Tag Archives: South Asia

Babe ki chidyian

By Haroon Khalid 
The South Asian culture is rich because of its various hues and diversities that characterize its idiosyncrasy. Bright colors, rituals and superstitions for practically every action, and numerous festivals all give a distinct flavor to the South Asian life. There is a saying that in Pre-Partition Lahore there were 30 days in a month and 31 festivals. Most of these rituals and practices are not as obvious as they were a few decades ago, however if one is willing to dig beneath the surface and explore the rich heritage of Pakistan’s unexplored rural and sub-urban life, one would end up unearthing celebrations that would leave one surprised and asking for more.

The annual festival to mark the urs celebration of Syed Akbar Ali Shah at a small village near the historical city of Chunian is one such tale of the fascinating life in India and Pakistan. The Saint had 4 sons viz. Khwaja Abdul Aziz Mast, Ghulam Mustafa, Muhammad Ashraf and Khalil Ahmad. Khwaja Abdul Aziz Mast was the eldest of them all and the heir of the Sainthood (Kadi Nasheen). He was a colorful character, who gave a unique blend to his father’s annual urs. He started calling eunuchs each year to take part in the festivities. He would treat them with a lot of love, an act which no one else was willing to extend to them, not even his own brothers. He would say that those whom no one loves, I would, which also endeared him to the eunuchs. Every year they would come to the 9 day and night celebration of the urs, dance and sing all night, collect money from their adorers and sleep all day. His brothers, in particular, Ghulam Mustafa, was more puritanical in his approach and condemned the ‘disrespect’, these eunuchs brought to the final resting place of his father. He gave his brother an ultimatum to end this ‘un-Islamic’ act. Baba Mast, as Khwaja Abdul Aziz Mast is popularly known was a man of love, who did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings. He left the spot, where the Kadi Nasheen used to sit, and moved a few kilometers towards the Chunian city, next to the Balloki canal. The eunuchs also accompanied them. Gradually the pomp and splendor of the tomb also shifted to where Baba Mast had established himself, so much so that after a little while, his brother was left with no other option but to call Baba Mast back. Continue reading

’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


In response to a question by Danish Mustafa I am posting this fabulous article by a leading scholar-poet found here.
By: Najm Hosain Syed

From his book: Recurrent Patterns In Punjabi Poetry

In the new Lahore lies buried Shah Husain and with him lies buried the myth of Lal Husain. Still, at least once a year we can hear the defused echoes of the myth. As the lights glimmer on the walls of Shalamar, the unsophisticated rhythms of swinging bodies and exulting voices curiously insist on being associated with Husain. This instance apparently defies explanation. But one is aware that an undertone of mockery pervades the air – released feet mocking the ancient sods of Shalamar and released voices mocking its ancient walls. Husain too, the myth tells us, danced a dance of mockery in the ancient streets of Lahore. Grandson of a convert weaver, he embarrassed every one by aspiring to the privilege of learning what he revered guardians of traditional knowledge claimed to teach.

Then again, fairly late in life, he embarrassed every one by refusing to believe in the knowledge he had received from others, and decided to know for himself. He plucked the forbidden fruit anew.

The myth of Lal Husain has lived a defused, half-conscious life in the annual Fare of Lights. The poetry of shah Husain which was born out of common songs of the people of the Punjab has kept itself alive by becoming a part of those very songs. In recent past, the myth of Madhu Lal Husain and the poetry of Husain have come to be connected. But the time for the myth to become really alive in our community is still to come.

Husain s poetry consists entirely of short poems known as “Kafis.” A typical Husain Kafi contains a refrain and some rhymed lines. The number of rhymed lines is usually from four to ten. Only occasionally a more complete form is adopted. To the eye of a reader, the structure of a “Kafi” appears simple. But the “Kafis” of Husain are not intended for the eye. They are designed as musical compositions to be interpreted by the singing voice. The rhythm in the refrain and in the lines are so balanced and counterpointed as to bring about a varying, evolving musical pattern. Continue reading