If anyone wants to feel the heart of Dhaka University (DU) s/he must visit its Teacher-Student Centre, popularly known as the TSC. Students and teachers from all the departments gather here not only to have an adda but also to nourish their intellectual and artistic instinct.
Sumayea Zara and some of her friends from the Sociology department of DU are not merely chatting; rather their rhythmic voice tells us that they are doing something special. Actually Sumayea is reciting a poem and her friends are listening to her. When asked about it, Sumayea says, “Here we are practicing for our weekly recitation class. We all are students of a poetry recitation group called Dhaka Shawrokalpon.”
TSC is home to around 28 cultural organisations that offer different courses on poetry recitation and presentation. Some of these groups are over a decade old. Many DU students have chosen recitation as their favourite pastime. Besides them, interested participants from across Dhaka gather at the TSC at weekends to participate in these courses.
Kazi Shahriar, who is also Sumayea's friend, says, “I participate in these classes because I love poetry and I love to recite poetry accurately. It helps me to feel the message from the heart and I also believe reciting poetry is one of the best forms of art.”
The art of poetry recitation is quite popular in Bengali culture, and as the epicentre of our art and culture, the DU has been patronising these poetry enthusiasts by offering them classrooms and related facilities and also with some advisory support. Faizullah Sayeed's Dhaka Shawrokalpon, Srote Abritti Shangshad, Charubak and many others are using the DU campus to run their activities.
Sayeed has shared with the Star his decade long experience of running his organisation. He says, “Since 2001, we have been offering these facilities to learn the art of recitation and presentation. To make it more effective for the young participants, we also offer courses on correct Bengali pronunciation, anchoring and news presentation. We invite distinguished artists and professionals to take classes with our students. By learning the art of recitation students here also get the opportunity to flourish this skill through their future career. ”
This career opportunity has attracted many students to learn poetry recitation. Shamsad Khan, a student of Marketing, is participating one of the courses offered by Srote Recitation School. Shamsad says, “News presenting has been my passion for a long time. Actually I have come here to fulfil my goal. But recitation is such a lovely art; I am now totally in love with poetry recitation.”
These organisations are not only professional schools of recitation, they also engage youngsters into knowing Bangladesh's history and culture. Srote's executive member Mahfuz Masum says, “We always encourage our students to learn the history and culture of our country. We regularly arrange outreach programs in historical places like Liberation War Museum where students learn our history and take part in recitation programmes on poems of liberation war.” They are also giving a platform to the contemporary poets. Sayeed of Dhaka Shawrokalpon says, “We always encourage our students to recite young poets.”
Shimul Mustafa, an iconic artist of poetry recitation, regards recitation as a way to self development. He says, “It doesn't bring too much fame and money. But it brings the mental peace and intellectual development necessary to be a true human being.”
It is very true that the art of recitation is different from other performing arts. The practice of recitation is becoming increasingly popular day by day due to the professional demands of its students in different media. But as soon as they get a job, they leave the world of recitation.
Poetry recitation is an important part of our culture. In this era of cultural aggression, we are constantly losing our cultural and linguistic heritage. But the practice of poetry recitation is keeping our language and culture alive by teaching the young generation the correct use of our language.
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