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Pari Bazaar Festival brings to fore cultural heritage of Bhopal, provides platform for art, literature and Urdu poetry

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Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

BHOPAL: For days, the cultural and literary scene was lit up in the city as the Pari Bazaar Heritage Festival was held, successfully, once again.

Bhopal, a city that has a unique history of women empowerment, along with the tag of a cultural abode due to its poets and authors, saw the 'Begums of Bhopal' group that comprises women from all communities and sections organising the event, and bringing the cultural traditions in focus.

From poets reciting their couplets and youth giving a display of fine arts, from daastaangoi to dance, chaar bait to batolebaazi, a series of events drew attention of people from across the region. The idea of Pari Bazaar was originally conceived by the last woman ruler of former princely state of Bhopal, Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum, as a place where women would be buyers and sellers.

A century later, this Pari Bazaar in a modern avatar has been organised by the group, Begums of Bhopal. It was the third season. "We felt that there was need to bring to fore the beautiful elements of our culture and the communal harmony. Hence, it was decided that there should be a recreation of the Pari Bazaar, a place where there would be cultural activity as well as diverse events", said Rakhshan Shamim Zahid, while speaking to

She said that either it was Sufi Qawwali or Batolebaazi, Mushaira or Chair Bait, each event saw huge interest. "We thought that just an exhibition with lot of stalls would not be enough, hence, different aspects and shades from our cultural heritage were included in this heritage festival", Rakhshan Shamim Zahid added.

She said that during Covid pandemic also, the group Begums of Bhopal had been active and scores of women ran kitchen services. Encouraged by the success of the earlier two heritage fests, this year Pari Bazaar was even more successful. "Our aim is women's empowerment and we are very much satisfied with the response", she said.

On all the days during the event, there was lot of activity though only women [or couples] were allowed. There were also dance and music programmes. Apart from them, ramp walk and kathak were performed. For audience and vistors, it was informative as well as entertaining. 

Eminent personalities of Bhopal including the author Razia Hamid, who has penned a number of important books in Urdu, were felicitated. Hamid and Santosh Choubey got the Shaan E Bhopal Award. Artist Faisal Mateen and theatre personality Sarfaraz also got honoured. Ministers, Mayor and prominent personalities took active part in the programmes. 

Bhopal is known for its rich history in terms of women empowerment. Nawab Qudsia Begam, Nawab Sikandar Jahan Begam, Nawab Shahjehan Begam and Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum ruled the erstwhile princely state for nearly a century, a feat that is unrivalled, and women of the region are known to have taken lead in diverse fields. 

The speakers and organisers emphasised this aspect. The unique 'Char Bait' art form was also presented. Patiya Goi and Batolebaazi are also art forms unique to Bhopal. The 'batolebaaz' is a person who spins a yarn, often makes up incredible stories and presents them in such an artistic manner, with a gift of gab, that everyone gets hooked despite the fact that it appears unreal. The four day programme was held at Kamla Park in the heart of the city.

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Journalist for more than 20 years. Had started his career with National Mail in the nineties. Worked as Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, as an Assistant Editor with DB Post, later Contributing Editor with The Huffington Post, writes for First Post, The Wire, Newsd & several other major publications.