Tag Archives: Pakistan

THE CAPITALS OF PAKISTAN: LAHORE

This article was originally published here

Lahore Social

Introduction of the Capital – Lahore:

Lahore is the second largest city of Pakistan, after Karachi. It is the administrative capital of the largest province by demographics, Punjab. At present, the population of Lahore is estimated to be 7.5 million people with a current growth rate of 2%.  It is a rising mega city, comprising of an old but urban residential settings and new developing residential and commercial areas. Lahore’s economic base is broad and diversified. The major industries include the automobile manufacturing, home appliances, steel, telecommunications, IT, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, computers, engineering, heavy industries, and construction material. The city is the country’s largest software producing center and hosts a growing computer-assembly industry.

Situated along the River Ravi, the city is located 25 kilometers from Wagah Border that runs along the Indian city of Amritsar.  Spreading over an area of 1,014 km², and growing, it lies at the central east of Pakistan between 31°15 to 31°45 North and 74°01 to 74°39′ East at the average attitude of 702 feet above the sea level.  The land is mostly the flat alluvial plains suitable for cultivation with a subtropical low-latitude semi-arid hot climate. Continue reading

Lahori Samosa

Pervaiz Alvi

(TOP) Sheikh Lateef, the owner of the shop, is seen frying Samosas while the other picture is of a worker preparing the triangular delight. — Photos by Khurram Amin

(TOP) Sheikh Lateef, the owner of the shop, is seen frying Samosas while the other picture is of a worker preparing the triangular delight.

RAWALPINDI: If you ask any resident of Rawalpindi about the best Samosa outlet in the town, the Lahori Samosa Shop at College Road will come as the reply.
A few yards away from the historic Liaquat Bagh, there is a road on the rear of the Government Gordon College.
The road houses China Market and famous food outlets, including samosa shops, Kashmiri tea vendors, Tikka houses and stalls selling fried sparrows and many others.
A visit to the area shows workers busy in preparing and serving different items and consumers waiting to get their orders.
Fast food is very popular in the city but people still like the samosas, the eastern delight, with evening tea with their families and guests.
The Lahori samosa is very simple but delicious. It is made with potatoes and served with sweet chutney and chickpeas with fewer spices which made the flavour more exotic. In the winter, people enjoy the samosa with Kashmiri tea while in summer the almond flavoured milk is available with it.
Maintaining its quality for the last 48 years, Lahori Samosa Shop remains the favorite place for most of the people in the twin cities.
Shops opened in adjoining areas with this name have failed to match its quality as the old chef never let out his secret recipe to others.
A large number of people, including college students, shopkeepers and women visitors to Raja Bazaar and China Market, are seen either sitting outside the shop or in their cars on the roadside enjoying the delicious plates. Continue reading

Bo-Kata – A page from “Lahore: A Sentimental Journey” of Pran Nevile

Basant

I cannot recall anything that thrilled me more than kite flying in my boyhood days. Whenever I observed my kite soaring towards the clouds, I experienced a sense of power and mastery over the elements. Perhaps, in a way, I identified myself with the kite itself flying so free and so high above me, far from the madding crowd, enveloping me in a spirit of freedom and adventure, I felt that kites also signified a hope, a desire for escape, fancy dreams entrusted to a breath of wind and connected to a string and the hand that clasped it.
Those were the days when kite fighting instead of kite flying was in vogue. Pecha larana, or to entrap another kite by pouncing upon it from above or below or sideways, depending on its position, was the most exciting part of the sport. The skill lay in crossing dore with an opponent until the vanquished kite, cut loose, floated helplessly over the rooftops. The victor and the teammate would announce the defeat of the rival with loud cries of Bo-Kata, and throw a challenge for a return pecha. The defeated rival would accept the challenge and stir up a fresh kite into the sky. The rules of the game did not permit entrapping the kite till it was high above in the sky. It required great manoeuvring to entangle or disentangle one’s kite from the clutches of the opponent. Sometimes, we heard a shrill commotion on the rooftops and saw boys running with bamboo poles to catch a drifting kite. A falling kite in a street or bazar also created a stir and passer-by of all ages would run to catch the booty as a prized possession. Some boys who could not afford to buy kites often amused themselves by watching pechas and catching the falling kites.

lighted-basant-night
Every mohalla in Lahore had its own acknowledged khilaris (expert kite-flyers). As soon as they launched their kites, it was a signal for the small-timers to pull back their kites and leave the field open for them. They dared not venture to disturbed the khilaris, each of whom had established his sphere of influence. I was also a small khilari who after accepting a challenge from a rival would enter the battle only at an agreed time.
There was a style of kite flying called kaincha that entailed cutting the twine of the rival kite by dragging and pulling it with a sudden jerk. This was a practice followed by some boys who had very little twine and were looked upon with contempt by the khilaris who would sometimes even give them a beating for attacking their kites in this fashion.

Basant
We always looked forward to Basant, the king of all festivals in Lahore. About two weeks before its arrival, the kite shops were specially decorated and a large variety of kites of different colours, shapes and sizes were displayed along with small and large pin nabs and artistically wound dore in numerous attractive colour combinations, large stocks of kites were also brought from Lucknow for the occasion. The kite makers and dore producers worked round the clock. The khilaris used to pile up their stocks of kites and dore well in advance to avoid the last minute rush. Second in importance to basant was the Lodhi festival held on Makar Sankranti, which usually falls on 13th January. On that day we had kite flying on a large scale, a full-dress rehearsal for Basant, which falls usually in the first week of February. Basant signaled the end of the winter season in Lahore and the onset of spring.

Basant2
The celebrations on Basant day would commerce well before daybreak, when specially constructed box kites carrying lighted candles like lanterns were set afloat in the sky. These moving lights in the sky made an enchanting sight and signified the inauguration of the great kite-flying festival of Lahore, unmatched anywhere else in the world. Rooftops and terraces were crowded with men, women and children of all ages. It was also a custom to wear yellow turbans on Basant day. The women, young and old, also sported yellow chunnis which lent a new charm to the festival atmosphere. By daybreak the sky would be ablaze with thousands of kites of different colours, shapes, sizes and designs. The whole atmosphere of the city also reverberated with the triumphant shouts of Bo-Kata and the blowing of the trumpets to proclaim victories in kite-fighting battles. There were famous khilaris in said Mitha, Wachhowali, Machhi hata, Sutar Mandi, Rang Mahal and other areas of Lahore. They challenged one another for paichas. The Basant festival was also held outside near Haqikat Rai’s Samadh, where crowds from neighbouring villages joined the city crowds and enjoyed kite flying. There were also renowned Khilaris who played for heavy staked in Minto Park. The winners were admired for their dexterity and skills in gauging the winds as well as for the perfection in the tactics of manoeuvring, surging, shielding and stretching during the kite flying.

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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Flood Situation in Punjab: Police rescue 6,630 flood-tossed people

 

A view of houses surrounded by flood water in Rana Town area of Lahore.— Photo by APP

A view of houses surrounded by flood water in Rana Town area of Lahore.— Photo by APP

LAHORE: As many as 7,922 policemen across Punjab have so far evacuated 6,630 flood-hit people, including 29 families of Rahim Yar Khan district, 25 of Mandi Bahauddin and 20 of Chiniot.

According to a handout issued on Sunday, boats, trolleys and various vehicles are being used for relief activities by police teams who also rescued 5,203 cattle along with appurtenance of the affected people.

Similarly, police also provided 3,493 mud bags to the local administration.

In Gujranwala region, up to 3,102 persons and 1,904 cattle have so far been evacuated by police.

Mandi Bahauddin District Police Officer Syed Junaid Arshad himself rescued a three-day-old baby girl by driving a boat in Qadirabad area of the Chenab river.

As many as 2,530 traffic policemen have also been deputed to ensure vehicular movement in the affected areas.

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My Eternal City

Lahore, Lahore aye.
By Pran Nevile

My Eternal City

No city in the subcontinent can boast of a more stirring or more turbulent history, or a stronger vitality, than Lahore—a city ruled by Hindu kings, Mughal emperors, Sikh monarchs, British sovereigns. Scholars, historians, and travelers passing through Lahore were enchanted by its majesty and grandeur. In the heyday of its glory as the capital of the Mughals, the city rose from semi-obscurity to eminence. It became the city of historical monuments and gardens. Lahore finds mention in John Milton’s classic, Paradise Lost. Thomas Moore in his celebrated Lalla Rookh describes the glittering life and pageantry of the palaces, domes, and gilded minarets of Lahore. Rudyard Kipling, the Nobel laureate who was raised in Lahore, immortalized the city in his writings.

The British rulers took active steps to safeguard and preserve old monuments and buildings of national interest and historical value. I remember that many new residential areas were developed in different parts of the city: Krishan Nagar, Sant Nagar, Ram Nagar, Ram Gullies, Krishna Gullies, Gowalmandi, Gandhi Square, Nisbet Road, Mozang and Quila Gujjar Singh. The most novel experiment was the construction of a modern township, Model Town, about six miles from the center, with spacious bungalow-type houses owned by the upper middle class of all communities. Continue reading

WRIT PETITION FILED IN LAHORE HIGH COURT TO RESTORE JAIN MANDIR IN LAHORE AND OTHER MINORITY WORSHIPING PLACES THROUGHOUT PAKISTAN

On   20th May 2014 a Writ Petn   SYYED MOHUMMED JAWAID IQBAL JAFREE OF SLARPORE  versus STATE through CHIEF SECRETARY , GOVT OF PUNJAB AND OTHERS (INCLUDING PUBLIC AT LARGE) was filed at Lahore High Court   .. Writ Petition 13953 of 2014.
It was Preliminarily heard by MR JUSTICE Mansoor Ali Shah.
HE ORDERED THAT NOTICES ISSUE TO RESPONDENTS , AND THE cHIEF secretary (HIMSELF NOT A JOINT SECRETARY OR SECTIONN OFFICER) HEAR JAFREE PERSONALLY ON 26TH MAY Monday AND PASS A SPEAKING ORDER WITHIN ONE MONTH.. THE WRIT WOULD BE HEARD FURTHER ON 26TH June.

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The famed Purani Anarkali

 

A classic painting of Purani Anarkali, Lahore

A classic painting of
Purani Anarkali, 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”.

The Waters of Lahore by Kamal Azfar (A Review)

Review by Iqbal Geoffrey

Dear Kamal Azfar

19252_the-waters-of-lahore-01Reading your book: THE WATERS OF LAHORE has imparted great pleasure and furnished enlightening information; therefore, this note is a symbol and a gift  from my  genuine appreciation while hoping  that you might  arrange its Urdu version  published as a subsidized edition. You may consider adding a separate chapter succinctly describing bluntly in your honest-to-goodness, straightforward style, e.g., what does the government need to do  as well as the  law-abiding denizens in Pakistan (systemically dehumanized by alien or fiendlike Rule of Low and Law off Rulers, though with no signs of Rule of Law in sight) over last five thousand years (and their Sing Along With Mitch cutlery, chumcha cha cha!) in  Pakistan. Now that the Land of the Pure (and helluva halva) has become not only a failed state, but also plundered, oppressed, almost bankrupted, and a Terrorist® state. Gone with the Raiwind are the good old days and inbetweenties glimpsing  any semblance/dynamics of wisdom or micro-iota regarding  Values or Vision. The Hyperbole and intimate Manage a Trois are very-very ‘In’.

Rather remarkably ­– in between the lines — your book reads like art criticism. Moreover, no civilization has ever flourished progressively without first excelling in arts. Within the unfortunate State of Pakistan the ubiquitous coterie of nouveau riche/ deep-pocket riffraff and semi-illiterate politicians (rudderless + ruthlessly on-the-take) compounded by  rabid bureaucrats (low-ranking Machiavellis) are instead coyly dismantling what is left of Pakistan. One in PTI/ one in ML(N)/ one Independent Syndrome. Jinnah must be turning in his grave. Right now we encounter déjà vu of 1999 when forex reserves were miserably down to $400 millions, that too S.O.S-borrowed at exorbitantly high commercial rates. Please propose what needs to be done. I will, in  deeds, state of art illustrate it !!!

As your former GCL  classmate and causa honoris fan, I ought to mention two item thoughts. ZAB (a poet-of-politics deserving criticism in the Surah 26 : 226 Sense) actually was not all that ‘not-corrupt’. When Bhutto visited my Studio (or Clinic for the Sake of AesthE T H I C S) in Central  Park West (at the Mayflower) or later in Beekman Place, NYC 21 , I humbly pontificated  that bigotry must not be encouraged by anyone whatsoever, i.e.,  no one may designate/label or even subliminally  belittle any other person’s faith, nor tempt invidious exodus or determine their faith or stigmatize any school of thought. By Officially (draconically) branding the Ahmadis as ‘non-Muslims®’. He  acted disgracefully and unleashed a  palpable Pandora box mix for our vintage/ perverse (perhaps even worse) halala-smitten/happy Mullah, Moolah and Mega- Mediocrity in order to exploit and plunder. Now chickens are coming home for roasting up Shias. God mentions in the Holy Koran that on the day of Judgment He will judge everyone in accordance with his faith. So Culprits cannot escape exemplary punishment.

Moreover, Bhutto used to boast before his Sitting Ducks that he manifested two personas (euphoria of split personality, I presume); one private (seductive actresses + Invigorated Rooh-e Afzaa + surreptitious verbal  ‘marriage’ with Ravishing Husna Sheikh — where is the Bengal Beauty?? = la dolce vita a la mode at  State-with-dwindling-resources expense account), and The Other his (illusionary) public (= commercial)  personage (Roti, Kappra, Aur Makkan + phony “Liend Reforms” phantom/hype).

During 1969 (when he invited Dr. Zafar Aziz Khan and me), I asked him point-blank why await  becoming the PM to implement his promised and worthy  ‘Land’-Reforms, why not initiate and functionalize/fructify that very day since charity and all good deeds (like justice) begin with home, however, I would simultaneously join him, donate all my existing resources, I am a bit short of being a Kuwaiti Currency Billionaire, I must admit, ‘how short’ is my Tashkent $ecret) : he responded that he  had  a family to support and I retorted on the spot to his sudden surprise:  ‘But; everyone is suffering from that dis-ease’. It turned him pinkier! He become fidgety. Dr. ZAK graciously walked out on him along with me from the debilitated Falettis which was ruining itself after The Oberoi Family had to leave.

The Tashkent Secret” (another Bhutto Bluff!)  simply was that we triumphantly lost that war too.  Mein ne dekha:    also as a citizen of the global village, I felt very sorry for the Motherland, Raftarr Tez Haey – –  mugger Suffer ahissta-ahissta. The cutting-edge bottom-line is  that actually, soon after that Bhutto (albeit innocent  Yatra),  Janab A.K. Brohi,  To err is human, confided  to me  that  Bhutto  would  not win  a  single  seat  even  from  native Sindh..

Since the Dacca  (double entendre , it also means dacoiting in my Penglish) Marrowing of l971, over 300 billion dollars have been money-laundered  illicitly out to offshore havens as sacrosanct nest-eggs. Although I strongly oppose Death Penalty in present day Just Ice Pakistan, as an exception to the rule I humbly favour brutal public hangings of economic Fitna-Fasaad  caterers per the Commandment of God. Caliph Hazrat Omer, RA  condemned hypocrisy as the worst of  sins and calibrated that one who appeases in a wrong is far worse than the wrong-monger.

Our present day  role model  Prime Munster, Haji Sir Nawaz SharrrrReef’s (HonGCMG 1997 violating Art. 254) two sons have  already proudly become British citizens with Right of Abode which re-minds me the brilliant obiter dicta  that MohtrimA Meena Kumari (born in  Mitha Tiwana, District KhushAAB = Good Waters off of  the Chenab River ) lisped in the playback surroundsound of Lata Mangheshkar: Innhi loggounn ne lay liyya dupatta mera…  

Also there exists  a lucid, tell-tale  Urdu  lyric (ghazzal), ahead of its time (as is all art) narrating  requiem for  ZAB during his own lifetime, by the greatest poet of the XX century (albeit from Montgomery), Munir Niazi, RA.  I will appreciate your corrective views about  the aforesaid aspects of some burning issues which are of burgeoning incendiary concern to the common, law-abiding citizenry of Pakistan who find themselves Iraq and a hard placebo.

Iqbal Hussain: The agony and the ecstasy

DSC_1540 copy WITHOUT RIGHTSIqbal Hussain’s new work reveals a darkly poignant preoccupation with death, an artistic crisis born of the violence in our midst. But this work may yet survive the changing cultural topography of Pakistan, says Raza Rumi

Being stuck in an awful traffic jam on Lahore’s Mall Road is an everlasting nightmare. This was the road which once housed the tempestuous and famously poly-amorous painter Amrita Shergil, as well as the grand old man of Indian writing in English, the legendary Khushwant Sigh, among other lost symbols of our bygone past. But mine was not a fruitless journey: I was heading to the Zahoor ul Akhlaq Gallery at the National College of Arts (NCA), where Iqbal Hussain’s new work was being displayed. I would not hav e gone to see this exhibition had I not heard about the significance of the show from the proficient curator of the gallery Qudsia Raheem. I liked to meet Iqbal Hussain in the throes of the walled city where he has reinvented a space for himself among his own people — entertainers, artists, traders, sex workers and a multitude of local and global visitors. Iqbal Hussain has been successful through his personal endeavors to put Lahore’s old city and its infamous red light district on the world map. He has achieved this primarily through his stupendous paintings and sublime rooftop views of Mughal monuments from the Cooco’s Den Café he owns and manages.

DSC_1510 copy WITHOUT RIGHTSIqbal Hussain’s work over the decades has brought to life the shades and aspects of sex workers from Heera Mandi around whom Hussain grew up. Most importantly, he is proud of his heritage and origins and, unlike the hypocritical and self-denying society in which he lives, he has publicly claimed ownership of this background. His work has obsessively captured the many narratives about the women who are central to Heera Mandi. In doing this, Hussain has humanized the portraits of the “dancing girl”, the aging prostitute and the honorable livelihood earner. Contrary to the religious decrees on such women, or the excessive romanticization of dancing girls in our culture, Hussain’s subjects are nothing but human. They are real and vulnerable while blessed with the ability to sing, dance and celebrate life and sex. In our socially conservative culture, made even more so since the advent of Victorian values in what was then British India, such characters have been the recipients of much derision. Hussain, through his momentous collection of paintings, has countered every stereotype and cliché that comes to mind about such women. Continue reading

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 – a short poem

By Gohar Sadaf Qureshi

Image

Missing Lahore and the years there.
years had been from home,
And now, before the door,
I dared not open, lest a face
I never saw before

Stare vacant into mine
And ask my business there.
My business, — just a life I left,
Was such still dwelling there?

Photo by Saad Alvie

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.

Basant: Lahore’s lost spring

Raza Rumi

Cross posted from my website

Lahore, a centre for the arts and learning in the early 20th century, has been the custodian of a plural, vibrant culture for decades. Its walled city, unlike several other old settlements, has continued to survive despite the expansion of the city. So have its peculiar features: its dialects, cuisine, community linkages and, of course, rich festivals such as Basant. As the capital of Punjab, Lahore used to celebrate Basant — the arrival of spring — in a colourful manner.

Since the medieval times, Basant was acknowledged and celebrated by the Chishti saints. Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi turned it into an act of devotion, and Amir Khusrau’s songs captured the multi-layered evolution of this festival.

Punjabi poets such as Shah Hussain gave a Sufi flavour to it. Hussain, in one of his kaafis, says: “The Beloved holds the string in his hand, and I am His kite.” The festival offered a meaning to all and sundry: from playful kids to lovers and Sufis; from profit-seekers who developed livelihoods around the festival to the community as a whole.

Basant was celebrated by all communities prior to Partition: Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs treated it as a Lahori festival with an identity linked to the city. In this milieu, Allama Iqbal was known to be an avid kite flier. But the post-1947 rise of clerics meant that inclusive cultural practices were to be treated with suspicion. For many decades, the Pakistani mullahs have ranted against Basant as an “unIslamic” festival and one that endangered public morality.

Unfazed by these fatwas, Lahoris continued with the festival. It even received state patronage on various occasions. A citizen of Lahore, Mian Yousaf Salahuddin (the grandson of Iqbal), turned his old Lahore haveli into a cultural hub and, over time, Basant celebrations became an international attraction. By the 1990s, proactive civil servants turned Basant into a great regional festival. Lahore’s then deputy commissioner, Kamran Lashari, provided full backing to the holding of this event in the 1990s. That was perhaps the time when Basant also became most controversial due to its scale and the increased hazards of unregulated kite-flying in which metallic or chemical-coated string was used.

The use of this string instead of the traditional dor caused many deaths each year and the local government was unable to enforce regulations on its usage. The metallic wire would get entangled in electricity cables in the old city, leading to electrocution. The courts intervened and asked the Punjab government to ban the festival in 2007.

Ironically, the banning of Basant did not take place in the name of religion but through a public interest litigation. However, the ideological opponents of Basant have been happy with the outcome and have created an uproar each time someone raised the question of reviving Basant after putting safety measures in place. But Lahore is a poorer place now. It is devoid of this public celebration, especially for thousands of impoverished workers in the old city and neighbouring towns where Basant was celebrated with great fervour.

Read the full post here

The images are Mahboob Ali’s works (an eminent artist from Lahore also known for his woodcuts)

Lahore in 1933 – an aerial view

These original aerial photographs of old Lahore or the Inner City were shot in 1933. Zahra Mahmoodah has generously contributed them from a recently acquired album for Lahore Nama.

We invite the readers to identify the landmarks and buildings that are captured in the above photograph. Lahore remains the most beautiful city and in the 1930s it was surely a splendour!

‘Saddened Mona Lisa’ and other paintings – experimental art from Lahore

(left) SELF=PORTRAIT  WON  [l972-2000]:  ‘SADDENED  MONA LISA SWEATING  ( PASEENA-PASEENA) IN THE SHALIMAR GARDENS ON HER RECENT LAHORE YATRA – – (she is not  a young debutante, anymore) – – , AND NOTHING TO BE HAPPY ABOUT GEOFFREY’S  MOTHERLAND being drained per  LAW OFF RULERS AND THEIR CUTLERY: OIL AND MIXED MEDIA,  3-D+ RELIEF; (SCULPTURAL ARTWORK MADE WITH FIBREGLASS ON PLEXIGLASS).  SIZE 25 inches X 20 ½ inches.

Art of, and for, Syyed Iqbal Geoffrey – – he being a genuine mussawere (artist) and a prominent vakil ( facilitator of justice-with-love) acclaimed by Sir Herbert Read as an “Astonishing Phenomenon” and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has graciously described him as “The Arts Counsel of Great Britain   – –  is not a born-again outlet or some glittering outage chamaking (shinning on a Cash ‘N  Carry basis in Neverneverland. (References : Zoha Noor-Fatima A. Haider (London)* & Suellen W. Liker (Phoenix)**

(above: SELF=PORTRAIT TOO [1962-2012] : “HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN WITNESSING THE FIRST DROP OF DEW FALLING ON INDIGENOUS MAN’GO!!” oil and mixed media on cardboard-canvas; size 47 inches x 27 inches .. current token price PRs 78600.92P. (may not be acquired at this important stage of its creation by any foreigner). Subject to increases with notice.)

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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.

Stories of sex-workers in Heera Mandi, Lahore and beyond

Posted by Raza Rumi

A TV journalist prepared this bold documentary for a news channel but it was never aired for obvious reasons – electronic media remains conservative about taboo subjects. The documentary provides great insights into the way women live, work and identify themselves as sex-workers in Lahore’s oldest red-light district known as Heera Mandi (Diamond Market) ironically next to the great Badshahi mosque. Coverage of Multan in the later parts is also interesting.

The narrator obviously has his biases – the usual refrain of middle class Muslims of the subcontinent – but he tries hard to remain neutral and investigative. There is a good dose of Mujras inserted into the series for the viewers; and tit bits of the Hollywood/Bollywood melodrama on the oppressed ‘tawaif’ (prostitute). Whilst tragedies bring these women to the sex-trade, not all of them lament their lives. If anything, Mirza Ruswa’s Umrao Jan (way back in the nineteenth century) was pretty comfortable and empowered by her profession. Similarly, one of the interviewees says: “money is the father, mother and everything for tawaifs”. The head of Kanjar biradri says that girls are taught to be ‘men’, earning ‘horses’ fooling their clients! Not to be missed.

My favourite is the ‘client’ who confesses how intoxicating it is to be “in love” with a sex worker. One gets tired of ‘using’ a wife all the time he says. Wish this documentary had been aired.

The language of these videos is Urdu so it might not be accessible to all the visitors here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyRYGczqsQo&feature=related Continue reading

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.