INTERNATIONAL SINDHI SAMMELANS
By Arun Babani
Dr. Satish Rohra cites a strange but believable reason for Sindhis attending sammelans : to connect to the community. By attending a Sindhi sammelan, he says, we are proclaiming our bond with all the Sindhis of the world. A reasonable argument indeed While Dr. Rohra’s is a mature and philosophical view point, some youngsters we spoke to, seemed to be interested in being a part of sammelans for a simpler reason : to find new friends, from distant corners of the world, getting to know them, learn from them and possibly tying a knot if things work out. This again seems like a reasonable reason to be a part of the International Sindhi sammelan. Youth, with its curiosity and wonder, gains access to varied type of Sindhi culture and spread throughout the world. They get to taste Sindhism from many other dimensions and this feels interesting and juicy.
The middle-aged Sindhi folk, born just before partition, speak excitedly about Sindhi food, Karhi-chawar, Sindhi bhagat, sherwani-topi, in short, a mind blowing shot of Sindhi roots as their reason to participate in sammelans. Sindhi women enjoy meeting Sindhi ladies from distant lands, sharing their experiences and gossiping about grocery, girls and garments. Must be quite revealing to tap into their conversations! Sindhi men, on the other hand, share a Sindhi recipe for market success over a few pegs of Scotch, with the backdrop of Sindhi gazals. Again an interesting reason to fly, buy, Sindhi.
Artists, singers, musicians and dancers also have a great reason to participate : to showcase their talent to a wider audience from distant shores. An artist, Sindhi artist particularly, is hungry for acknowledgement and acclaim. The international Sindhi sammelan offers a global audience to artists and patronage from such an august assembly surely means a lot to these performers. No wonder any artist worth his salt is only too keen to attend for this very good reason.
Finally, the community of writers, poets, journalists, professors, in short the literary group, the intelligentsia, so to say, feels let down by these sammelans. In the times of vocal culture the written word seems to have taken a back seat. There can be two possible reasons for their exclusion from these shows. One, coming from middle-class, these literary folk perhaps cannot afford to attend, due to the large expense involved. And secondly, for a more important reason, his group happens to be cynical about the purpose of such gatherings and keeps away from them. This was the group that dominated Indian Sindhi Sammelans of 60s and 70s and so they are not used to being ignored. So far not many poets and writers have participated in sammelans and neither is their presence being missed.
All in all, the International Sindhi Sammelans seem like a dream come true for many types of Sindhis – like the youth, the businessmen, the housewife, and the artist. The idea behind the sammelans seems quite simple and uncomplicated : to create a meeting ground for the scattered community with common interests and the sharing of one collective dream; to save Sindhyat from total extinction. That Sindhyat which has travelled a long way. Beginning from the Sindh of the previous century, the light came to India in the mid century, and now in the new millennium the torch has been shinning in most of the major countries of the world. And soon the time will come when the next generation of Sindhis will spread the movement and make it a universal event.