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This page was developed to mark the establishment of a multilingual, multi-religious poetry club for the community in Atlanta, and for faculty and students  at Emory University. The club is no longer active, but this page has been retained to furnish introductory information about the traditions of Mushairas and Goshthis in the Indian subcontinent.

Mushaira or Goshthi–A Literary Gathering

Inherently interactive, “Mushaira” or “Goshthi” meetings are literary gatherings at which participants recite, or even sing, poems for an audience that participates by anticipating the rhyme scheme, joining in the refrain, or simply appreciating the performance vocally through customary interjections. Performers—for indeed skillful elocution or recitation is seen as a performance rather than simply a reading—may recite either their own poetry or well known pieces from within the tradition.  Such gatherings celebrate creativity as much as they do literary appreciation or connaisseurship,both of which must be performed with equal skill.

Hindi and Urdu literary gatherings are a part of the rich tradition of the subcontinent, and serve as valuable extra-institutional sites for the practice and enjoyment of language and literature.

Mushaira-Goshthi in a Geopolitical Context

The formulation Mushaira-Goshthi signals the enviable tradition of harmonious Hindu-Muslim co-existence in the Indian subcontinent.  The “Hindustani” tradition is one of mutual intelligibility and appreciation between Hindi and Urdu-language poets and audiences.  Given episodes of communal conflict in the Indian subcontinent, and in light of the gradual erosion of this tradition of mutuality, Mushaira-Goshthi serves as a salutary reminder of syncretism in practice.  The club will actively solicit participation from the Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi community by providing a multicultural and multireligious forum that is sadly all too rare these days in the South Asian community. Moreover, although links of the literary tradition to Middle Eastern cultures are rarely discussed, Mushaira-Goshthi also provides opportunities for revisiting this forgotten historical lineage.

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Last updated: May 2017

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