Tag Archives: culture

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

First Gurmukhi course concludes

By Ali Usman

LAHORE: The graduates of the first Gurmukhi Certificate Course were awarded certificates on Wednesday after the completion of the course at the Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture (PILAAC).

The Gurmukhi Learning Certificate Course – the first course of its kind in Pakistan to teach the Gurmukhi script of Punjabi commenced at the institute last month. Some 35 students were registered for the course, of which 21 qualified the final examination. Gurmukhi is the universal script used for writing Punjabi, and is quite close to the Hindi script. In Pakistan, the Shahmukhi script (also called the Persian script by some) is used for writing Punjabi. Continue reading

No change in police culture

By Arshad Dogar

 The Investigation Wing of Lahore police is using ‘conservative’ methods of interrogating ‘criminals’ despite the government’s tall claims of reforming the department.

 A weekly review of the performance of Investigation Wing of Lahore Police reveals that it has absolutely failed to provide relief to robbery victims. In a rare example, however, police recovered booty and arrested dacoits within one month. Majority of cases are pending with the investigation police for many years and victims had become tired of paying ‘fees’ to investigation officers (IOs) which sometimes exceed the victim’s actual losses. Continue reading

A tale of two cities

By Sonya Rehman & Khaver Siddiqi 

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…’ Charles Dickens’ literary masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities, begins with these words. Though the novel has a theme of self-sacrifice and resurrection, the starting line of the novel can be applied here in Pakistan to two of its largest and most prominent cities — namely Karachi and Lahore.

 Indeed both cities have seen the best and the worst of times as far as the music industry’s concerned. But how do these cities relate to one another? How does their music combine and form the modern music scene as we know it?

 The music that originates from the Punjab is as intricate as its historic architecture. Lahore, the ‘garden of the Mughals’, has seen a myriad of melodies, genres, and vocals alongside a variety of musical instruments (both new and old) over the past few decades. Continue reading

Dancing in Lahore

‘Lahore is a city that has to fight for its cultural survival. The growing influence of the Taliban, although hundreds of kilometres to the north-west, has been mirrored by a more insidious, creeping attack on culture throughout the country. On Jan 2, the bullet-ridden body of Shabana Gul, a dancing girl, was dumped in the centre of Mingora, the north-western district of Swat’s main town.But the growing cultural conservatism has had more subtle reverberations.In December, Lahore’s High Court barred the graceful and elaborate dancing girls, who first developed in the Moghal courts 400 years ago, from performing in public, on the grounds that they were too sexually explicit.

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

Another sensational article on Lahore

I am posting this piece not because it has anything new to offer but as yet another specimen of exaggerated reporting on Pakistan. Comments are welcome. Raza Rumi

With each act of terrorism, cultural life in Pakistan suffers another deadly blow.

By Shahan Mufti – GlobalPost

Published: March 23, 2009 06:57 ET

LAHORE — Pakistan’s second city, widely considered to be the country’s cultural capital, is undergoing gradual but unsettling change.

For hundreds if not thousands of years a bastion of social and cultural life for not only the region but the world, the city has become a soft target for those who disagree with the Pakistani government and its policies, or with society at large. Continue reading

Old Lahore, old books

Posted by Raza Rumi

Darwaish

I grew up in Androon Shehr (old city) of Lahore in the 1980s.

Most of my childhood and teenage years were spent in my Nana Jan’s house located at Lodge Road in Old Anarkali. It was an old but large house, left by a Hindu migrant family, located inside a narrow street of hundreds of years old neighborhood with Jain Mandir (when it existed) just two blocks away and Mall Road merely a ten minutes walk.

Nana used to tell us that Gayan Chand, the head of that Hindu family, spent three long years building this house and it was a strange twist of fate that finally when it got completed in 1947 and he was just about to move in, partition took place. Not only did he lose his newly built house but he also had to flee the city where his forefathers had lived for centuries. Just like Nana Continue reading

Lahore’s oldest guide

Raza Rumi

The interior of Data Darbar

The grave of the saint

Outside the shrine,

The shrine at night

Perhaps the greatest of the experiences at Data Darbar is to find oneself connected to a stream of humanity, shoulder to shoulder, with a shared sense of spirituality that cuts across ethnicity, sect, ritual and even religion at times. Despite the mayhem, the serenity of the place is soothing

“To traverse distance is child’s play: henceforth pay visits by means of thought; it is not worth while to visit any person, and there is no virtue in bodily presence”

Last week, accompanying a visitor from the Mecca of Sufis, Delhi, I reconnected with the Data Darbar or the royal pavilion of the great saint of Lahore, Ali bin Usman Al Hajveri. This shrine is the oldest and perhaps the most vibrant cultural marker of the past one millennium in Lahore. The title of Ganj Bakhsh was bestowed by the saint of the saints Khwaja Moin ud din Chishti of Ajmere, whose ascendancy in the Chishtia Sufi order is recognised by all and sundry. Pilgrimage to Ajmere by itself is a matter of spiritual attainment for the majority of Muslims in the subcontinent. It is not difficult to imagine then what the stature of Lahore’s Data Darbar is in this esoteric yet real and lived Islam in South Asia. While Khwaja Moin ud din Chishti honoured the Lahori saint with the title “bestower of treasure,” ordinary folk on Lahore’s streets were more direct by naming the saint as Data, the one who facilitates the fulfilment of aspirations.

Living nearly 11 centuries ago, Syed Ali bin Usman Al Hajveri was not a Lahori but a resident of Lahore’s cultural step-cousin, Ghazni, until he arrived in India and wandered in northern India before settling in Lahore for the last 34 years of his life. This was the time when mystics from Central Asia, in their constant urge to discover new vistas of spiritual exploration, started to travel and settle in different parts of the Indian subcontinent. It remains a mystery as to why Data Ganj Bakhsh would have chosen Lahore as the final stop in his life long journey. Perhaps the secular interpretation could be that Lahore was an inevitable stop over for all the Central Asian and Turkic caravans and armies and provided the right kind of environment for a foreign mystic to amalgamate into. A little before Ganj Bakhsh’s arrival, Lahore had been resurrected from the earlier ravages of time by the Ghaznavid ruler Mahmood and his son Masood.

Lahore’s fame had also spread deep into the rugged, mountainous climes of Central Asia. Its old fortified city, the banks of a gushing river and the motley collection of artisans, masons, artists, poets and musicians were all too well known.

During the 34 years of his Lahore residence, Ali Hajveri became the most revered of dervishes whose inclusive and tolerant mystical path attracted the majority of its non-Muslim population. Let us not forget that the non-Muslim population was also a subject of a pernicious caste hierarchy where access to templar gods and clerical blessings was denied to a good number of the population. This was the beginning of a centuries’ long process of peaceful conversions. Islam’s egalitarianism and its larger message of equality before God was quite a magical idea for many, not to mention that the Sufi path did not require conversion per se. This is why Data Darbar has been a hub of inter-communal quests for spiritual attainment.

Other than that, Ali Hajveri’s important contribution to the corpus of documented mystical thought is the treatise that he authored and left for posterity. Known as Kashf- al- Mahjub, or “Unveiling of the Hidden,” it is a monumental document striking for its communicative tone and systematic way of discussing mysticism.

Through the dynasties that were to follow Mahmood Ghaznavi’s controversial military campaigns, the primacy of Ali Hajveri’s shrine continued. Its centrality to the evolution of Muslim rulers meant that the origins of Islam were paradoxically not rooted in the capture of power. Voluntary conversions at Sufi khanqahs and dergahs were a constant process. The Sultans of Delhi and the Moghuls were all enamoured by the mythical might of the saint, and while the imperial grandeur continued, the ordinary Lahoris had already renamed Lahore as “Data ki Nagri”- Data‘s city. Khawaja Moin ud din Chishti undertook 40 day long meditative exercises at this shrine before he moved to Ajmere to carry on the Sufi mission of spreading love, tolerance and harmony and of re-emphasising the indivisible equality of man. The Moghul prince and heir apparent Dara Shikoh, like his great-grandfather Akbar, was also a true devotee of Data Ganj Bakhsh.

The decline of the Moghul Empire did not impact the energy of the shrine. In fact, the formidable Punjabi leader, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, like his predecessors, invested in the upkeep and expansion of the shrine complex. The rulers dare not afford the wrath or displeasure of the saint, such has been the power of imagination. Therefore, it is but logical that Mian Shahbaz Sharif, during his first tenure as the chief minister of Punjab, initiated the mega project of Data Darbar‘s physical renewal, expansion and “beautification” in the late nineties. Continue reading

World Performing Arts Festival: attracting large crowds


By Ali Usman

LAHORE: The World Performing Arts Festival received its largest crowd of the year on Sunday, as many families availed the holiday to visit the fair and observe the performances on offer.

However, most families seemed to differ on which performances they should attend and several people were seen choosing different exhibitions and plays to watch on their own, while their family members attended different performances.

Iqbal Ahmed, one such viewer at the festival, said that he and his family had arrived at the festival together but upon reaching it had differed on what they should watch. He said that they had decided to go their separate ways and watch the shows that interested them individually instead of watching the same things. Ahmed, who was watching the classical dance performance, said that his wife and daughter had decided to attend the puppetry show, while his son had preferred to watch drama. Continue reading

Rewriting history -Government is considering to extend Lahore Museum

By Waqar Gillani writing for the News on Sunday

The expansion of Lahore Museum according to international standards, is yet to be seen. The old Tollington Market on The Mall which was decided to be used as an extension of the museum, is still locked..

The Tollington Market renovated a couple of years back, was formally inaugurated last year by the then governor. Only a lane divides the two buildings — Lahore Museum and Tollington. The Board of Governors (BoG) of the museum, in its 47th meeting, decided to set up a ‘City Museum’ in the Tollington Market, approving that the artefacts of national museum from the city could be shifted to this place. The board came to the conclusion that Tollington Market was the most suitable place for extension of the museum because of its proximity to the Lahore Museum and approved a subway to connect the Lahore Museum with Tollington Market.

The idea was to get the space to display its over 40,000 artefacts which are lying in the inventory for lack of space. They were scheduled to be displayed at the city museum at Tollington Market after its opening in September 2007. The Lahore Museum has over 60,000 artefacts in its possession. Since the museum did not have enough space, only 20,000 artefacts are on display there. Continue reading

Social audit unable to justify police funding over last two years

By Anwer Hussain Sumra (Daily Times)

LAHORE: The social audit of the Punjab police, which is generally conducted by a third party, has not been able to properly asses or justify the bulk of the non-development budget being provided since July 2006 to end the shabby thana culture of police stations, an official told Daily Times.

Thana culture refers to the general impression that the public has about thanas and police officials that are found there. In July 2006, the former chief minister of Punjab conducted a social audit of all police stations after various reforms had been introduced, the official, requesting anonymity, said. He added that community policing, waiting rooms, duty officers, extra allowances for sub-ordinates, shift system and the provision of new weapons and vehicles at all police stations had been implemented. Continue reading

Sex, culture and pictures – top 5 searches for Lahore-Nama

I hardly get the time to look into the statistics concerning blog-visits etc. But this one was most revealing – Google’s earlier reports on sex obsession of Paks was not all that wrong..

pictorial lahore
whores in lahore
lahore women sex pic
old architecture photo india
heera mandi

New Lahore bookshop revives reading culture

By Kamila Hyat, for the Gulf News (April 28, 2008) 

Lahore:  For years, book lovers in Lahore, a city reputed for its literary history as well as its architectural inheritance, have mourned the apparent loss of the love of reading.

Many book shops have gradually vanished and in others, magazines have taken the place of more substantial tomes.

Teachers and parents have lamented the fact that in an age of television, DVDs, computer games and numerous other forms of jazzy electronic entertainment, children had turned away from books.

But, a single experimental idea has proved much of this conjecture about the relationship between Lahoris and books to be false.

The large Readings bookstore, which stocks row after row of used books, encyclopaedias and other literary material from the US, has within the two years or so of its existence become one of the most popular spots in the city. Continue reading

On Lahore’s canal

 Columnists, critics, students, travelers, and bloggers gather together to share their memories of Lahore’s fabled canal at the Pakistan Paindabad blog with  excellent pictures taken by Usman Ahmed.

The BRB Canal

Constructed in 1861, this 82-kilometer-long, tree-lined Banba-wali Ravi-Bedian (BRB) stream slices its way through the heart of Lahore – meandering through posh colonies, smooth highways, famous colleges, scenic student hostels and cheery cricket grounds.

Coming Together

canal8

Here are the musings and observations of few people nice enough to share their “canal moments” with us.

1, 2 and 3!

canal7

By Irfan ‘Mazdak’ Husain
[Pakistan’s eminent columnist, Mr.Husain writes for The Dawn and Daily Times. He divides his time in Karachi and London.]

I have been lucky enough to have traveled to many countries over the years, and have driven across some spectacular landscapes that included mountains, sea-sides, valleys and lakes. But I can never forget driving along the Lahore canal, with its canopy of trees overhead, as the full moon’s reflection followed me on the surface of the water. Continue reading

Lahore – A visit to Bibi Pak Daman

Guest post by Destitute Rebel
The city of Lahore in Pakistan is known for its rich culture, Forts & Grand Mosques, its food and music are world famous, Also famous are the sufi saints who hailed from this city or came here to live and were burried here, among the more famous shrines of Lahore are Data Darbar the Shrine of Hazrat Ali Hajweri Syed Abul Hassan Bin Usman Bin Ali Al-Hajweri the famous Sufi saint of Persian origion, The shrine of Gamey Shah, The tomb of Baba Shah Jamal and Bibi Pak Daman.Although I’m not very religious I decided to go visit Bibi Pak Daman as the legend behind this particular shrine was quite interesting. Bibi Pak Daman is famous for being the shrine of 6 Ladies from the household of the Prophet Mohammed, Including Ruqayah binte Ali the daughter of Hazrat Ali the forth caliph of Islam the othe five graves are said to be those of hazrat Muslim bin Aqeel’s sisters and daughters. Legend has it that these ladies were traveling alone after the events at karbala and when the reached Lahore the ruler at that time tried to arrest them because the were gaining a following and not wanting that, Bibi Pak Daman prayed to God and asked him to open the earth and take them in, when the soldiers came to arrest them the earth split into two and they went in only a little of the Dupatta (scarf) of Bibi Ruqayah remained and when the lead soldier tried to get hold of that it too slid into the soil, Thus the name Bibi Pak Daman meaning even the scarf of the lady was pure and thus could not be touched.

The Mazar is the end to a busy and colorfull street full of shops selling religious literature, multimedia and prayer beads among other things

Ban on Basant: 500,000 families without bread and butter

By Nauman Tasleem (Daily Times)

LAHORE: Around 500,000 families, directly related to the kite flying business, have lost their sources of livelihood because of the ban on Basant, the stakeholders of the kite flying industry told Daily Times on Friday.

The ban is costing them Rs 200 million annually, and at the same time damaging other businesses that are indirectly related to the festival. They said that the people related to the industry, including kite makers, twine (dor) makers, wholesalers and retailers, had lost their means of earning a living.

The cost of the paper used in kite making is estimated at around Rs 90 million and the cost of the twine used for flying kites is estimated at around Rs 40 million. Continue reading

Lahore and Isfahan share the same cultural soul

From the Daily Times

Guest in town: ‘Lahore and Isfahan share same cultural soul’

* Isfahan mayor says city government of Isfahan spends $300m yearly on cleanlinessBy Ali Usman

LAHORE: Lahore and Isfahan share the same cultural soul and the two cities should strengthen cultural relations, whatever their political relations, said mayor of Isfahan, Iran, Dr Saghaeian Nejad.

Dr Nejad was talking to Daily Times on Saturday. His recent visit to Lahore aims at giving practical shape to the cultural agreements signed three years ago between the city governments of Isfahan and Lahore, when Lahore District Nazim Amer Mahmood visited Isfahan.

Dr Nejad said, “Political relations change with the changing times, but the cultural relations bind the nations. Both Lahore and Isfahan have great cultural diversity, historical background and hospitality. There is an old adage that Isfahan is the half world, but I must say Lahore and Isfahan together make the whole jahan (world).”

He said Lahore and Isfahan bore a great resemblance, as both had been the capitals during Ghazni and Mughal dynasties. Jamia Masjid (Isfahan) and Badshahi Masjid (Lahore) look alike in terms of architecture, he said. He said both the cities had shared sisterly relations and the city governments of the both cities had agreed to name their streets after each other’s names. Continue reading