Languages are getting digitised, much like the humans that speak them.
And so, when shayari, the ‘single malt’ of poetry makes an appearance on a platform that allows just 140 characters, patrons are expected to be at a loss for words – no pun intended.
But around this character-crunch, a poetry subculture has blossomed – and its existence needs to be celebrated – more so on a day that is exclusively marked as World Poetry Day (21 March).
Hashtag That Shayari
The hashtag shair was started on Twitter by Rana Safvi, an Urdu lover. Another, rekhta was initiated by Rekhta.org. On both these hashtags, one is welcomed by soulful couplets.
These shers can compete with the robustness of the digital world. Most automatically fit well under 140 words, making them easily tweetable.
Sanjiv Saraf, the founder of Rekhta.org, brought together techies and Urdu scholars to create a website where one can find the meaning of Urdu words in Roman or Hindi script. The Word of the Day makes you aware of words like Dozakh, or hell.
Mirza Ghalib may not have lived to see these times, but that hasn’t dented his online popularity in any way. Even Allama Iqbal has some 22,000 followers on Twitter.
Faiz Ahmad Faiz, too, has an account on Twitter, with 66,000 followers. Incidentally, Amitabh Bachchan follows Rekhta on Twitter.
For The Enthusiasts
The hashtag #OurShair allows tweeters to submit their own shayari. Meanwhile, the account shairoftheday, initiated by Rana Safvi, shares curated couplets on a pre-set theme.
Kunal Maithani, 29, a poetry enthusiast and amateur poet, shared with us why he follows the Twitter trend.
Interestingly, 60 percent of Rekhta’s followers are under 35. The organisation’s self-initiated surveys have also found that the bastions of Urdu have moved from the dreamy towns of UP to the busy cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad.
A clarion call for an online mehfil, sometime?