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The Cultural loss Punjab had to suffer
Shafqat Tanvir Mirza

SAWAN LA-EY UDEEK (folk tales) compiled by Khaqan Haider Ghazi; pp 176; Price Rs250 (hb); Publishers Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture, Punjabi Complex, 1. Qadhafi Stadium, Ferozepur Road, Lahore. It was the first feelings on the Urs of Madho Lal Husain when the then most active cultural body Majlis Shah Husain brought Saeen Bassa of Mozang to Al-Hamra stage to present traditional Daastan, while the art of Daastan goee was almost on the death bed, that with banishing the Punjabi language from madrassa and education system how much cultural loss we had suffered from British period followed by their created dummy democrats.
This sense of loss further deepened when Punjab University’s Punjabi teacher Saeed Bhutta collected some stories as told by his family Mir Kamal Din, the collection of which was later on published under the title, Kamal Kahanian.
But one wonders that the Punjabi Department under Prof Shahbaz Malik and later under Dr Ismat Ullah Zahid did not move to collect the real prose of Punjabi in vogue in the rural Punjab. Not only the Punjabi Department but whole of cultural organizations particularly funded by the Punjab government never bothered to extend care to the subject.
So much so that the richest body of the central government, the Evacuee Property Trust, whose main income comes from Sikh property never cared to publish the Janam Sakhi Sodiwali written in Babar and Akbar’s period and treasure the best traditions of Punjabi prose.
One wonders that Gen Ziaul Haq was universally accused of extending support to the “terrorists” of Khalistan but in his rule the Punjabi Department was the biggest base from where almost all the liberal Punjabi writers were outrightly condemned.
Nothing came out good from this dirty place. Not even the Janam Sakhi in our Persian scripts. Once Zafar Cheema wanted to publish the same Janam Sakhi in our script from Dayal Singh Research Centre but in PPP’s regime he was kicked out and the so-called research cell has most probably forgotten verses of Baba Nanak, Punjab in his period, Punjabi language used by Bhai Bahla and Mardana and Nanak himself. Even the full text of Nanak’s verse was published by Sufi Mushtaq and not by the DSRC.
The sense of cultural and linguistic loss further deepened on the publication of Khaqan’s collected folk stories from his neighbouring district Vehari which was part of the district Multan until the 1990s decade.
These five stories he heard from Mian Aslam of Vehari which include story of a Baloch sardar and princess Rani Hansaan of Patiala, Momal Maindhara of Upper Sindh. Dhol and Maaroon of Rajputana-Punjab, Bakhtvar Badshah and his minister and Alamgir Badshah while in Lahore.
All these stories are of very old times and it is not the first time that they have been heard. Once this was the favourite subject to recite to the dynasties whom the Mirs used to serve. It must be a very old tradition kept alive by the Mirs who are responsible for keeping alive the stories of Heer-Ranjha, Mirza-Sahiban, Sassi-Punnu, Umar-Marvi, Sohni-Mahinwal, Qeema-Milki, Momal-Maindhara or Rano and many others.
Some of the stories mainly in verse were recorded by Rischard Temple in the book Legends of Punjab but rest in prose was thought a difficult job by temple whose government was out to discourage Punjabi language after it captured the land of the five rivers.
Many of the Seraiki protagonists claim without any fear of contradiction that Khwaja Farid was the only poet of Punjab who in his poetry referred Momal and Maindhara as symbols like Heer and Sassi but because they lacked the knowledge of their past culture when Momal Maindhara were also household words in the south Punjab as Heer and Ranjha are in Sindh and Sindhi.
The best proof is the 60-page long story of Momal Maindhara, Khaqan heard from Mian Aslam of Vehari in the first decade of 21st century. It clearly means this was one of the popular stories in the south for centuries and Khwaja Farid and even Waris Shah from central Punjab had referred these stories including the famous Umar Marvi in his Heer. Same is the case of the story of the prince of Rajasthan Dhol, the word used throughout Punjab for the lover. Punjab has also its version known as Dhol-Shams…Sammi…the word from which Sammi dance has been derived.
In all three romantic as well as tragic stories the one party is Muslim while the other is Hindu… may be Baloch from Vehari or princess Hansaan of Patila.
So is the case with Maindhara and Momal and Dhol and Sammi. This is very significant in the background of Muslim minority rule, then British rule and finally the concept of majority rule. Why is that in Sindh, Punjab and Bengal the Sufis were much more important than the rulers of the time and why some of the top Sufis, now geographically located in India like Moeenuddin Chishti and Nizamuddin Aulia came to Punjab to seek education and inspiration?
Why is it that the provinces close to the capital of the Muslims remained dominantly non-Muslims while Punjab, Sindh Bengal and Kashmir were of Muslim majority. Which were the areas in which Muslims were much better-off.
All such issues were needed to be probed and studied in length after partition. But the rulers were not free from amassing material and political strength. Now the immediate question is whether the Punjabi Department in Punjab and Seraiki departments in Bahawalpur and Multan would take care that such best pieces of prose be included in the syllabus and under extra reading head?
PUNJABI ADAB … No 97 …. Quarterly magazine of Pakistan Punjabi Adabi Board, editor Parveen Malik; pp 128; Price Rs50; published from 14 Ilaco Mansion, Patiala Ground, Lahore. w.site…. www.punjabiadbiboard.com. This issue is a bit late, includes four articles on classical poet Shah Husain by Husain Shahid, Muhammad Ali Chiragh, Shamim Akhtar and Parveen Malik.
Husain Shahid’s article, symbols used by Shah Husain written in the sixties of the last century are perhaps one of the best during the last 50 years. What happened afterwards when even the Punjabi was introduced at Masters level in the Punjab University?
Incidentally Shah Husain is loudly owned by the Seraikis but it has not been studied deeply in the Seraiki departments of Multan and Bahawalpur.
The other day a Punjabi teacher and writer Jameel Pal was saying that the Punjabi movement has no whole-timers. One wonders some 200 Punjabi teachers at colleges and university or not whole-timer. The answer should be they are careerists!
Curtsy:DAWN.COM. PUBLISHED APR 27, 2011 






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