Finding rhyme and verse with Qaafiya Dictionary first online Urdu poetry tool

By Radhika Sharma
    New Delhi, Oct 8 (PTI) Aspiring English poets have multiple online resources telling them how to write a sonnet, haiku or limerick but those aspiring to pen Urdu verse have just the Qaafiya Dictionary to help them write a poem that qualifies to be a ‘ghazal’ by finding the right rhyming words.
    The dictionary, which is available on the official Rekhta website and went online in August, is the world’s first online Urdu rhyming dictionary, claims the Rekhta Foundation, dedicated to the promotion of the language.
    Given that poetry is about the nuts and bolts of writing as much as it about moonlight, romance and other matters of the heart, the Rekhta Foundation’s Qaafiya (rhyming) Dictionary comes with the promise that no poet need be troubled any longer by the rhyming scheme of Urdu poetry.
    It helps an aspiring poet or language enthusiast search from a library of over 10,000 rhyming words from 40,000 plus ‘ghazals’ available in three scripts -- Urdu, Devanagri and Roman.
    “This will be helpful to young and aspiring poets, especially those who are unaware of the technicalities of Urdu poetry. With such a large volume of rhyming words available on this platform, a poetry lover who is unfamiliar with the script will never feel disconnect with the language,” Rahat Indori, who is famous for his contemporary and satirical Urdu poetry, told PTI.
    Finding a ‘qaafiya’ is the most daunting task a poet has to confront and Indori believes the dictionary is an important and much needed step taken towards this direction for aspiring poets to bank upon.
    The ‘qaafiya’ or the rhyming scheme is the most indispensable part of Urdu poetry - be it a ‘ghazal’ (couplets which share a rhyme and a refrain) or nazm (a verse).
    Each couplet in a ‘ghazal’ is a complete poem in itself. Every couplet ends in a strictly defined rhythmic pattern. A ghazal must have a minimum of three couplets; there is however no maximum limit.
    Vishal Bhardwaj, filmmaker, music composer and frequent dabbler in verse, said he often wondered when Urdu would have its own ‘rhyming library’.
    “I am so happy to learn about Rekhta's Qaafiya Dictionary as it is the basis of the ‘ghazal’ form of poetry. When I work in the West, I see their established poets using such rhyming library websites and I often wondered when we would have our own ‘qaafiya’ library.
    "It's finally here due to the noble efforts of Rekhta and I am sure it will be helpful for young poets as well as a handy tool for the experienced,” Bhardwaj told PTI.
    Mohammad Umar Siddiqui, new to the poetry game, said he finds the Qaafiya Dictionary an invaluable tool.
    “In the initial days when I was trying to write ‘ghazals’, it was a little difficult to find ‘qaafiyas’ after a certain point… Overall for a beginner and aspiring Urdu poet like myself, it is not less than a blessing to have a ‘qaafiya’ dictionary at hand,” said Siddiqui, a software engineer based in Hyderabad.
    Pleased at the success of the dictionary, Saalim Salim, an editorial team member at Rekhta and a published poet himself, said the rhythm is the first thing that catches the "ear" when someone reads Urdu poetry.
    He said the website of Rekhta was tested with several poets and improvised following their feedback. There was no official launch of the dictionary but the reach has been organic, he said.
    “The metre and ‘qaafiya’ attract most lovers of Urdu poetry. Any aspiring Urdu poet who wants to be a good one is on a hunt for good bank of rhyming words.
    “We have a collection of those that can be used to create poetry. It would also help people who are not acquainted with the language,” Salim told PTI.
    A common problem that arises while creating a ‘qaafiya’ is the metre, he explained and cited a couplet of the legendary Ahmad Faraz -- "Kathin hai raahguzar thodi door saath chalo // Bahut kadaa hai safar thodi door saath chalo."
    “If we say, ‘safar’, they will find most of the words like 'guzar, ‘sahar’, ‘mehvar’ or say someone wants ‘safar’ to rhyme with ‘mehvar’ (axis). But this option doesn’t fit the rules of the language,” he said.
    According to basic grammar rules, Salim said the word ‘safar’ has a 1-2 metre (sa-far) and ‘mehvar’ would be the incorrect word choice as the metre of ‘mehvar’ translates to 2-2 (meh-var).
    “We have defined the metres of every ‘qaafiya’. A layperson can also understand the Qaafiya Dictionary easily. They can place the ‘qaafiya’ and formulate a ‘misra’ (line) with its help,” he says.
    When someone goes to the Qaafiya Dictionary to put down the first couplet, it asks if the user has written the opening line, or the ‘matla’ (full couplet).
    “If they click on 'yes', then we ask for both the rhyming words ('qaafiya'). Then we check, if these words are in the metre, and accordingly we suggest if those rhyming words can fit into the scheme of things and come up with options,” he said. PTI RDS BK MIN RDS

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)