The poetry festival was held for the first time since the pandemic, and there was an undertone about the fragility of life. The singer Hariharan captivated the audience with a slow meditation on life taken from a poem by Muzaffar Warsi.
To make it or to break it, it takes no time,
Life is but a house of dew on the petals of a flower.
Among the crowd that spilled out of the large tent where Hariharan performed was Snigdha Kar, an environmentalist, and her 7-year-old daughter, Shreyashri. As the singer dwelled on one line of poetry, repeating it over and over, Ms. Kar closed her eyes, letting the notes sink in.
Music and poetry provide a moment of grounding in a fast-moving world of work, travel and family obligations, she said. While Ms. Kar said she had always been moved by lyrics and poetry — “I used to pay attention to the words more,” she said — she has started classical lessons online during the pandemic to understand the music, too.
“I also bought a guitar,” she said, adding with a sheepish smile: “You know, classical music could become boring sometimes.”
The festival’s main attraction was the poetry sessions, from open-mic opportunities where budding poets nervously recited their works, trying to stick to meter and rhyme, to master classes that encouraged them to keep composing even if they were struggling with the basics of Urdu script or form.
“Poetry is not just arranging words,” the poet Suhail Azad, who took early retirement as a police officer to focus full time on poetry, told attendants of one master class. “If it reaches the heart, it is poetry.”
At the festival’s headline poetry recital, the mushaira, half a dozen senior poets took their seats on the stage, enchanting the audience in distinct styles, often to standing ovations.