What is a Ghazal

Ghazal, which literally means talking to the tender sex, is the most popular form of present day Gujarati poetry. It is both an enjoyable and forceful form of poetry which has its definite form, its definite mood and its definite limitations. It is a short lyric consisting of a minimum of five couplets with the same rhyme and rhythm throughout. It originated from the Arabic “Qasida” meaning a Song of Praise.

In Ghazal, every couplet is a complete unit in itself, rounding up an idea or a picture within the constraints of its two lines and its own Qafia (rhyme) and Radif (rhythm). This is one of the peculiarities of Ghazal, requiring great skill and discipline to say in one line or couplet what in other literatures would have to be said in a complete poem.

In traditional Ghazal, subjects are varied; commonly: love, beauty, flowers, nightingale, wine, life, sorrow, pain etc. However, modern Ghazal uses anything under the sun as its subject matter; the crow has taken the place of the nightingale and the poet using symbolic language now writes about the sun and the sand, the mirage and the desert, darkness and light, to name but a few.

The most common themes are love, Tasawwuf (mysticism), Gham-e-Jana (poet’s personal sorrow) and Gham-e-Doran (the sorrow of the world) which is a reflection of the troubles of the time in which the poet is living.