In the past 50 – 60 years social organizations or social workers in the Sindhi community have organized various cultural programmes and get-togethers to bring about an awakening. That has had some effect to an extent and in the past 60 years there has been some kind of interest seen amongst Sindhis. All over India many cultural programmes are being organized. But if we look at the audience, we find that we tend to see the same faces every time, in every function, be it at cultural programmes, drama or musical programmes. As the organizers themselves say that when preparing the list of invites, the same number about 400 – 500 invites are sent and it doesn't go beyond this figure. If we look at the audience we find 90 – 95% senior citizens and elders. So will our motive of organizing these cultural programmes to keep our culture alive, be beneficial or not? Or should we say that these cultural programmes, which are being organized, have been just a means of entertainment for our elders, as they already have a thorough knowledge about Sindhi culture and have great attachment towards Sindhi heritage. Is it only for their entertainment that these programmes are being organized?
Recently, I attended some Sindhi programmes in Mumbai, where I saw the same number of youngsters, approximately 5%, as mentioned earlier. I noticed one youth Sanjay Sippy who is now very active on the Sindhi cultural scene. I could feel that he is thoroughly enjoying the programme and is satisfied with it. My dear friend Ranjit Butani also observed this and we decided to interview Sanjay to get a better understanding about his love for Sindhyat.
R. Jawhrani : Sanjay, at the outset, I would like to know whether these cultural programmes are beneficial for our youngsters? They are rarely seen at such events. Any suggestions to encourage their presence?
S. Sippy : First of all I would like to mention that when I was about 4 – 5 years old, we used to speak in English and Hindi at school and with my friends, but my parents used to speak with us in Sindhi only. In childhood, my maternal grandfather used to take us in his lap and give us some mint flavoured sweets and a 1 rupee coin daily, but on the condition that we had to tell him one new Sindhi word everyday. In that excitement of earning a rupee and the sweet, we used to go home and ask our parents a new Sindhi word. In this way our elders planted the seed of Sindhi in our minds. It is because of our parents, that we are able to understand and speak in our mother tongue. I am grateful to them. My young friends nowadays feel shy in speaking Sindhi. They find Sindhi speaking to be outdated. I feel that parents should start speaking our sweet language with their children at an early age. They should inculcate in them this feeling of being proud to speak in Sindhi. Why do we call it the 'mother tongue', because a mother always loves her child. So the youngsters should start speaking in this beautiful language.
R. Jawhrani : Sanjay, you are fortunate that you got such a grandfather who planted the seed of Sindhyat and this feeling of love for Sindhi language by bribing you with sweets and other things. But here I am talking about those parents who haven't encouraged their children to speak or learn Sindhi. What will happen to those children? And let us know among the cultural programmes - musical, ballets or stage dramas, what you enjoy the most,?
S. Sippy : I love all the programmes, they are so good, be it the dance or the music or the comedy plays. One thing I have noticed in our dramas is that they focus more on the past, the Sindh that we have left behind. I wish they should bring on something new.
R. Jawhrani : There is a reason behind this. Most of the dramas were written during the immediate post-partition period. Slowly that also stopped. So the older writers who wrote those plays were unable to forget the pain of partition. Therefore, in their writings one could find that pain and the memories of Sindh. So their point of view was quite different and I agree with what you say, that we must forget our past when we have the entire future lying in front of us. We should write plays relating to the moving times. For that we must encourage new young writers who definitely will come up with new ideas.
You have keen interest in music and stage. You are also well connected with the artists. You also watch English and Hindi dramas. Let me know the difference in our music and plays? How different are they from the Sindhi dramas?
S. Sippy : In the plays that we see in English and Hindi nowadays, many artists are Sindhis. These same artists are not trying to bring in something new to the Sindhi stage. They are still going on with the same old ideas and ways. Well they can't experiment with something new because today people go to see the play only if they have a free pass. No one is ready to purchase a pass to watch a Sindhi play. I request all the Sindhis that they should purchase the passes and watch the plays so as to encourage the Sindhi artists. In this way they can hire more creative people and advanced hi-tech computerized equipment which are easily available today. Our Sindhi artists who are working socially are not having that much capacity to produce such plays.
R. Jawhrani : Yes you are right we have talented artists as well as modern techniques, but we don't have the required funds to provide training to our artists or the time they require for practice. We don't get finance because we don't sell the tickets. So if our tickets are fully sold out like in Hindi plays then there will be tremendous improvement.
The biggest problem we face today is that we find it very difficult to sell the tickets. To sell the tickets first of all it should be publicized and people should feel that when we purchase these tickets we will be entertained for three hours. But there is not guarantee for this. If we get free pass, it doesn't matter if we go one hour early or one hour late. I feel that discipline is a must. What are your views on this? Will people come?
S. Sippy : People will definitely come. But we are not advertising properly in the media. In the newspapers, when you open the entertainment pages, you will find advertisements of Gujarati plays, Marathi plays etc. But you won't find any advertisement of a Sindhi play. There is one solution for this. We should hire distributors just as there are distributors who are into this business of marketing films. We have so many Sindhi distributors who sell films of other languages and earn a profit also. So if we advertise in the proper way I am sure that people will come and even the youth will come. I try to coax my friends and distribute passes amongst them to encourage them to come and watch the Sindhi plays. But I want them to purchase these passes because only when they purchase will our Sindhi plays progress further. Our plays go all over the world to Dubai, America, Australia etc. If we are able to campaign properly then even the Sindhis who are staying abroad will come forward to purchase the tickets and watch the plays.
R. Jawhrani : Today we are going through such times that we have to tell our children, we are Sindhis and our mother tongue is Sindhi. This is because they are not getting that required environment. Only with Sindhi dramas, Sindhi music or Sindhi dance can the Sindhi language be kept alive? This is a big question. Sanjay, I would like to ask you other then the stage or vocal culture do you see any other way to keep our Sindhi language and culture alive. The coming times are to be taken care by youngsters like you. The present generation will complete its journey and hand over the baton to you. What do you think, what should be done to take this further from here?
S. Sippy : We have so many educational institutes being run by Sindhis – schools and colleges. In these institutes, Sindhi language should be made mandatory. And some should offer to teach Sindhi to those also who have completed their education. This is one of the solutions.
R. Jawhrani : You mean to say that Sindhi should be taught right from the beginning in the schools and should be made compulsory. But nowadays we don't have the required means for the same. At some places we have the students but no teachers to teach Sindhi and at other places we have the teachers but no students to learn Sindhi. The Sindhi medium schools have closed. A 'Sindhi Certificate Course' has been recently started about 7 years back by Sahyog Foundation along with Mumbai University. Could that help?
S. Sippy : Definitely! Infact we must encourage this much more. Many people are not even aware that such a course exists. After a certain age every person feels something for his mother tongue, he feels that neither can he speak nor his children. So if he knows that such a course exists then he can go and learn. These certified courses are a fantastic idea.
R. Jawhrani : So teaching Sindhi through private classes is also a brilliant idea. You have a flourishing business in Sippy Housing Agency, with lots of clients and contacts. You must be attending the festivals celebrated by various people. How much are you interested in Sindhi festivals? Which Sindhi festivals are you aware of?
S. Sippy : I would like to say that Hindi is inside Sindhi. We have so many festivals in India like Diwali, Holi etc. which are celebrated in a big way. I always participate in Cheti Chand, our Sindhi festival. We must glorify our festival of 'Chalio' which consists of 40 days fasting and try to bring more and more Sindhis to this festival.
R. Jawhrani : So you enjoy these festivals which are celebrated as per our customs and traditions, like in the 'Chailo Saheb' during which for 40 days pooja is organized of Lord Jhulelal and we remove the 'Bahrana'. We also have the tradition of lighting the lamp and performing pooja on the banks of river or the sea shore to worship the lord of water. We also perform what is called 'akho payun tha'. Do you know about all these customs and traditions?
S. Sippy : I see my elders performing it and I like it very much.
R. Jawhrani : Now when you see the generation which has the knowledge about Sindhi culture and tradition is coming to an end, do you feel that in future we shall only read in books that there were Sindhi people who spoke Sindhi language. Have you ever given it a thought?
S. Sippy : Sindhis will always remain. Without Sindhis the earth will stop rotating.
R. Jawhrani : But this fear exists. Nowadays inter-caste marriages are taking place and even Sindhis are a part of this. What do you feel about this?
S. Sippy : Well, it is a matter of love. But if Sindhis stick to Sindhis then more and more Sindhi children will be born and our Sindhi population will increase. This should be our topmost priority. I am of the opinion that our Sindhi population should increase. Infact I feel that if people come to know the advantages of being a Sindhi then they can get converted to Sindhis.
R. Jawhrani : We belong to that community which never interferes with other's religion. We are those who follow the laid down principles. One more thing I would like to ask is why are not many Sindhis coming forward and taking active part in politics? What should be done in this regard?
S. Sippy : We have so many youngsters who are business-oriented. Infact our whole Sindhi community is business-oriented. Every field, be it politics or the government does require a leader. So even we must have a few such leaders who can represent us and can communicate our rights to others. It is necessary to have leaders in our community.
R. Jawhrani : You mean to say that our community which is basically a business oriented community where a child as he grows up takes up his father's business, should change this attitude and follow the times. They should not only be businessmen but also try to become bureaucrats, enter the media, have knowledge of politics and should also appear for exams like the IPS and IAS etc. By being present in all fields we shall be able to protect our community by ourselves.
S. Sippy : Exactly.
R. Jawhrani : There are many organizations who are doing a lot to save the Sindhi language and Sindhi culture. But I feel that vocal culture and theatre should be presented as per the modern times. We should have the stage set-up with the help of modern technique, costumes and subject should be suited to the modern times. While doing all this one thing should be kept in mind that our basic culture should not be effected. The picture of our culture will be the same only the colours should be changed relating to the modern times. Only then will youngsters be attracted towards this. Once they come, I am sure, they will definitely like our folk songs, folk music etc. There is lot of scope in the dance dramas specially those of Shah Latif like Sasi-Punhu, Rano-Moomal etc. When all this will be compared with other cultures then our culture will not be anyway less than them.
S. Sippy : Definitely, I totally agree with you on this and will do whatever, in my capacity and to the extent I can towards this cause.
SINDHISHAAN is proud to present the “torch bearers” of Sindhyat who will take up the mantle from our generation, breathe fresh life into a seemingly dying cause and promote our culture and heritage not only within our own community but take it far and wide into new frontiers showcasing the glorious Indus Empire of SINDHIS.
MAY A THOUSAND SANJAYS BLOOM!