Yesterday, 15 August, was India’s Independence Day, a national holiday. Our Talimi Haq School in Howrah celebrated this with a flag-hoisting and a programme put up by the children and teachers. I attended that.
I was glad I went there. I was very happy to hear all the songs sung by the children, and teachers too. All were moving, rousing patriotic songs, full of meaning and messages. A small boy had learnt the Sanskrit song / prayer Vande Mataram (Hail Motherland) which he rendered perfectly. The songs were all sung very tunefully and with feeling. I was really impressed.
I felt a lot of satisfaction seeing my own dreams come true, notwithstanding years of gruelling failure. I used to sing and teach my songs when the school had been started in 1998. I felt that the beautiful India the songs were adoring was present right here in the two rooms of Talimi Haq School. The future of India depended on these children, and the songs were also exhorting them to walk well and wisely for India.
I was asked to say something in conclusion. I said anything I might want to say has already been said in the songs. 15 August is important for us because it is about freedom which came after long struggles and sacrifices by valiant people. And through that struggle something beautiful was envisioned and the seeds of that were sown– an India which is plural, secular, democratic, wise, just and compassionate. This – here, inside this room – is the India they dreamt of. And as we walk well, wisely and virtuously, so shall India.
I complimented the singers. I referred to the azaan – the call to prayer of the muezzin, from the mosque (which had interrupted our programme briefly). It had been really melodious. I mentioned Bilal, Prophet Mohammed’s companion, whom he had asked to sing the call to prayer because of his beautiful voice. Singing is the greatest skill, its what touches and moves people. So your aspiration for singing, and the effort to sing well – makes me very happy.
Finally, I explained something about the Surah Fatiha, the opening chapter of the Holy Koran, and sang it, thrice, each time in a different style, to convey the depth and range of meaning and feeling contained in this.
Hear / download the Surah Al-Fatiha here (WMA).
Hear / download the Fatiha here (MP3).
Thus concluded Talimi Haq School’s celebration of Independence Day 2006!