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Media Advisory

UC Berkeley Urdu festival

19 April 2005

ATTENTION: Arts and culture reporters, editors and photo desks

Contact: Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations
(510) 643-5651 kmaclay@berkeley.edu

The University of California, Berkeley's first Urdu cultural festival, "Meri Aawaaz Suno," or "Hear My Voice." Urdu, a language spoken widely in South Asia, is a blend of various languages such as Farsi, Sanskrit, Arabic, Turkish and, today, even English.

UC Berkeley began teaching Urdu in fall 2003, joining less than a dozen universities in the United States teaching the language separately from Hindi.

The festival program will feature Urdu poetry; Sufi quwalis, or devotional songs; cultural skits; and student presentations on the India-Pakistan relationship.

6 p.m., Saturday, April 23

Evans Hall, Room 10. A campus map is available at: http://www.berkeley.edu/map/.

UC Berkeley's beginning, intermediate and advanced Urdu students in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies will participate.

Professor Mohammad Warsi, an Indian linguist and researcher at UC Berkeley, says most Islamic literature in the region of South Asia, which includes such countries as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka, is written in Urdu.

Warsi also notes that most songs in the popular Bollywood films from India are sung in Urdu. "Many scholars say that Urdu is the sweetest language of all," Warsi says.