Category Archives: heritage

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

Nadira Begum’s tomb – faded glory of Lahore

Saad Sarfraz Shiekh’s excellent article and photos

The tomb of Nadira Begum...

The tomb of Nadira Begum…

Finding Nadira Begum’s Tomb isn’t hard since its right next to Sufi Saint Hazrat Mian Mir’s shrine.

Nadira Saleem Banu was the wife of Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh, the ill-fated heir to Shah Jahan’s throne and the crown prince of his Indian empire.

She died in 1659, several months before Dara Shikoh execution, and was survived by two daughters. No sons survived thanks to Aurangzeb Alamgir, who got rid of all male threats.

Stories of Nadira Banu’s beauty and intelligence were famous throughout the empire. She was the daughter of Shah Jahan’s half-brother, Prince Perwez, and therefore Dara Shikoh’s cousin.

Her would-be husband Dara Shikoh was eager to marry her and had a good relationship with her throughout his turbulent life. He never remarried, in spite of the common Mughal practice of persistent polygamy and overflowing harems. Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal, Dara’s mother, arranged the marriage when both Dara and Nadira were teenagers.

Dara Shikoh’s sister Jahanara Begum got along with Nadira quite well, as reflected by her involvement and interest in Nadira’s wedding and her closeness to him. Continue reading

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

Hundreds of parks now victims of PHA neglect

By Nauman Tasleem

LAHORE: The Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) is neglecting hundreds of small parks in different parts of the city.

The authority has been focusing on 600 parks, including a few main public places, while ignoring the remaining 400 situated in different localities of the city. The PHA was established in 1998 with the objective of making the city “clean and beautiful”. The authority works on the parks and grounds of housing schemes approved by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA). The PHA is neglecting a little under half of around 1,000 parks in the city, leaving most of them in an abysmal state. Continue reading

Say a little a prayer for Lahore

 

By Ahmad Rafay Alam
The only thing as incredulous as the recent announcement by the Government of Punjab — it intention to construct a highway through the heart of Lahore — was the recent statement of the CEO of Fashion Pakistan Week that their glorified display of clothes was a “gesture of defiance towards the Taliban.”
Our fashion industry is as much of an industry as the Holy Roman empire was holy, Roman or an empire. Our designers are talented without doubt; but to suggest that parading scantily clad men and women down a runway behind the bunkers and barricades of a five-star hotel in Karachi is an act of defiance is, well, really stretching the limits to which the “security situation” can make a fool out of us. Continue reading

It’s time for the October Critical Mass Lahore!!!

Join Lahore’s 11th Critical Mass Event at 10:15am this Sunday 25 October 2009 from the Fountain Square, Neela Gumbat, behind Bank Square on Mall Road, Lahore.

This Critical Mass cycling event ill see us prowling the innards of Lahore where riding a bike offers the chance to sample more of  Walled City life without picking a tab.

The thrum of the historic Walled City will lift your spirits as we catch the city-folks going about their morning ritual of Nashta.  If you’re worried about the security situation, you can stay at home at let the terrorists win.

Spinning via Anarkali Bazar we will enter the walled city from Lohari Gate and zigzag our way through the maze of Said Mitha, Paniwala Talab, Rang Mahal, Kashmiri Bazar, Chuna Mandi, Sheranwala Gate, and weave our way back from Fort Road, Red Light District, and Bhati Gate returning to Nila Gumbad via Lower Mall.

Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport. Critical Mass is about putting public good over private interest. Critical Mass is about making friends. Critical Mass is about reclaiming public space. Critical Mass is about showing a man or a woman on a cycle is the same as one in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy.

Merchant collection nets £653,000, necklace at £55,200

Oct. 8: Indian-born producer-director Ismail Merchant’s personal art collection sold for £653,000 at an auction by Christie’s in London.

The highest price was paid for the painting by Hungarian artist August Theodor Schoefft, entitled The Thugs of India halt at the shrine of Ganesh, which was sold for £91,250 to a private British collector. The unusually large painting was estimated to sell for £70,000-100,000. Continue reading

NECKLACE OWNED BY WIFE OF THE LAST SIKH RULER, THE LION OF THE PUNJAB, FOR SALE AT BONHAMS

An important 19TH Century emerald and seed-pearl Necklace from the Lahore Treasury, reputedly worn by Maharani Jindan Kaur wife of Ranjit Singh, the Lion of the Punjab (1780–1839), is for sale in Bonhams next Indian and Islamic sale on 8th October 2009 in New Bond Street.

The necklace has six polished emerald beads, one later converted to a pendant, each bead gold-mounted and fringed with seed-pearl drop tassels, fastened with a gold clasp. It comes with a fitted cloth covered case, the inside of the lid inscribed: “From the Collection of the Court of Lahore formed by HH The Maharajah Runjeet Singh & lastly worn by Her Highness The Late Maharanee Jeddan Kower” It is estimated to sell for £25,000-35,000. Continue reading

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.

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

Abandoned pleasures

LAHORE: The paien bagh at the Lahore Fort is without visitors. The garden was adjacent to the sleeping chambers and was built by Emperor Jahangir in 1633AD. It was used only by the inmates of the emperor’s harem. Continue reading

Royal tombs in a shambles

Royal tombs in a shambles
Dawn Editorial

Sunday, 24 May, 2009

It seems that the Taliban are not the only ones who have little respect for national heritage.

Mughal Empress Noor Jehan (d. 1645) was prophetic when she composed the epitaph for her own grave. It runs thus: ‘Pity us, for at our tomb no lamp shall light, no flowers seen/ No moth wings shall burn, no nightingales sing’. What she did not foresee was that a similar fate would befall the nearby tombs of her brother Asif Khan and husband Emperor Jehangir at Shahdara. 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

Envoy visits Lahore Fort

The NEWS reports:

US ambassador Anne W. Patterson has stressed the need to protect shared cultural heritage.

She paid a visit to the Lahore Fort to mark the completion of Alamgiri Gate, another US-funded conservation project.

“Every time I come to the Lahore Fort, I am amazed by its magnificent architecture”, said Ambassador Patterson after she was received by Punjab Archeology Department director Shahbaz Khan. Continue reading

Mystique of treasures

Source here

ON March 10, 1957, in a run down house in Model Town, Lahore, died the last grandchild of the greatest ruler of the Punjab, Maharajah Ranjit Singh. The few remaining ‘treasures’ of the Lahore Darbar still left with Princess Bamba, mainly oil paintings of the 19th century, were ‘gifted’ to the government. They are today displayed in Rani Jindan’s Palace in the Lahore Fort.

Princess Bamba died a virtual pauper. She refused to leave Lahore. Her father, Maharajah Dulip Singh, had been robbed of his ‘rightful’ treasures by the British government, leaving him to die in 1893 in Paris, as a bankrupt refugee. Continue reading

People’s history of the Punjab: Humanism and equality

The poetry of Shah Hussain explored the socio-political dimensions of Punjabi society

Shah Abdul Latif Bhita’i was a contemporary poet of Bulleh Shah

Dr Manzur Ejaz writing for TFT

Islamic extremism is not new in the subcontinent: At one time even the Emperor Akbar, the most liberal among Mughal rulers, was forced to ban alcohol under the pressure of the religious establishment. However, at that time the difference was that an alternative ideology was also evolving, but this is not the case in the political discourse of today. The Pakistani state has successfully created a disconnection from the tradition of an alternative ideology by promoting the religious version of the ruling Muslim elites – most Muslim rulers were conservative Sunnis – and Mullahs.
The alternative ideology in the Punjab started with the Chishtia’s challenge to the establishment through the rebellious poetry of Baba Farid-ud-din Masood Ganj-e-Shakar (1175-1266). Baba Guru Nanak, following this tradition, critiqued the political economy as well as the system of ideas prevailing in both Hindu society and ritualistic Muslim religion. Nanak negated the political system more directly than anyone else had done in the Punjab before him.

Baba Nanak (1469-1539) was very methodical in his intellectual discourse. In his Japji Sahib, he undertook the rebuttal of the presumptions of the Hindu religion and its philosophy. He negated the Muslim practice of ritualistic practices, but because of Islam’s monotheism his criticism of it was not as harsh as it was against Hinduism. Furthermore, since he absolutely negated casteism and gender differentiations, his main target was Hindu philosophy and its practices. Probably, this is the reason that Muslims wanted to bury him according to Islamic tradition.

On the political level Baba Nanak’s main criticism was against foreign invaders and their religious pretensions. Baba Nanak is the only poet who described the invasion of the Mughal Emperor Babar, (1483-1531). He observed that Babar did not differentiate between Indian Muslims and Hindus and dishonoured their women indiscriminately. According to him, Babar arbitrarily destroyed mosques and mandirs. In conclusion he sums up:

Pap ki janj ley Kabloon dhaia, jori mangay dan vey lalo

([He] mounted an invasion with his sinful party (army) and he demands donations by force)

Baba Nanak also provided a deep insight into the exploitative economic and social systems in India. This was one of the main reasons that he attracted so many Punjabi artisans to his teachings. The class of poor Jat peasants joined him at a later stage. Baba Nanak’s complete comprehension of the system became the basis of a religious and nationalist resistance in the Punjab, while the works of Sufis were not able to induce an organized movement that could sustain itself. This had positive developments in the Punjab as far as putting an end to the invaders from the North was concerned, but Sikhism lost its edge in due course because it became just another organized religion with all the usual ritualistic aspects. Nonetheless, this negative development does not diminish Baba Nanak’s significance as a thinker espousing an alternative ideology to the one enforced by orthodox Islam and Hinduism. Continue reading

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

Kafi Shah Hussain

Below are Part I and Part II of recordings of the Kafi of the Sufi poet Shah Hussain sung by the late Ustad Nazir Butt.

Mela Chiraghan begins with traditional fervour

mela-chiraghan

Shah Hussain (1538-1599) was a Punjabi poet and a saint. He was the pioneer of the Kafi form of Punjabi poetry.

By: Rana Latif | Published in The Nation March 29, 2009

LAHORE – Mela Chiraghan, festival of light marking the 421st annual Urs of Hazrat Shah Hussain (RA), a saint with a different trait and a mystic poet of Punjabi with distinction, commonly known as Madhu Lal Hussain who lived in Lahore in 16th century (1538-1599), began with traditional fervour at Shalimar, Saturday evening.
It is perhaps the biggest festival of Punjab after the Urs of Data Ganj Bakhsh (RA) and Baba Farid (RA) of Pakpattan. Mela Chiraghan has many distinctions particularly the singing of ‘kafi’ of Shah Hussain in Punjab, who was perhaps the pioneer of Kafi that carried rich intellectual and spiritual values.
He himself sang his own kafis before the people bringing big applause. His kafis reflect the defiant attitude and independence of thought, away from the contemporary thoughts of religious and social hierarchy. The whirling dervishes on the tunes of drums sing kafis at the Mela. It is a rare event of whirling and dancing on the beats of drum. Its rhythm is a heart catching as Shah Hussain’s Kafis carry rich musical values and element of entertainment, liked by folk of Punjab.