Munshi Premchand and Idgah!

Munshi Premchand‘Ramzan ke poore tees roze ke baad id aayi hai, …kheto me ajeeb raunaq hai,aasman par ajeeb lalima hai’ Idgah

Munshi Premchand was arguably the greatest story writer in the Hindi/Hindustani language. He started writing in the Urdu script under the pen name Nawab Rai but later shifted to the Devnagari script to be accessible to a wider audience. Later he self-translated some of his earlier works so that they were widely accessible.

One of his most well known and widely read stories (read by three generations through school texts) is Idgah. It is the story of Hamid, a four year old poor orphan boy, and his day on Id. The story is a typical Premchand style, something which was a halmark of his writing. He used to describe human conditions and emotions in such a real and heart touching way that readers would feel that they are a part of the event being described. Idgah is no different.

It is creditable on the part of Premchand the way he has so closely described the nuances in the story. He has described things from the eyes of a four year old Muslim child and particularly as he himself would not have lived that phase in his own life. Reading Idgah today brings fond memories of our own childhood and the importance that was attached to the Idi. His narration of the children taking out the Idi from their pockets and counting it again and again and comparing with each other of how much Idi the other has received takes the things as close as they could be! The children used to wait for this day so that they could get the Idi and plan it out even months ahead what they would buy with it.

Also his description of the fasting by the children where he mentions that some may have kept only one fast and that too only to the noon shows his extremely close proximity to what these things meant. When we were small kids and would really want to fast in Ramzan while watching the elders doing that we would be allowed in our own kid fasts. The elders would playfully say to keep what they would call ‘ek gaal ka roza‘ meaning you eat only from one side of the mouth. Or then they would say to keep half roza the same what Premchand describes.

Premchand also shows his close knowledge of the happenings of a typical household on the Id morning. Whether it be in people running for getting the sugar for the sewain or the children waiting impatiently for it to be ready. Similarly Ameena’s thoughts about when she would prepare the sewain if she goes with Hamid to the Idgah.

But ultimately the story is about the bonding between Hamid and Ameena (the orphaned kid and his grandmother). Ameena’s concern for Hamid when he is going to the Idgah without his father and Hamid’s struggle with his own little self to overcome the attraction of the sweets, the games and the toys while all the other kids are not only enjoying those but even showing it off to Hamid in their kid rivalry depicts this. The four year Hamid successfully overcomes all of these – games, sweets and toys – and saves his three paise to stop at a hardware shop and buy a pair of tongs.

Finally when he brings it home and gives the tongs to his grandmother she scolds him in a typical way as he could not find any better thing to buy from his Idi. When he describes that he bought it for her as that would save her fingers from getting burnt she breaks down. The way Premchand describes this, touches the elements in one’s soul.

Reading this story gives a glimpse to an era gone by. It is tough to find people today across religious boundaries who would know about these details so closely. The story is filled with love and positive human emotions.

Id Mubarak to you all!

Published by

Mirza Faisal

Mirza Faisal is an IT professional and a management student.

20 thoughts on “Munshi Premchand and Idgah!”

  1. Id mubarak to everybody. I am missing the festive atmosphere I saw and participated in during at least some of my years growing up in Aurangabad and Delhi.

    Munshi Premchand was not just one of the greatest story writers in Hindi/Urdu and the pioneer of the short story in the language, but one of the greatest story-writers anywhere in the world. He also grew up in different times, when communities lived side by side and communal feelings had not yet become widespread. His stories are universal – everybody can identify with them across space and time. Thanks, Faisal, for reminding me of this short story, which is one of his finest. I am tempted to read some of his classics again, particularly “Kafan”.

    Once again, greetings to everybody.

  2. Eid Mubarak to all of you.

    Thanks Faisal for putting up a message on Eid in the context of Munshi Premchand’s short story.
    Munshi Premchand’s stories use to be touching and sensitive.

    This festival preaches us brotherhood and togetherness at all times.

  3. I stumbled upon this site by accident, but what a pleasant surprise and a charming trip down memory lane. Thanks, Faisal

    I had forgotten what a phenomenal observ of the human condition Pramchand was. Such a shame that, our “movers and shakers” would not be caught dead on page 3 talking about the genius,when there are scores of mediocre angrezi writers to chose from..

    Id Mubarak!

  4. Id Mubarak to all dear muslim friends. I was infact remembering and searcing for the hindi pdf of the story Idgah by munshi premchand when i chanced across this.. did nt know it was so popular 🙂


  6. Idgaah is a lovely story,a wonderful piece of art.This is the total study of mankind through children.As is said Child is the father of Man,its true.The small talk of the children in the Id-Mela depict the very nature of mankind.
    A plain,simple truth told so beautifully and simply Prem Chand is simply great!

  7. What a plesant surprise indeed!

    Idgah was the first story of my hindi textbook in std 9. I have read the story numerous times and remember it to this day. I have no words to express how warm and happy I felt recollecting the story of Hamid and his grandmother! god bless us all!

  8. dear friends
    im so glad to see ur love to premchand
    i would just say that i have read all his stories and some even over 20 times ,believe ,such is the magic of his writing .for new people some of his most touching stories are …
    bade bhai saab
    gulli danda
    namak ka daroga
    panch parmeshwer
    and many more i will put when i remember them
    the most important thing is he was a great human being too
    i simply love him

  9. Mirza Faisal’s write up on Munshi Prem Chand’s story Idgah was excellent. We had this story in school, and to this day it remains one of my favourites.

    With sheer genius, Prem Chand portrays the emotions of Hamid, his friends, and his grandmother. The last scene of the story is so touching that one finds hard to control one’s tears.

    Good work Faisal

  10. Wow, the story sounds really good. Given Munshi Premchand’s touch, it must be a really moving one in the original.

    Maybe, if translations are actively pursued, it may be a good thing. It may not have the charm of the original, but it will give everybody a flavor of what the literature is like.

  11. Idgah is a very sensationable story by Premchand expressing more than that child’s plight but the condition prevailing at that time.

  12. This story is being read by the third generation since its publication, and kids and adults find it as moving as their parents and grandparents did.

  13. Dear Brother Faisal,
    Selamou Elykoum
    Happen to see the story ‘Idgah’ many years back on some channels…Its just too touche and emotional and honestly depicts the human sentiments at its peak….or should I say when its immatured! Awesome Story! Thanks for connecting us again to that old, bonding era where ‘relations’ really mattered!!!

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