Tag Archives: India

بھیرو کا استھان، ہندوؤں کی قدیم تاریخی عبادت گاہ جو رہائش گاہ بن گئی

This article was originally posted in The Daily Express

مندر کی عمارت میں رہائشی لوگ بہت ساری طلسماتی اور ماورائی کہانیوں کے اسیر ہیں۔ فوٹو: فائل

قدیم لاہور کے مقام کے بارے میں مؤرخین کی ایک رائے یہ بھی ہے کہ اس وقت کے پرانے لاہور سے کچھ فاصلے پر واقع اچھرے کو قدیم لاہور کہا جا سکتا ہے۔ہندوستان میں کئی قدیم شہروں کے گرد فصیلوں میں موجود دروازوں کے نام نسبتی ہونے کے ساتھ ساتھ دوسرے شہروں کے رخ کی جانب ہونے کے باعث ان شہروں کے ناموں پر بھی دکھائی دیتے ہیں۔ جس طرح پرانے لاہور میں دہلی اور کشمیری دروازوں کے رخ ان شہروں اور مقامات کی جانب ہیں۔ اسی طرح اگر لاہوری دروازے کی سیدھ میں دیکھا جائے تو اچھرہ کا علاقہ دکھائی دیتا ہے۔

یہ قرین قیاس ہے کہ قدیم لاہور کا مقام اچھرہ ہی ہو۔ اچھرہ میں ہمیں دو قدیم مندروں کے حوالہ جات بھی تاریخ کی کتب میں ملتے ہیں۔ ایک مندر ’’چاند رات مندر‘‘ تھا جس کا رقبہ کئی کنال پر محیط تھا۔ لیکن اب اس مندر کے آثار ڈھونڈنے سے مل نہ پائیں گے۔ دوسرا مندر ’’بھیرو کا استھان‘‘ تھا۔ تاریخ کی کچھ کتب میں اسے ’’بھیرو استھان‘‘ بھی کہا گیا ہے۔

’’استھان‘‘ ہندی زبان کا لفظ ہے جس کے معنی مقام‘ جگہ‘ حالت‘ رہائش گاہ‘ مندر‘ مزار کے ہیں۔ ’’تھان‘‘ بھی ہندی زبان کا لفظ ہے جس کے معنی مقام اور جگہ کے ہیں۔ چونکہ یہ مندر بھیرو سے منسوب ہے تو یہ مندر بھیرو کا مندر‘ یا بھیرو کی رہائش گاہ کے معنی میں لیا جاسکتا ہے ۔ اب ایک نگاہ بھیرو پر بھی ڈال لی جائے۔

ہندو اساطیر کی روشنی میں بھیرو نامی ایک دیوی کا تذکرہ ملتا ہے جو ہندوئوں کے لیے اپنے تقدس کے باعث مشہور ہے۔ اس کے بھگت کامیابی کے لئے اس کی پوجا کرتے ہیں۔ سید لطیف نے اپنی کتاب ’’تاریخ لاہور‘‘ میں اس مندر کے حوالے سے دیوی ہی کا ذکر کیا ہے۔

دیوی کے ساتھ ساتھ بھیرو نامی دیوتا بھی دیو مالائی کہانیوں کا ایک مشہور اور خاص کردار ہے۔ ہندوستان میں کئی مقامات پر اسی دیوتا کے نام سے بڑے بڑے مندر اور پوجا گھر دکھائی دیتے ہیں۔ ہندو روایات میں یہ دیوتا اپنے غیض و غضب کے حوالے سے مشہور ہے۔ اس کے بھگت عموماً اس کی پوجا اپنے دشمنوں پر کامیابی حاصل کرنے کی غرض سے کرتے ہیں۔ لاہور کی تاریخ کے حوالے سے کئی کتب میں یہ مندر اسی دیوتا سے منسوب ہے۔ یہ دیوتا شیوا جی اور دیوی ستی کا اوتار ہے۔

دیوی ستی کا باپ دکھشا نامی دیوتا تھا۔ دکھشا نے ایک بار بہت عظیم الشان یوجنا کا اہتمام کیا جس میں تمام دیوتاؤں کو مدعو کیا گیا لیکن شیوا کو نہ بلایا گیا۔ ستی دیوی کو اپنے شوہر کی بے عزتی کا گہرا رنج ہوا اور وہ اسی یوجنا کی آگ میں جل کر مر گئی۔ شیوا نے ستی دیوی کی موت کے باعث اس کے باپ دکھشا کو مار ڈالا اور یوجنا کی آگ سے اس کا جسم اٹھا لیا تاکہ وہ تاندوا کی رسم پوری کر سکے۔ اس کتھا کے آخر میں دھرتی کا پالن کرنے کے لئے وشنو دیوتا نے ستی کے جسم کے ٹکڑے پرتھوی (زمین) پر گرا دیئے جو کہ ہندوستان کے مختلف علاقوں میں گرے۔

جہاں جہاں وہ ٹکڑے گرے وہیں وہیں پر بھگتی کے مندر تعمیر ہوتے گئے۔ شیوا ان مندروں کی حفاظت کے لئے بھیرو کی شکل میں آتا ہے اور بھیرو کوتوال کے نام سے جانا جاتا ہے۔ کوتوال کے علاوہ بھیرو راہو اور یوگیوں کے دیوتا کے نام سے بھی جانا جاتا ہے۔ یوگی اور تانترک بھگت شدھی حاصل کرنے کے لئے خاص منتروں کی پڑھائی کے ساتھ ساتھ کئی طرح کی جسمانی مشقتیں بھی کرتے ہیں۔ یوگا اور تانترک یہ مشقیں نروان حاصل کرنے کے لئے کی جاتی ہیں۔ ان مشقوں کا ذکر بارہا گرو رجنیش المعروف اوشو نے بھی کیا ہے۔

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The Pakistan Diaries by Sudheendra Kulkarni

This Article was originally published on NDTV

 

(Sudheendra Kulkarni is a socio-political activist and columnist.)

Bagh-e-Jinnah is to Lahore what Lodi Garden is to Delhi. Both are iconic parks, laden with history. But the former is bigger and, going by the number of aam aadmi who come there for recreation, less elitist. It was formerly known as Lawrence Gardens, honouring John Lawrence, India’s viceroy from 1864 to1869. Along with his older brother, Henry Lawrence, he played a major role in the affairs of the united Punjab during the British Raj, a saga well chronicled by Rajmohan Gandhi in his new book Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten.

An early morning walk from my hotel, Pearl Continental, has brought me to Bagh-e-Jinnah. It being the middle of June, the sun is already up and bright. As in Delhi, a city with which Lahore has so many similarities (both have majestic forts, built by Moghul rulers at a time when Partition was inconceivable), it’s hot, which explained to me why there were so few people in the garden. I am a little disappointed, because I have come here as much to meet common Pakistanis as to savour the joy of a morning walk in a garden. My purpose is to have as much of Track III dialogue – conversations leading to contacts between ordinary Indians and Pakistanis – as possible during my brief five-day visit to Pakistan, to complement the Track II dialogue for which I had gone to Islamabad a couple of days back.

For the uninitiated, Track II is that conflict-resolution activity in which some of those who once took part in Track I – official government-to-government talks – but are now retired continue to meet, along with journalists, professionals and peace activists, to seek solutions to the vexed issues between our two countries. Cynics see Track II as a post-retirement opportunity for former diplomats, soldiers, and senior government officials to travel and talk. In his new book Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum, American scholar Stephen P. Cohen writes about a journalist who sarcastically quipped at an Indo-Pak Track II meeting in Salzburg ‘where the formers were suddenly and most insistently advocating peace': “We ought to extend the age of retirement, because it seems as if once an official retires he becomes committed to peace with the other side.”

But Track II can also disprove cynics by promoting a constructive and hope-giving exchange of views. This was evident at the Pakistan-India Bilateral Dialogue in Islamabad on June 14, organised by the Regional Peace Institute, a non-governmental body founded by Pakistan’s former foreign minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, and supported by Hans Seidel Foundation, a German NGO. I was one of the 14 Indian members of a delegation that was led by Mani Shankar Aiyar. Mani, an irrepressible votary of India-Pakistan détente, argues, notwithstanding all the flak he receives from the critics of this argument, that the official Track I dialogue between our two governments must go on in an “uninterrupted and uninterruptible” manner, irrespective any provocation or unpleasant development. The delegation also included our former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid. The Pakistani contingent comprised former minsters and retired diplomats and officials of the army and ISI, besides a few prominent journalists.

I have some experience of being associated with the Track I dialogue between India and Pakistan, having travelled with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his historic Bus Yatra to Lahore in 1999 at the invitation of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s then and present prime minister. I had also accompanied Vajpayee on his visit to Islamabad for the 2004 SAARC summit, on the sidelines of which he had an important meeting with Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s then president. That meeting yielded the path-breaking joint statement in which Pakistan gave a commitment not to “permit any territory under its control to be used to support terrorism in any manner”. Continue reading

‘Vande Maataram’ from Lahore

Banday Matram from Lahore

Jahangir’s Tomb, Lahore

The tomb of Emperor Jahangir who ruled India 1605-1027, is another jewel in the crown of Mughal architecture. The tomb is situated in Lahore, in Noor Jahan’s old pleasure garden known as Dilkusha Garden. The mausoleum is located at Shahdara on the banks of the Ravi, three miles northwest of the city. in the centre of which stands the magnificent sepulcher of Jahangir, considered by some to be the “finest ornament of Lahore,” and the “most magnificent edifice in the subcontinent after the Taj and the Qutub.”
The combination of red Sikri stone and white marble, an arrangement echoing Humayun’s tomb in Delhi, and a rare treat for Lahore not least for its intricate inlay, is impressive in its finesse and sophistication. Where the external expression is restrained in its dignified simplicity, internally decorative surfaces present you the best of tile mosaic and fresco that made Lahore famous in the whole of the Mughal Empire.
Following are some photos of the tomb “tweeted” by our twitter handle @lahorenama

 

Note: Info credit “ualberta” website, Photos credit “Kasim Osmani”.

Foodistan (Lahore, Pakistan)

Irfan Rydhan

Recently, I came back from a month long trip to Lahore – the culinary capital of Pakistan.

Lahore, has a wide variety of cuisine, from fancy upscale Italian restaurants to the simple Pakistani village food and everything in between.

A few tips for those of you who may be traveling to Pakistan soon:

1. Get Your Shots – Before you Travel (Currently Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio and Malaria are the main diseases in Pakistan)

2. Don’t Drink The Water – unless it’s Bottled and Sealed (Nestle PureLife is the most reliable brand)

3. Don’t Eat Street Food – unless it is fried up, steaming hot, or cooked well done!  Avoid eating anything cold or something made with water.

If you follow those 3 simple rules, you should be fine and not get sick!

Below is a short slideshow of my trip through “Foodistan” aka Lahore this past February.  I hope you enjoy the pictures, as much as I enjoyed eating all the delicious food:)!

Fresh Butter on hand-made Aloo Paratha (Bread stuffed with Potato) in the Pind (Village)
Fresh Butter on hand-made Aloo Paratha (Bread stuffed with Potato) in the Pind (Village) Continue reading

Lahore circa 1933, II

By Raza Rumi:
I am grateful to Naeem Ahsan Jamil for sending more old pictures of Lahore from his private collection.

Photo 1:

Kim's Gun, The Mall Lahore

Photo 2

An aerial view of Lahore Airport with the GOC House.

The struggle for Pakistan and Bhagat Singh:

By Haroon Khalid

 

The independence achieved in 1947 ushered a new era for India and Pakistan, but with it, also marked the end of a legacy. For India and Pakistan, Congress and Muslim League respectively became the vanguard of independence from the British Empire. Whereas there is no denying the fact that both of them played a pivotal role in achieving freedom, nonetheless there were also other parties and movements, who had the laid groundwork for these two to build on. Without their impact and achievements, perhaps these two parties would not have been able to achieve the success that they eventually did. Post independence, the credit that should have been given to the former parties was taken away from them.

In India, the Indian National Congress was generally more receptive to political activists from other parties and movements, who also were able to shake the foundations of the British Empire. In Pakistan however, all of the former movements became a relic of the impure-Hindu-mixed past, which needed sifting. We ended up with fine grains starting with Muhammad Bin Qasim, coming to Babur and Aurangzeb, and ending with Muhammad Ali Jinnah. All the other characters were just not required anymore. So whereas in India, despite their differences, the Congress government was acknowledging the contributions of Bhagat Singh, M.N. Roy and other nationalist leaders, we were purging our historical narratives of these kafirs.

Recently I met an army official, whom I would not name for my own safety, who like me also follows the history Lahore. Talking about various obscure and neglected monuments, we reached to the Shadman Chowk (Bhagat Singh chowk), where Bhagat Singh was hanged. I asked him why we couldn’t own Bhagat Singh as a son of Lahore, to which he answered that since he was a Sikh. My dear friend, he was an atheist!

However it is not because of him being a Sikh or an atheist that we fail to own him. It is because nowhere in his struggle, he talks about Hindus and Muslims separately. Neither does he only talk about the plight of just one community. He talked about an entire nation, which composed of people from all religious hues and not. So it would have hardly made a difference had he been Muhammad Aslam or Bhagat Sadiq Ram. There would have been no room from him in the historiography of Pakistan’s Independence struggle. Students of history would have continued thinking that the role of Muhammad Bin Qasim in freeing the Muslims of British India from the British Empire (secretly working for the Hindu baniya) is greater than the role Muhammad Aslam’s hanging did. To further establish the point, let us leave Bhagat Singh aside for a moment and talk about practicing Muslims who also like him, gave up their lives for the independence of their nation but were later disowned or never acknowledged by an independent Pakistan.

The Gaddar Movement is an example of one such struggle which has been thrown off into the sea to keep the boat of Pakistani Nationalism afloat. Having originated from San Francisco and other British colonies, this movement had its roots in the Punjab because of the predominant role that the Punjabis played in it. Bhagat Singh’s father and uncles were also members of this movement, and it is argued that it became the source of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha. Contrary to the popular belief, there were many non-Sikhs involved. This was a massive movement which spread from USA into Canada, Mexico, Burma, Malaya and Japan. Indians living in these far away regions got together for the cause of the freedom of this land. It also found support in the Communist Russia and Afghanistan. In 1915, the Gaddaris established a Free Hindustan government-in-exile in Kabul. Its President was Raja Mohinder Pratab, whereas its Prime Minister was a Muslim, and a Professor of Arabic in Japan, Maulvi Barkatullah. He was also one of the founders of the Gaddar Party. It was his revolutionary literature that became the backbone of this movement. He died in San Fransico. Among other Muslims, who held important positions in the government-in-exile were Maulvi Ubaidullah (Interior Minister) and Maulvi Muhammad Bashi (Youth Minister). The callous treatment meted out to these towering Muslim personalities of their time leads one to question: is it then just because of the religious beliefs of Bhagat Singh that we fail to acknowledge him or is there something else?

There was another Muslim, who played an important role in this movement. This was Syed Rahmat Ali Shah, the first Martyr of this struggle. He was captured near Ferozpur, and then executed in the Montgomery (Sahiwal) Jail. His body was interred in the graveyard in front of the Jail, as nobody came to claim it in the required period. His grandsons today live a life of abject poverty in a small village on the Sundar-Raiwind road called Sultan-keh. They know that their grandfather was an important person, because their father had been called to India once, where he was given an award and a picture on behalf of his father. They say that the name of their grandfather is also written at the entrance to their ancestral village of Wazir Keh in India.

A strategy that the Gadaris had adopted was of secretly passing on revolutionary literature to the Indians in the British Army. In a lot of instances this proved to be a successful tactic, as quite a few regiments revolted against the authorities. One such example was the 5th Native Light Infantry Singapore Case, which included 2 regiments of Infantry, both of them dominated by Muslims. The Gaddar Movement was supporting all sorts of Independence struggle, which were targeted against the British authorities, which is why they also lend their hand to the Khalifat Movement. Mujataba Hussain, aka Mool Chand of the Gaddar Movement played an important role in this Singapore case, where a lot of the Muslim personnel were sympathetic to the cause of the Khilafat. Similarly there was another person from Gujrat called Mian Qasim Mansoor, a rich trader, who financed the scheme. This particular case caused a lot of problems to the authorities. Finally when it was crushed, all the officers had to face Court Martial and many of them were executed on the 2nd of March 1915.

The Gaddar Movement unlike the movement of the All India Muslim League was not a predominant Muslim struggle, but a cause for all the oppressed people of India, who wanted to get rid of the British yoke. The focus of this article has been on a few prominent Muslims in the movement to shed a light on the fact that the Muslim League was not the first political party to have attracted the Muslims. Much before this party was to become a prominent player in the Indian political sphere; secular movements like the Gaddar were already involving Muslims. However when the Muslim League came to power, it downplayed the role of all the other parties, which could have possibly undermined its thesis. However the struggle it claimed to have won single handedly would not have been possible without the sacrifices of Barkatullah, Syed Rahmat Ali, Mujataba Hussain, Mian Qasim Mansoor and Bhagat Singh.

Sikh Yatrees at Wagha Station, Lahore

LAHORE: Over 2,900 Sikh Yatrees from India and thousands of others from all over the world including America, Canada , UK, Europe, and from parts of Sindh have reached Nankana Sahib to participate in the celebrations which will continue till November 11.

Photo by : Daily Express.

 

Lohari Gate of Lahore, A Rare Image.

A rare image of Lahori Gate, one of the 13 gates of Lahore. It was taken by an unknown photographer in 1900.

 

Posted by: Shiraz Hassan

 

 

 

On shaky grounds

By Haroon Khalid

Next to the planetarium, close to the old Anar Kali, a tall, cone-shaped Jain Temple greeted the visitor once. This was situated in the centre of the road, with two roads passing around it. Next to it are wooden balconies, with intricate designs on them; part of the original complex. This was one of the three Jain temples in Lahore, according to Jainworld.com. The other ones were inside the Bhatti gate and on Ferozepur road, near Model Town. The temple stood in the middle of this bifurcation of roads, which earned this junction the name of Jain Mandar Chowk. Years of religious disuse had resulted in severe depredation of the structure. It various compartments, originally used by visiting pilgrims, students and priests, are now taken up by refugees of the partition of 1947. Their interconnected rooms have been permanently closed by mortar and bricks, as the demand of privacy increased among the new occupants. Larger rooms were divided into two, or sometimes even more, and the surplus ones rented out. All of these small rooms entertain much more people, then meant to. A cycle tire repairperson had made a makeshift shop on the pavement, next to the temple, many years ago, and still sits here.

Then came the dreadful morning of 6th December 1992, and thousands of people converged towards the historical Babri Mosque, at Ayodhya, India. Within hours the Hindu fanatics, who wanted to correct the historical wrong that the first Mughal Emperor Babar committed, razed the structure. Their argument; Babar had destroyed a Hindu temple, meant to commemorate the spot, where the mythical Hindu King Ram was born, to build this mosque.

This unleashed a chain of events that had repercussions thousands of kilometers away in Pakistan. In the following days, rightist leaders in Pakistan aroused the sentiments of the people and they, in thousands, attacked various Hindu temples in the city, and all over the country. They attacked with axes, hammers, rods, guns, and even bare-hands. One of the mobs also attacked this landmark temple, and brought it to ground. Little that they knew, this was a Jain temple and not a Hindu one; a different religion altogether. The Jains are a pacifist religious group, who believe to the extent that the life of an insect or an ant is also worth preserving; but then what is the rationale behind a charged mob’s thinking. The cone-shaped structure that once served as the link between a non-Pakistani past now lies desecrated, inside a walled enclosure that was built around it. The tire repairperson still sits outside. The bifurcation was rechristened Babri chowk, in the honor of Babri mosque. However, no wagon, bus or rickshaw driver would know where the Babri chowk is; the bifurcation is still known as the Jain Mandar chowk, even without the Jain Mandar, a tribute to the desecrated temple, by the people of Lahore.

While there was a mob busy bringing down this structure, there was another charged one that took the direction of the Sitla Mandir, which was in between the Shah Alami and Lohari Gates. This was believed to be ancient temple, attended by Hindus and non-Hindus alike before the partition of British India. It was believed that a dip at the pool, which was next to the temple, could cure all skin diseases. Tara Chand, a 78 years old Hindu, living in Lahore tells me that for Diwali, a large number of people used to come to the temple, including Muslim women with their children.

The cone shaped structure is still standing and is visible from afar. It is a triple storey building, with each floor now carved up, ingeniously, to cater to the increasing population demand. One the first floor, there is a Madrassa Noor-ul-Quran. Original black and white tiles of the pre-partition times are still present. However the floor is uneven, because of severe damage wrought to it during the attack. Regardless of the predicament, the madrassa still functions, and people continue to live. There is a Mewati family living on the top floor of the temple. An old woman from the family told me that she bought that particular area for Rs. 60,000 from the head Qari at the temple. She was living here when the temple was attacked. Ironically, she told us, it was the same Qari, who ran the madrassa at that time, who lead the attack.

There were 2 other temples here too, all of which were attacked. This temple was lucky in particular as it survived the attack. There is a mosque next to this temple, which was built after the destruction of a temple here. “The mob had brought a crane with them, which they used to bring down the structure,” said the woman. She tells us about a passionate devotee who had climbed to the top of the structure damaging the temple with his axe, when the entire structure fell. “He became an instant Shaheed,” she added. The Qari continued teaching at the madrassa inside the Sitla temple, but quit a few years ago. A small plate which reads “Ya Allah” decorates the niche at the top of the structure. Its historical pool has been filled and a Jinnah park for the community has been made.

About 10 kilometers from here, inside the famous Thokar Niaz Baig, there is an ancient Hindu temple. This was the Bhadrakali Mandar, dedicated to an incarnation of the Hindu deity, Durga Mata. This was a huge complex, with various smadhs (stupas), a baoli (a huge well, with stairs that led to the base), an ancient Banyan tree, a pool and two temples. According to Tahrikh-e-Lahore, written by Kanhiya Lal, this temple used to host the largest Hindu festival in and around the city of Lahore. There is no historical account of one of the temple buildings, which served as the main one, but another huge structure with a dome was summoned by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, when he became the King of Punjab, according to Lal. This structure was never used as a temple. Now a government primary school functions in it. The smadhs have been filled, the pool covered, the Baoli lost, and the Banyan tree cut. The original temple, now houses several Mewati families that migrated to Pakistan in 1947. They have wrought various changes to the structure to cater to their demand.

A couple of years ago, when I visited the temple for my thesis the people living inside the temple were destroying the structure. When I asked them, their reason was that the structure had become weak and was a threat to the people living inside it.

An old man, who requested to stay anonymous, from Niaz Baig, told me that following 1992 a mob attacked the temple, led by a proscribed organization, based here. However, before much damage could be wrought, the elderly of the locality dissuaded them. They argued that this is no longer a temple, but serves a primary school. The school children would be the only one affected by this action. This way the temple was saved, however, severe damage was wrought to the other building, which is now it is being razed to make way for a securer structure.

A visit to Bhagat Singh’s village

by Haroon Khalid

Amongst the numerous Punjabi patriots that have been borne over centuries, arguably, Sardar Bhagat Singh’s personality stands as the tallest in stature, fame, and sacrifice. However, a strange event occurred after the death of this son of Punjab. The land that he called his mother got divided into two parts. This partition not only divided land but also mentalities, families and heroes. A strong sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’ were forged, to invoke patriotism, justifying the partition, or the betrayal, fueling nationalism. What is Indian is anti-Pakistani and vice-versa.

In this division of history, where does Bhagat Singh stand? He was an Indian when he died, but can he become a Pakistani after Pakistan, based on his ancestral village. Logic has it that he should become an Indian like Allama Iqbal became a Pakistani. We know that Bhagat Singh was an atheist. Can Pakistanis even dare to own atheist heroes? Now that is a path I am frightened to tread on. Continue reading

Unexplored heritage

by Haroon Khalid

Many historians believe that original city of Lahore is not the walled city of today but in fact the locality of Ichhra a few kilometres from the area. Various evidences are shown to prove this thesis, one of which is that the oldest Hindu temples exist in the locality.

Right now we would not delve upon the already established evidences but would try to look at new traces that can shed some light on the history of the city. In popular myths and legends it is believed that the city of Lahore originates in antiquity. A popular myth is that this city was founded by one of the twin sons of Sri Ram and Sita, Lahu whereas the other son established the twin city of Kasur. Continue reading

Shades Of The Old Punjab

Picture on the left – Joga Singh with a maulvi outside the mosque in Sarwarpur that his brother Sajjan helped reconstruct
This is a great, heart-warming piece from Outlook India which says that “Across rural Punjab, Sikhs and Hindus are helping restore mosques destroyed during Partition”

Brothers In Arms

  • Around 200 mosques across Punjab have been repaired, rebuilt or built from scratch with the help of Sikhs and Hindus in the last 10 years
  • Many destroyed during Partition riots are now being restored by village communities
  • In some cases, the Jamaat-e-Islami is involved, but most are unorganised village-level efforts
  • It’s a reassertion, after decades, of Punjab’s unique religious and cultural synthesis

The Ghuman family of Sarwarpur, near Ludhiana, cannot understand what the fuss is about. Ever since Sajjan Singh Ghuman, an NRI Sikh living in England, rebuilt a mosque in his native village that was damaged during Partition, the shrine, as well as his family back home, have attracted the curiosity of  outsiders. “We never imagined we would be on a Punjabi TV channel just because my elder brother rebuilt this small mosque for the poor Muslim families of our village. For him, it was just a gesture towards restoring the collective heritage of our village,” says Sajjan’s brother, Joga Singh, who manages the family’s lands in Sarwarpur. Sure. But what Joga and his family, or even  the TV channel, do not know is that the sentiment that inspired his brother’s act is being manifested in scores of villages across Punjab, with Sikhs and Hindus joining hands to either rebuild old and damaged mosques or build new ones. Odd? Perhaps. But Punjab, as admirers of its unique religious synthesis say, has always defied stereotypes to do its own thing. Continue reading

Scared, lonely and on the wrong side

I am posting this interesting story written by Sarabjit Pandher and published in the The Hindu newspaper. Hope the readers will enjoy this and comment Raza Rumi

Fearing punishment from his stern father, a 13-year-old Lahore boy boarded the first train he spotted at the Lahore station. He had no idea that it was the Samjhauta Express, nor an inkling that his little adventure would land him in prison on the Indian side of the border. That was on January 11, and over a month later, the youngster is desperate to go home. A class VII student in a government school, he sorely misses his mother and little sister and the group of friends he used to hang out with. Even his father’s scolding is a sweet memory compared to the situation he now finds himself in. On Friday, the bewildered boy, along with 15 others, was produced before Principal Magistrate for Juvenile Justice Ajaib Singh in the Amritsar district court. Sharing his handcuffs was a 15-year-old from Bangladesh. Continue reading

Lahore: the motif of art and culture

Hazoori Bagh: A place where people would gather to listen to the best of literature.

By Sher Ali Khan

During the time of the British rule in India, Lahore was known as the “Paris of India”. The reasons are quite clear. To begin with, romance in the east can be defined as the individualistic struggle of the heart. Romantics provide inspiration to a society in their daily lives. The romance of ones city is judged by the general ambience created within the realm of that society. A romantic culture is sustained through literature and arts. Writers, poets, and artists would frequent teahouses where they would orate and document the experiences of the city.

To start out, the Mughals instilled a romantic quality into Lahore by developing monuments such as the elegant Badshahi Masjid and the Lahore Fort and then the British gave to the city one of the most beautiful green spaces known as Lawrence Gardens. Furthermore, the Mughals created a proud and close people culture that would inspire literature and art for many years.

One of the stories from the Mughal era is regarding the wealthy emperor Shah Jahan who constructed a palace in the imposing confines of the Lahore Fort to honour his wife Mumtaz Mahal. As the mother of his sixteen children, Mumtaz Mahal was the love of his life. The general assumption is that she passed without ever seeing the Shish Mahal. Continue reading

Ajoka’s new play on “Dara Shikoh”

Posted by Raza Rumi

It is absolutely a great development. Ajoka has decided to stage a play on a personality that has been neglected by India and Pakistan. His views and role in history challenges the myths of Indian and Pakistani nationalism and confronts religious militancy rampant in the two countries. Had Dara – the visionary, sage and believer in humanism – lived, we may have avoided blood, carnage and violence that defines South Asia of today. Those interested to explore the hidden history, removed from textbook propaganda must watch this play. The venue and timings can be found at the end of this post. Now the formal introduction to the play:

Dara – A play on the life and times of Mughal prince Dara Shikoh

Ajoka’s new play “Dara” is about the less-known but extremely dramatic and moving story of Dara Shikoh, eldest son of Emperor Shahjahan, who was imprisoned and executed by his younger brother Aurangzeb. Dara was not only a crown prince but also a poet, a painter and a Sufi. He wanted to build on the vision of Akbar the Great and bring the ruling Muslim elite closer to the local religions. His search for the Truth and shared teachings of all major religions is reflected in his scholarly works such as Sakeena-tul-Aulia, Safina-tul-Aulia and Majma-ul-Bahrain. The play also explores the existential conflict between Dara the crown prince, and Dara the Sufi and the poet. Continue reading

Explore the walled city of Lahore and its historic gates

Lahore is the capital of Punjab, the most populated province of Pakistan, and is known as one of the ancient cities in South Asia with its rich historical and cultural heritage.
The early history of the city is cloaked in obscurity and it is pretty difficult to establish exact date of its foundation. It was a town of not much importance in the first and second century of Christian era and was ruled by Rajput princes. In the eighth and ninth century, it became the capital of a powerful Brahman family, who, in the tenth century, were invaded by Sabuktagin and his son Mahmud Ghaznivide. For the next eight centuries, Lahore was ruled by different Muslim dynasties and served as the capital of Ghaznivides, Ghorians, and Mughals from time to time. At the onset of the 19th century, the Sikhs ascended to the throne of Punjab and Lahore was made the seat of government. Shortly after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839, the British defeated the Sikhs and took over their domains. It served as the capital of the undivided province of Punjab until 1947 under the British rule and after independence, it became the capital of the province of Punjab in Pakistan. Continue reading

From Delhi to Lahore: the other side of the border

Here’s a post that readers might enjoy…

I landed in Lahore and my friends were waiting outside the airport for me. I was scared for sure because I was alone in Pakistan. I could not believe I was in Pakistan. The country I heard so much of. I could not say that it was like Delhi because it was too small as compared to Delhi but at the same time, it made me feel I was in India. Whenever I saw billboards I used to feel no I am in Pakistan. I thought every girl would be in burqa or cover their head but to my shock nothing was like that. At 1 am, I started my journey for Islamabad but I felt Lahore never sleeps. I never saw Delhi ISBT to have so many people there at 1 am. Biggest shock came when I saw a bus hostess in luxury bus at 1:30 am. I never imagined that an Islamic country would allow that.

Bhagat Singh’s alma mater: decaying but not forgotten

By Afnan Khan

LAHORE: Bradlaugh Hall, where one of South Asia’s most influential revolutionaries – Bhagat Singh – once studied is, today, the focus of a campaign to not only rescue it from disrepair but to rename it and other landmarks of Lahore after him. Named after the social reformist and radical member of British parliament Charles Bradlaugh, the college was built on October 30, 1900, to provide secondary higher education to students from all walks of life. In the decades following Partition, the institute has had its share of turmoil, according to residents of Rattigan Road who briefly recounted its history to Daily Times. Shortly after 1947 Bradlaugh Hall was used to store foodstuffs; it then found life as a steel mill up until the 1980s, when it reopened as a technical education centre, the Milli Technical Education Institute. Continue reading

Lahore Coffee House

Raza Rumi (published in The Friday Times)

Before his death in July 2009, KK Aziz had accomplished one mission
that he had set for himself, i.e. to write about the Lahore Coffee
House, the glorious nursery of ideas. Luckily, despite his failing
health, Aziz finished a draft that was meant to be a shining part of
his autobiographical kaleidoscope. “The Coffee House of Lahore: A
Memoir, 1942-57” was published in 2008 and Aziz, in the opening
chapters, tells us about the genesis of his passion to document this
memorable phase of our contemporary history. Continue reading