dhanyavaad to all who joined us in support of Hindi and of languages.”
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