EVERY year Glasgow Afghan United celebrates Burns Night with a difference.
This year was no exception – and our annual Burns & Rumi Supper was a night to remember.
The event takes the form of a traditional Burns Supper with a twist as we also honour the writing and legacy of Maulana Jala ad-Din, who is commonly known to legions of readers the world over as Rumi.
As far as we know, our event is the only one of its kind – and that uniqueness attracts a wonderful multi-cultural audience and brings people together regardless of their nationality, faith or political persuasion to enjoy music and poetry.
We were honoured to welcome our audience on Monday January 24 and to hear from distinguished speakers including Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow’s Lord Provost Philip Braat, His Excellency Masoud Anderabi, the former Afghan Minister of the Interior and Anas Sarwar MSP. leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
National treasure Karen Dunbar treated us to Tam O’Shanter and we heard music from both Scottish and Afghan traditions thanks to the wonderful Ostaad Gholam Hussain and Adrian Robertson.
His Excellency Sayed Jawab Tayeb, the Afghan ambassador to Russia, shared his thoughts on Rumi in Afghanistan and beyond while Professor Alison Phipps of Glasgow University shared her ruminations on Burns when she delivered The Immortal Memory.
We heard also from Bob Doris MSP, Chief Inspector Janie Thomson-Goldie of Police Scotland and Dr Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, and from Huw Owen, whose work with the Disasters Emergency Committee is helping to bring aid to many people in Afghanistan who are suffering from hunger and poverty at this time.
Patrick Grady MP gave the Toast to the Lassies, while his parliamentary colleague Alison Thewliss MP returned the Reply from the Lassies, and the MP trio was completed by Anne McLaughlin, who hosted our fundraising auction. The monies raised from that will all be used to distribute large food parcels to people in-need who are living in parts of Afghanistan that other aid agencies are unable to reach.
It’s a genuine pleasure for us to host this event every year and we think it’s really important. It’s a way for Scottish and Afghan cultures to sit side-by-side, with equal respect, and for people to share in both of these wonderful traditions. Doing this – sharing with each other, laughing with each other, listening to each other – is the way to build strong, healthy communities. That’s what GAU is all about.
To all of those who attended – GAU members, parliamentarians, business people, councillors, academics, musicians, people young and old, auld acquaintances and new anes – we thank each and every one of you.
See you all again next year.