“I started this journey alone, but people kept joining me and a caravan was made.”
Let’s meet the angel of harmony, Rana Safvi – Winner of the Chisty Harmony Award!
Rana Safvi is an author and historian with a passion for culture and heritage. She is the founder and moderator of the popular #shair platform on Twitter. She is well known for her work in cultural heritage and traditions. Let’s get to know her story today!
Congratulations on winning the Chisty India Harmony Award. How does it feel?
Thank you. The Chisty Harmony Award recognises not only my written but my online work in engaging with youth on social media to spread national harmony. That feels special because not many realise the power of social media or the hard work I’ve been putting in for past 8 years.
What does this award mean to you, to your mission, to your work, your passion?
This award is a great motivation to continue working at joining hearts and minds. My passion is to tell stories of our cultural heritage which many have forgotten and to continue doing so. To continue bridging the gap that has come up between religions in the past few decades.
Tell us something about your work.
I write on cultural heritage and traditions. I try to demystify Urdu and Urdu poetry via my Twitter handles. I have four of them – exclusively dedicated to various subjects. While @shairoftheday is dedicated to the online forum I created, i curate #shair where we provide knowledge and entertainment via Urdu / Hindi poetry on given topics. In @urdualfaz, I give a daily word of the day and then explain its usage via verses. It’s a big help to those who write; as well as helps ghazal lovers understand what they are listening to. In @DilliKiRaniyan I tweet on subjects related to history with special reference to Delhi and North India under the Mughals.
My endeavour is to show the communal harmony that existed prior to 1857 and during the freedom struggle. My articles are aimed at the same too: recognising our forgotten heroes and heroines. My passion to learn and share drives me.
What are the positives that this work has brought to your life? How has it impacted your life? How has it impacted other lives?I read extensively to write and tweet so it’s broadened my mind and opened my heart to so many other aspects of life and culture. I know #shair has impacted many lives as I get many messages regarding how it provides solace during a stressful day.
@DilliKiRaniyan is successful as it provides some hitherto unknown information to people. If I can reach out to just a few, I feel satisfied.
How would you describe yourself in one line?
Mera paigham hai mohabbat, jahan tak pahunche (Translated: My message is love, wherever it reaches).
What/who is your inspiration?
My parents who loved this country and its syncretic culture and brought us up with ideals and not just ambition. We were brought up to know about and respect every religion and participate in every festival with complete enthusiasm.
Can you tell us your story so far?
My story is very simple. I was a teacher for many years, an entrepreneur for a few and now a writer and blogger.
You straddle a lot of things in life. How do you manage to do that so well? What are the things closest to your heart?
I don’t know honestly. All I can say is that if you have the passion you will somehow find the time and space for it.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
I’m at a stage in life where my children are working and living on their own; my husband travels a lot so I use my time to do the things I’ve always wanted to do but never had time and opportunity to do before. Also I have an excellent domestic help for want of a better word, who is now a part of my family and manages the house.
Tell us more about the Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb. How has it impacted society?
Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb is our age-old syncretic culture which allows everyone to flow at their own pace and assimilate without trying to overpower. From childhood we have learnt lessons of unity in diversity. Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb or syncretic culture is the medium which encourages it. It results in the unity, which came from the coming together of all these different ethnic, cultural and religious communities, which resulted in ‘The Wonder that is India.’
It isn’t just the blending of cultures leading to a ‘composite culture’ as erroneously perceived by many, but facilitation to preserve their distinctiveness and the people who belong to different cultures to ensure equality.
What do you seek to transform in the community, society and people?
I’m too small a person to transform a community’s response to society, but yes if even one person comes round to my way of thinking and realises our cultural heritage and unity I feel my work is done.
How would your family describe you?
My daughter says you don’t accept failure and keep going on!
Is there any special incident in your journey you would like to mention?
A few years ago I got a message from Mr. Mahesh Pareek from Jaipur. He’s a very successful businessman and he was very unwell and admitted in hospital for a liver transplant. He said #shair (our forum on Twitter) was his constant companion and helped him survive his ordeal. It still moves me when I think back.
Anything else you would like to bring up here?
I feel special when people across communities, class, ages call me Apa and shower me with love and blessings. I feel very humbled and blessed.
What is your message to our SHEROES?
Don’t worry about results just keep on moving along your chosen life path irrespective of failures.
Main akela hi chala tha janibe-e-manzil magar
Log sath aate gaye aur karavan banta gaya
I started in this journey alone, but
People kept joining me and a caravan was made.
Sonali Karande Brahma
Sonali Karande Brahma is a Brand and Content Strategist, Creative Consultant and Writer with 20 years of experience in creating powerful stories for advertising, brand building and communication. She has worked in mainstream advertising for major MNC and Indian brands. She thrives on ideas and writes on diverse subjects like education, parenthood, business, the art of business writing and social media. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org