Category Archives: culture

Lahore’s love for renowned poet

Faiz was not just a phase
The poet, who died in 1984, remains well loved in the city he made his home for
decades.

By Kamila Hyat’s story for The Gulf News

Lahore: A celebration of what would have been the 99th birthday of poet Faiz Ahmad
Faiz is on in Lahore, with a series of art exhibitions, poetry recitations and more.
The poet, who died in 1984, remains well loved in the city he made his home for
decades.

A museum set up in a private house as ‘Faiz Ghar’ (the house of Faiz) pays tribute to the
poet while his verses remain a feature in many school text-books. Continue reading

Sad news: Kite-flying to stay banned

Raza Rumi

I know that Lahore Nama has been visited in the recent days by hundreds and thousands of Basant enthusiasts. This is unfortunate that an age-old fetival is being banned and denied to people only because the government cannot regulate malpractices by a few business people and the bankrupt, failed WAPDA.

Hope that this festival will come back to Lahore. We strongly protest against this policy decision. Pakistan cannot be made a afe haven for roaming terrorists and suicide bombers while the peaceful citizens are denied the opportunity to celebrate a festival that is so deeply a part of our culture.

Here is the Daily Times story on this:

* District administration warns violators of stern action
* DCO says ‘Governor’s House’ no exception to kite-flying ban
* Police crack down on kite makers

Daily Times Monitor/Staff Report

LAHORE: The district administration has decided to maintain the ban on kite-flying in the provincial capital as per the orders of the Lahore High Court (LHC), warning that those violating the law would be dealt with sternly, a private TV channel reported on Friday.

According to the channel, a meeting presided over by Lahore District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sajjad Bhutta, decided that those found violating the court orders would be dealt with strictly under the law.

The DCO said the LHC had declared that permission to celebrate Basant could be given if a Continue reading

TALIBAN THREATS ASIDE, THE SHOW GOES ON IN LAHORE

Despite the threats from Taliban, the show goes on in Lahore. Click on the link below to watch an interesting report about threats and difficulties faced by artists and theater workshops. Must watch:  http://vjmovement.com/truth/542

A singing Romanian gypsy falls in love with Lahore

European artist fears terrorism will shatter her dreams

* Jina Rubik says Pakistan cultural heart of subcontinent, suffering because of insecurity

By Afnan Khan

LAHORE: A European artist has found herself trapped between her passion to learn and promote music and performing arts of the subcontinent, and the current downfall of arts and culture due to terrorism in Pakistan. Continue reading

Lahori malangs shine at SAARC festival in Chandigarh

From Shahzada Irfan

CHANDIGARH, India:  A thunderous applause and endless admiration followed the dhamal performance of malangs from the shrine of sufi poet Shah Husain in Lahore, in the city’s Tagore Hall on Saturday.
The malangs, who came here to participate in the second SAARC Folklore Festival, have become an instant hit and are being requested by the organisers for repeat performances, on public’s request. Continue reading

Lahore Arts Council to host international moot

LAHORE: The Lahore Arts Council (LAC) will host an International Literary and Cultural Conference in the second week of November. Addressing a meeting on Tuesday to review administrative arrangements for the conference, LAC Chairman Ataul Haq Qasmi said it was part of the council’s efforts to promote literary and cultural activities. Internationally-acclaimed writers and critics would present their essays in the conference. Indian writers had also been invited, which would help strengthen relations between the two neighbouring countries Continue reading

Shalamar conservation

Dawn Editorial

The news of the completion of some conservation work by Unesco at the historical Shalamar Gardens, Lahore, is nothing short of exhilarating. Continue reading

Destruction of Lahore’s famous food street

A Gul’s article for The Friday Times published this week. Credits, copyrights for photos and text remain with TFT

Gawalmandi food street at night

The ruins of an entrance to the Gawalmandi food street

The flow of traffic through the demolished gates of food street

Banners proclaiming an alternative perspective

Food street offered outdoor desi cuisine amidst the elegant colonial architecture

Once standing, these mini-towers quickly became one of the cultural symbols of Lahore

I recalled the evenings that I spent ordering mouth watering kababs, tikkas, fried fish and other desi delights at night. Also rampant were the thoughts of halwa-puri, til wale naan and murgh chanay that are cherished by Lahoris. But then I saw the damaged entrance to the food street and while I was entering, my hunger temporarily vanished

Although the issue of Gawalmandi food street is local, it does lead to broader questions. In the greater scheme of things, we must think about where we are headed in terms of our cultural identity

The decline and ruination of heritage in Pakistan by the callous state is a well known story. This is a common ailment that afflicts the planners and developers across South Asia where architectural legacy of a thousand years is being decimated and commercialization has a free reign in urban contexts. A departure from this trend occurred when a well known, controversial yet engaged civil servant turned around Lahore’s cultural life by introducing the concept of pedestrian food streets and adorning the vibrant canal that runs across Lahore with a green lifeline. We witnessed the endearingly kitschy floats representing the various sub-cultures of Pakistan and in the late-nineties a busy street was turned into a pedestrian space where the legendary cuisine of Lahore was showcased for its urban residence and the tourists alike.

The adjoining old buildings mostly dating from the colonial era were restored with tasteful facelifts. Art students and designers were duly involved in this process. This was perhaps the saving grace of an otherwise vulgar promotion of the khaba culture. For years this became a modern landmark of sorts. Tales of the first Gawalmandi food street spread across the globe and every visitor wanted to be there. It brought a glimpse of the erstwhile, pedestrian pre-partition city with choicest Lahori food delicacies.

Other cities were green of such a popular entertainment enclave. People from Karachi would often cite this as a model to follow. Islamabad emulated this at the Melody Market.

And all of a sudden in an oppressively hot summer of 2009, we discovered that Gawalmandi food street has been undone for a mix of political pressure, administrative negligence and sheer indifference to culture. Why are we so eager to destroy what adds to cultural value of our fledgling society. If anything, we ought to preserve these little signs of renewal and regeneration.

The apparent excuse for altering the pedestrian nature of the food street was to lay sewer pipeline. It seems like a typical bureaucratic shenanigan whereby some sort of ‘development’ is cited as reason good enough to damage environment or heritage. If a public utility had to be extended to this area, there must have been multiple other ways to manage this process. The lock stock and barrel razing of the place belies this claim.

The heart of the matter pertains to the local politics and wrangling that goes on unabated in Pakistan. Yet the mainstream media has not even bothered to report this matter in its full light save a few newspapers and may be one television channel. On a side note, what does this imply regarding the purported freedom of the media? Is it the case that media in unconcerned about civic issues and only focused on palace intrigues and glorification of unelected arms of the state? A trivial issue like a cultural emblem of subcontinent’s most talk about city is nothing but a footnote of the corporate media interests. I asked to myself, why shouldn’t a pedestrian culture get any attention? With these thoughts and others, I entered the Gawalmandi food street on a humid morning of Lahore’s stifling August. There was a traffic flow that could easily drive you nuts with loud glaring horns, usual feature of old Lahore’s environment. Amidst such loud horns, I was about to enter into the food street.

I recalled the evenings that I spent ordering mouth watering kababs, tikke, fried fish and other desi delights at night. Also rampant were the thoughts of halwa-puri, til wale naan and murgh chanay that are cherished by Lahoris. But then I saw the damaged entrance to the food street and while I was entering, my hunger temporarily vanished.

Before it was virtually halted, one would go to the food street, find a proper place to sit, chit chat with one’s companions, order desi delights, enjoy the meal under the grandeur of old colonial architecture and have a full fledged Lahori evening.

But recently the food street has been dogged by a controversy. The food street can be properly functional only when the eateries can provide outdoor seating so as to attract people who want to enjoy desi food under a starry sky. But presently the street has been opened up for traffic round the clock and people can only have their food within the premises of the dhabas. This has two major ramifications. One, the people whose livelihood depended on the sale of food will suffer since the pre-partition, old world setting has been a major attraction for people to visit food street in the first place. Secondly, within the larger picture, this step will lead to the destruction of an important cultural symbol of Lahore.

Not only did Lahoris enjoy visiting the food street, its popularity also attracted national and foreign tourists. A local shopkeeper who has now been working for over a decade in the food street mentioned this as a central recognition that food street had achieved in terms of cultural attraction.

Also important is the media coverage attracted by such places. The elegant portrayal of the pre-damage food street resulted in a non-militant peaceful outlook of mainstream Pakistan. And what is important is that unlike many other artificial attempts to glorify a peaceful ‘enlightened’ Pakistan in the past few years, the revival of the food street seemed to be very natural since it appealed to our overall lifestyle.

Although the issue of Gawalmandi food street is local, it does lead towards larger questions. In the greater scheme of things, we must think about where we are headed in terms of our cultural identity. I must make it clear that unlike many ‘cultural extremists’, I do not have a worldview that revolves almost entirely around the notion of tradition. But still, culture is universal, and it is valuable. To care for one’s own culture is indispensable. But if we start to dispense with it, then we are surely on the path towards cultural oblivion, and I say this not metaphorically but literally. A vibrant culture always connects with our history and origins. Thus if we are to undo the signs of the past and neglect heritage we will never be able to understand our present.

The value of history and the preservation of diverse, colourful traditions enable societies to progress and prosper. Pakistan is not just a sixty two year old entity. We are the inheritors of great civilizations and thousands of years of a plural, tolerant way of life. The destruction of food street and its unsung death therefore saddens many of us. The decision makers in the Punjab must revisit this decision; protect the threatened livelihoods and the ambiance of a great city that by all accounts is shehron ka shehr

A Gul lives in Lahore. This piece was prepared with contributions from Raza Rumi

Hopes dashed along with Lahore food street gates

By Zaheer Mahmood Siddiqui, Dawn Metropolitan, 7 August 2009 http://tiny.cc/lart3

Gowalmandi food street gate being pulled down in Lahore. –Photo by Tariq Mahmood

LAHORE: Gowalmandi Food Street that had been contributing to promote the soft image of the country, particularly of Lahore, all over the world during the last one decade or so, finally fell prey to the culture of ‘political intolerance’ on Thursday.

Around 10,000 people, earning their livelihood at the food street, lost their last hope on Thursday when the Data Gunj Bakhsh Town administration pulled down its decorative gates.

Though bosses of the ruling PML-N in Punjab term the demolition operation an effort to remove hindrance to ‘smooth flow’ of traffic, residents of the area believe they have been victimised for their political dissent.

‘In fact, the rulers don’t want continuation of a project which is still being overseen by the people related to their rival party – the PML-Q. The thoroughfare is not a main artery and had become a family spot over the years,’ a PML-Q leader told this reporter on the condition of anonymity.

Another resident who used to earn livelihood by running an eatery on wheels in the food street said: ‘After assuming power, everyone wants to undo the steps taken by their antecedent, without thinking for a moment what will be its repercussions and how many people will be affected?’

‘No resident of Gowalmandi has ever lodged any complaint against the food street,’ he asserted while rejecting the government claims the action was taken on the complaints of the area people.

’Lahore is the true cultural capital of south Asia’

LAHORE: Provincial Minister for Tourism and Food Malik Nadeem Kamran has said that Lahore is the true ‘cultural capital of south Asia’ as our rich cultural heritage reflects the splendor of different ages which adds to the beauty of the way of life.

“Its need of the hour to attract international tourists to take pleasure in our cultural heritage in a more befitting and organized manner.” In this connection, Punjab government has finalized the arrangements to launch sightseeing tourist bus service for tourists which will be on road within few days, he disclosed. Continue reading

Population explosion bad for Lahore’s culture: Taseer

Population explosion bad for Lahore’s culture: Taseer
LAHORE: Lahore’s distinct identity as the city of twelve gates and gardens is threatened by the rapid increase in population, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer said on Saturday.
Talking to reporters at an exhibition, Taseer said Lahore enjoyed a unique status for its cultural and literary heritage among the historic cities of the world. He said the city was faced with multifarious problems because of a rapid population increase over the past two decades, adding that there was a dire need of long-term planning to provide basic amenities of life to the citizens. The governor commended the work of the students of the NCA who, he said had presented a true picture of the past, present and future condition of the historic city of Lahore. Taseer said he would ask Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif and Nazim Amer Mehmood to devise a policy for the city on the issues of population explosion and the other civic problems. app
LAHORE: Lahore’s distinct identity as the city of twelve gates and gardens is threatened by the rapid increase in population, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer said on Saturday.
Talking to reporters at an exhibition, Taseer said Lahore enjoyed a unique status for its cultural and literary heritage among the historic cities of the world. Continue reading

CULTURES OF PUNJAB

The geographical entity in the north-western region of India called Punjab, the land of five rivers, has been and still is an integral part of the common pool of Indian culture. Its arts and crafts also form an important part of the deep-rooted artistic tradition of India and are equally rich and significant.

The culture of Punjab prior to the partition of 1947 was a mixture of three strains one flowing frorn Kangra hills, the second from south-western area from Multan to Lahore, and the third from Peshawar w Lahore. Continue reading

ADP’s Latest Blog Entry: The Great LUMS Trip Day 1

Posted by Raza Rumi

Read this crisp, fresh and youthful perspective on a blog entitled Koolmuzone: Pakistani Underground Media. The real Lahore lives beyond the cliches of terrorism and media-cooked crisis. I am cross-posting this as the readers would get a flavour of the youth and their interaction with myriad facets of Lahore.

The fact that I had so much to blog about usually puts me in denial of how much I have to blog about. The result is I don’t blog. But here I have forced myself to go back to writing and give you the account of our concert at LUMS. Last weekend ADP were booked to play at LUMS University’s 10 Year Re-Union of their Music Society. Now we got the gig mostly because Omar Khalid is a favorite son of LUMS and he seems to have this legendary reputation there as an extraordinary musician. The kind of awe that OK inspires in LUMS freshies is pretty surprising to me. No doubt OK is an extraordinary musician. But as we all know, he is mostly a choot. Anyway, I was pretty sour-grapes because for once I wasn’t hogging all the attention, and for some reason everyone in LUMS seemed to assume that OK was the lead singer of ADP. Continue reading

Ajoka’s Musafat theatre festival (May 17-24)

Say No to Talibanization Cultural activity is under threat in Pakistan

Please attend Ajoka’s performances:

1. Hotel Mohenjodaro on 17th May

2. Dekh Tamasha Chalta Ban 18th May

3. Burqavaganza 23rd May

4. Bulha 24th May Venue: 8:00p.m, at Alhamra Hall # 2, The Mall, Lahore.

Entry is Free In Karachi, the festival will be held at the Arts Council from 30th May to 4th June 2009

For further information 042-6682443/ 6686634

Sufi ‘Mystic Music’ festival to be held from 30th

LAHORE: Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop on Tuesday announced holding its annual Mystic Music Sufi Festival 2009 from April 30 to May 2.

Talking to reporters, the Peerzada brothers said this was the 6th annual Sufi Festival organised by Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop. The festival brings with it a rich variety of Sufi music from across the country. Performers from all four provinces will take part in the festival and over 300 artists will perform. “Through the Sufi Festival, we look forward to highlighting the cultural and traditional warmth and wisdom of Sufi poetry,” said Faizan Peerzada. “We are hopeful that such festivals will bless all of us with tolerance, wisdom and a light leading to a new direction,” he added. Continue reading

Critical Mass Lahore February 2009

critical-mass-iii2
The last Sunday of the month is approaching. You know this means it’s time for Critical Mass.
Join us at 10am this Sunday 22 February for Lahore’s 3rd Critical Mass cycling event.

Cyclists in China coined the term Critical Mass to describe the phenomenon that takes place when cyclists can take over streets and traffic dominated by automobiles. Critical Mass now takes place in over 200 cities around the world.
Critical Mass is not an organization. It is an idea. Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport.
Critical Mass is about showing a man on a cycle is the same as a man in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy. Critical Mass is about having the right to mobility.
Everyone in Lahore knows how bad the traffic is. Critical Mass Lahore is the first step in taking our streets back.
Critical Mass is an idea. Make it yours.

What do I need to participate in a Critical Mass Event?

Nothing but a road-worthy cycle and an sense of fun.

Where and how else to Critical Mass Events take place?

Critical Mass events are typically held on the last Friday of each month in cities all over the world. Get more information at http://www.critical-mass.info. For information about Critical Mass Lahore, some to Zakir Tikka at 10am on Sunday 22 February 2009.

Lahore 1883-4

posted by Raza Rumi

Read this amazing piece, thanks to UQ.

ء1881 دی مانو گنتری موجب ضلع لہور وچ ہندواں، سکھاں تے مسلیاں دی گنتری ویکھن نال ساڈے بہوں عبقریاں دے گویڑ صحیح نہیں رہندے۔ پر اسیں کیہہ کرئیے، اساں تے اوہی لکھاں گے جیہڑا اس گیزیٹئر وچ لکھیا ہویا ہے۔ جو انج ہے،

Read the rest in Punjabi here

The native returns

Unaffected by the prophets of doom, a Lahori decides the city is the place to be

By Raza Rumi

Twenty years ago, I left Lahore. Excited by prospects of quality higher education and the adolescent yearning for freedom, this was a moment that only with age I have understood. A flash that alters the life-path even when one is not aware of it. As I grew up and visited Lahore from a multitude of cities and continents, Lahore’s provincialism and inward-looking ethos irked me. However, the splendour of its lived history and multi-layered present fascinated me endlessly. A false sense of fatalism whispered that my exile was going to cover a life-span.

The last few years were spent abroad: so dejected I was that not living in Lahore would mean living just anywhere. When I decided this summer to return to Pakistan, I was astounded by the reactions from all and sundry. I was told that I am ‘mad’ to have chosen to return to a burning, imploding and crashing Pakistan. Such is the power of global corporate media that even the discerning and schooled Pakistanis have started to believe in the failed state mantra scripted outside Pakistan. Continue reading

Great music lives on in Lahore

by Raza Rumi

This is the magic of Lahore and its deep-rooted cultural mores. No other city can boast of such individuals, movements and trends. Hopefully, the music will live on. The interest of younger generations and their experiments with various forms of music hold great promise

Last week the breezy environs of the majestic Lawrence Gardens once again swayed to the tunes of Hindustani classical music. A week long music festival organised by the All Pakistan Music Conference attracted musicians, vocalists and enthusiasts from all parts the country, as well as from the imagined “enemy” India. How could it not be the case when musical traditions emerged out of a cultural synthesis of 700 years or more?

The leading light of APMC was Hayat Ahmad Khan, whose sad demise in 2005 was interpreted as an end to the glorious tradition of subcontinental streams of music in Pakistan. However, 83 years of hard work and philanthropic contributions was not in vain. He left behind a powerful institution and a network of committed individuals and aesthetes who have kept the torch ablaze. Not a small feat in the troubled waters of a Pakistani cultural landscape constantly under attack by nation-state ideology and extremism that consider music to be too “Indian” or, even worse, un-Islamic.

This is the greatest irony of our existence: the Muslims in India contributed to what is known today as Indian classical music and innovations such as the sitar and the tabla. The Qawwal bache trained at the shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi under the tutelage of Amir Khusrau became the founders of what was to later evolve as the sophisticated Khayal style of music. In dire times of the Sultanate and Mughal periods, these musicians had to take refuge in the princely states, and this is how the various gharanas, or schools of music, originated. This loose network of musicians organised along the lines of kinship or teacher-pupil bonds, sustained by court patronage and eclectic and secular in appeal, led to some fine moments. Tansen at Akbar’s court, Mohammad Shah Rangeela’s patronage and later the Kingdom of Oudh defined the high-points of this fused and seamless culture beyond religion, communal and sectarian divides.

To keep this tradition alive in post-independence Pakistan was a Herculean task. Pakistan was a moth-eaten and truncated country in the words of its founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The psychological trauma and barbarity of the Partition had jolted everyone and the traditional patronage of the state was missing. It was under these circumstances that on September 15 1959, music-inspired citizens met at the famous Coffee House of Lahore and launched a voluntary organization called The All Pakistan Music Conference. Eminent personas such as Roshan Ara Begum were among the illustrious list of its founders.

It should be noted that this was also the age when the maestro Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan migrated to India and Roshan Ara Begum was almost about to give up the passion of her life. Thus Continue reading

Bashir Mirza’s paintings on display

* Work receives great appreciation n Visitor says young artists could use such exhibitions to improve artistic skills

Daily Times Report

LAHORE: The last of the bohemian paintings by the late Bashir Mirza were put on display at the Ejaz Art Gallery to highlight the noted artist’s work and life on Saturday. The paintings were not the original ones, instead, they were the digital prints of the original paintings.
Continue reading