Asha Chand on a mission to revive Singhi culture. Photo: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Dubai: As cultural identities go, Indian and Pakistani expats have a shared past. Highlighting this is an event titled Jhalak Sindhyat Jee to be held in Dubai on November 23. Bringing Indian and Pakistani artistes on the same platform, the show, which aims at celebrating Sindhi music, dance and comedy, is an attempt to revive one commonality between the two communities: the ‘Sindhi-Arabic’ script.
Indian expat Asha Chand, who conceptualised the idea, said: “There are over 30,000 Indian Sindhis alone in the UAE. If we add the Pakistani Sindhis, the number will be much higher. We go back a long way and speak the same language. However, with few in the present generation able to converse in their native tongue, we have to think of innovative ways to revive the language.”
The November 23 cultural show, which will feature India’s mashup sensation Jatin Udasi and Paksitani folk singer Shazia Khushk, among others, hopes to touch the right chord.
“Our shared Sindhi literature is very rich as we can judge from the works of Sindhi poet Shah Latif. We have a priceless treasure but our children don’t have the key to open it. Hence, it is important to teach them to read and write in the Sindhi script,” said Chand.
Sindhi is an Indo-Aryan language that can be traced back to the Sindh region of the subcontinent. Currently, the official language of the Pakistani province of Sindh,, it is also one of the scheduled languages officially recognised by India. But unlike ‘Sindhi-Devanagiri’ which Indians developed after 1947, the original script is in ‘Sindhi-Arabic’.
Chand said like Arabic, Sindhi is also written from right to left, but has more letters (52) though.
Chand, who has been working with a group of volunteers under the umbrella of Sindhi Sangat over the past 18 years, has launched several initiatives to promote the Sindhi language. Besides cultural events, the activities include international Sindhi competitions for children and teenagers, an intensive Sindhi educational project in Sindhi-managed schools, a community effort to create a database of Sindhis worldwide and a dedicated language mobile app and interactive website.
“We realise that our attempt to revive the Sindhi script must start at the kindergarten level if it has to be effective and have been getting the community together in India and the diaspora to make this happen,” added Chand.
What: Jhalak Sindhyat Jee
Where: Shaikh Rashid Auditorium, Indian High School
When: November 23, 7.15pm
Details: Call 055-4531178