Kavi Sammelan (Hindi: कवि सम्मलेन) is a formal or informal gathering of poets in Hindi-speaking belts of northern India. The participants recite their poetry to each other and have a general discussion of literary issues. This may take place in private homes or before an audience. In the era before economic liberalization(1991), kavi sammelans were a popular part of everyday life. They were often broadcast on the state-owned Doordarshan TV network. Post-liberalization, with increasing westernization and proliferation of electronic media, the frequency of such gatherings has reduced.
Although, kavi-sammelan of small gatherings have been in existence since time immemorial, the first grand kavi sammelan was organized in the year 1920, which included many poets and large audiences. After that, kavi sammelan has become an inseparable part of Indian culture.
In India, the period from Indian independence in 1947 to the early 1980s was a golden phase for kavi sammelan. From the mid-1980s up to the late 1990s, the Indian population, and especially its youth, was suffering from issues such as unemployment. This took its toll on kavi sammelan, as did newer modes of entertainment such as television and the internet, as well as the quantity of Indian cinema releases. Kavi sammelans had started losing their standing in Indian culture, both in terms of quantity and quality.
Indian and International Organizers
Hindi kavi sammelans are organized across the globe by Hindi lovers. The US, Dubai, Muscat, Singapore, UK are the places that organize highest number of kavi sammelans after India. In most of the kavi sammelans organized in these countries, the poets are generally invited from India.
Earlier, Kavi-Sammelans were organized by social and cultural groups. But these days, the kavi-sammelans are very mush popular among Universities, Colleges and Even corporate. Most of the Kavi-Sammelans organized in colleges and corporates do consist of a small team of 3-4 poets, and this is the most prevalent tradition now-a-days.
The format of kavi sammelan has not seen many changes since its inception. The traditional format has a Sanchalak (anchor) and a few poets. The number of total poets vary from three to twenties and even thirty. In the traditional format, all the poets sit on a mattress on the stage. The mattress is decorated by flowers, and traditional cylindrical pillows are kept for each poet. There is one standing mike, and one sitting mike. The sitting mike is kept in front of the Sanchalak. He introduces the whole team to the audiences, and then calls the poets one by one. These poets come to the standing mike and recite their poems to the audiences. The order of recitation is generally from most junior to the mist senior poet. But most of the traditional kavi sammelan has 7-12 poets.
Breaking the traditions, today even solo kavi sammelan are being organized (although the term 'kavi sammelan' indicates plural number of participants, of late solo performances have also been called kavi sammelan). The positioning of Kavi-Sammelans have come out of the traditional set-up, and now poetry shows] are labelled not less than musical concerts. Although this is a matter of discussion among the experts that whether the change of format of Kavi-Sammelan is upgradation or downgradation, even the most senior poets have supported the changing format.
Famous poets of Kavi Sammelan
There have been thousands of poets who performed in kavi sammelan at one place or other. But there are some names, who would always be remembered for their contribution to kavi sammelan. . There have been many great poets who never performed on stage. The most prominent names of kavi sammelan stage performers right from the post independence (and a few last years on British rule)days are Suryakant Tripathi Nirala, Pt. Vanshidhar Shukla, Mahadevi Verma, Padma Vibhushan Gopaldas Neeraj, Santosh Anand, Balkavi Bairagi, Haribansh Rai Bachchan, Bhavani Prasad Mishra, Bharat Bhushan, Sharad Joshi, Ramanath Awasthi, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Hullad Moradabadi, Kaka Hathrasi, Vimlesh Rajasthani, Alhad Bikaneri, Omprakash Aditya, Urmilesh Shankhdhar, Shail Chaturvedi, Gemini Haryanvi, Surendra Sharma, Hariom Panwar, Gajendra solanki,Aashkaran Atal, Ashok Chakradhar, Manik Verma, Pradeep Chobey, Uday Pratap Singh, Kunwar Bechain, Arun Gemini, Chirag Jain, Mahendra Ajanabi, Vedprakash Ved, Sunil Jogi, Shambhu Shkhar, Padma Shri Surendra Dubey, Vishnu Saxena,Charan jeet charan, Vineet Chauhan,Suresh Albela,Kumar Vishwas,Kesar dev marwadi,Rahul Rajasthani and Sarita Sharma are well known name these days.
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