Tag Archives: Heritage

Databank of over 1,000 historical sites handed over to Sindh government

BY HANEEN RAFI

KARACHI: More than 1,000 historical sites in Sindh have been painstakingly documented and made part of an electronic database, which was handed over to the Sindh government at a ceremony on Tuesday.

The Heritage Foundation of Pakistan and the RWTH Aachen University of Germany have worked together for over three years to create this databank that focuses on establishing an authentic inventory of cultural sites in the province.

Detailed information of the 1,162 notified heritage sites of Sindh is part of a vast periphery of work that has been carried out in the province by local and international organisations. For architect Yasmin Lari, one of the project directors, “This database is about saving Sindh’s tangible heritage through management and safeguarding mechanisms.”

Though Sindh is one of the oldest civilisations, enjoying a legacy of Sufism and mysticism, folklore and oral histories, the cultural sites within it are in a state of neglect and are wearing out much faster than anticipated. This loss is not just of a tangible heritage, but also of an intangible one, which Ms Lari stresses should be halted.

Cultural sites in Badin, Dadu, Hyderabad, Ghotki, Jacobabad and Jamshoro are included in the databank. However, the most marked ones are the Moenjodaro and Makli sites, which are part of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s world heritage list.

Dr Michael Jansen, the project director representing Aachen University, said: “The most important question is how to integrate the value of the jewels of Sindh into a strategic programme for further economic and social development.”

Continue reading Databank of over 1,000 historical sites handed over to Sindh government

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Faded glory: Sindh’s resolute fighters stand tall but forgotten

By Z Ali

HYDERABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party’s chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has put on the map the slogan ‘marsoon marsoon Sindh na desoon’ [we will die but will not give up Sindh]. What few people know is that the now-famous catchphrase was coined during a battle against the colonial British army in the 19th century.

The Talpur army’s general, Hosh Muhammad Sheedi, popularly known as Hoshu Sheedi, coined the term to inspire the soldiers who were faced with a well-armed and disciplined British army in the battle of Dabbo. He laid down his life in the fight along with his compatriots on March 24, 1843, in Miani Forest in Nerunkot (the old name for Hyderabad).

Sindh’s historians have always held Sheedi in great reverence. The Sindh government has also named some structures, such as flyovers and roads after him, besides introducing him into the academic curriculum. What is devastating is the fact that his monument in Hyderabad, inaugurated during the former Nazim Kanwar Naveed Jamil’s district government in April 2009, has been imperiled by sheer neglect since. The monument, built in a triangular enclosure on Risala Road in the centre of Hyderabad’s City tehsil, reflects his posture of leading the soldiers. The small piece of land where Sheedi sits mounted on a horse along with three companions, remains littered with garbage. The district government had placed five iron boxes for spotlights which were never installed. A few days ago, someone even stole the sword that Sheedi carried in his hand.

Continue reading Faded glory: Sindh’s resolute fighters stand tall but forgotten

The Folktales of Sindh – An introduction – Words Without Borders

The Folklore and Literature Project, the forty-two-volume Sindhi folklore collection compiled by the scholar, philologist, and folklorist Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch (1917–2011) and published by the Sindhi Adabi Board, is one of the great treasures of world heritage. This literature spans the historic land of Sindh, home to the Indus Valley Civilization (3300–1300 BCE), situated in present-day Pakistan. It is likely that in the folktales preserved in the Sindhi language, we can find the structures and traces of the earliest stories from the Indus Valley Civilization

Baloch divided this literature into several broad categories: “Fables and fairy-tales; pseudo-historical romances; tales of historical nature; folk-poetry; folk songs; marriage songs; poems pertaining to wars and other events; riddles; proverbs; wit and humor; and folk customs.” Of this collection, seven volumes were dedicated to folktales: The Tales of Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses (vol. 21), Tales of Kings, Viziers, and Merchants (vol. 22), Tales of Fairies, Giants, Magicians, and Witches (vol. 23), Tales of Kings, Money-lenders, Wise-Men, Thugs, and the Common People (vol. 24), Children’s Tales (vol. 25), Fables of Animals and Birds (vol. 26), and Even More Folktales (vol. 27).

Collected from both the oral tradition of the villagers and written records, the stories were gathered and compiled over five years from 1957 to 1961. A network of field workers stationed in each district transcribed the folktales from the oral accounts of villagers in different parts of Sindh. The field workers were instructed to transcribe the tales exactly as they heard them. At the compilation stage, different versions of the same tale were compared, the variants noted, and a final version prepared for publication. Where only a single version for a folktale was found, it was retained with minimum verbal modification necessary to make it readable.

Continue reading The Folktales of Sindh – An introduction – Words Without Borders

Sindh Festival is a ray of hope: Bilawal Zardari

KARACHI: Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said Sindh Festival is a ray of hope and it will bring Mohenjo Daro and Makli back to life.

In a televised speech on Tuesday, he said that Sindh festival would become an annual event. “We are proud of our old heritage and will protect it,” the young PPP leader said. Patron-in-chief of the PPP was of the view that our civilisation is under threat because of the Taliban. We will fight against terrorism. The PPP’s outspoken leader, who criticises Taliban militants often, said the world would see how deep our roots are. “We will tell the world that we are not as we are presented,” he said. Bilawal claimed that militants want to take everyone back to stone age, but ‘we’ will not bow before the terrorists. “We were civilized five thousand years ago, which they (militants) are far from even today,” said Bilawal. He reiterated “Marsoon marsoon, Sindh na daisun.”

Courtesy: Daily Times
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/22-Jan-2014/sindh-festival-is-a-ray-of-hope-bilawal-zardari

Winds from Sindh – Sindhi Music Festival in Delhi, India.

The Sindhi [Secular] Sufi Music Festival this weekend focuses on an example of shared heritage of India and Pakistan

The Delhi Government has become known for promoting art and culture with a number of festivals throughout the year. To brighten up this weekend is the Sindhi Sufi Music Festival organised by the Department of Art, Culture and Languages. Here, singers from India and Pakistan come together to sing Sufi compositions.

Two leading singers from Pakistan — Sanam Marvi and Tufail Sanjrani — will join their Indian counterparts — Ghansham Vaswani, Kajal Chandiramani and Uma Lalla — to showcase the shared culture of Sindhis through the poetry of Sufis like Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. Kathak dancer Namrata Pamnani will also perform at the festival. March 16 and 17, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) from 5 p.m.

Courtesy: The Hindu
http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/winds-from-sindh/article4512921.ece

Sindhi Hindu family’s heritage home in Hyderabad rescued from time

By Mahim Maher / Photo: Suresh K. Bhavnani / Photo: Ayesha Mir / Photo: Mahim Maher

HAWAI’I / HYDERABAD: This story starts in Hawai’i and ends in Hyderabad, spans half a century, includes a death threat and arson, 27 heirs, Rs28 million and a happy ending. (Jawaharlal Nehru makes an appearance too, although in passing.)

This December, if all goes according to plan, 79-year-old Indru Watumull will travel from her home in Hawai’i to see her family home in Hyderabad, Mukhi House, whose building has been 95% restored after five decades of abandonment. “Every time I hear[d] of something happening in Pakistan [over the years], I’d wonder what’s happened to Mukhi House,” she told The Express Tribune at her home this summer.

Mukhi House was built in 1920 by prominent Hyderabad figure Mukhi Jethanand (see box). “Mukhi wanted a real palace,” explains Kaleemullah Lashari of the antiquities department and the one-man army who has been working for five years to restore it. Indeed, one of the Mukhi family daughters, Dharam, who has incredibly sharp memories of the place even at 95 years of age, refers to it as ‘Mukhi Palace’ and not ‘house’ as the plaque says outside.

Unfortunately, Lashari’s searches of municipal archives and interviews with the family did not yield an architect’s name. But this much is clear: The house had all the trappings of a palace. It was built in the Renaissance style, but has strong influences from art deco in the form of murals, art nouveau via the stained glass windows and the Classical in the shape of its columns. And it looks magnificent.

Continue reading Sindhi Hindu family’s heritage home in Hyderabad rescued from time

Iqbal Tareen’s Interview with AwazTV on controversial & black “SPLGO.”

Iqbal Tareen is an author of “Harvest will come – Embracing diverse Pakistani heritage”, President of Silver Lining International, Inc., Chief organizer of “Democracy, Individual and Collective Human Rights, Education and Skills Development, Fight against Hepatitis in Pakistan”, former president of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) & and founder president of Jeay Sindh Student Federation (JSSF). The language of the interview is Sindhi.

Courtesy: Awaz Tv

Islamists destroy prized saints mausoleums in Timbuktu- UNESCO world heritage site on danger

UPDATE 2-Mali Islamists destroy holy Timbuktu sites

* Witnesses say Ansar Dine fighters take pick-axes to sites

* Attacks comes days after UNESCO danger warning

* Islamists now have upper hand in Mali’s north (Adds further details, switches dateline to BAMAKO, adds byline)

By Adama Diarra

BAMAKO, June 30 (Reuters) – Al Qaeda-linked Mali Islamists armed with Kalashnikovs and pick-axes began destroying prized mausoleums of saints in the UNESCO-listed northern city of Timbuktu on Saturday in front of shocked locals, witnesses said.

The Islamist Ansar Dine group backs strict sharia, Islamic law, and considers the shrines of the local Sufi version of Islam idolatrous. Sufi shrines have also been attacked by hardline Salafists in Egypt and Libya in the past year.

The attack came just days after UNESCO placed Timbuktu on its list of heritage sites in danger and will recall the 2001 dynamiting by the Taliban of two 6th-century statues of Buddha carved into a cliff in Bamiyan in central Afghanistan.

“They have already completely destroyed the mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud (Ben Amar) and two others. They said they would continue all day and destroy all 16,” local Malian journalist Yeya Tandina said by telephone of the 16 most prized resting grounds of local saints in the town.

“They are armed and have surrounded the sites with pick-up trucks. The population is just looking on helplessly,” he said, adding that the Islamists were currently taking pick-axes to the mausoleum of Sidi El Mokhtar, another cherished local saint.

Courtesy: Reuters

http://af.reuters.com/article/maliNews/idAFL6E8HU0XU20120630

‘Karachi Sindh Aahey’- (Karachi is an integral part and heart of Sindh)

People of Karachi and rest of Sindh meet at CHOKUNDEE to pledge preservation of Sindhi Heritage and welcome New Year!

Every year on 31st December, Sindh Democratic Forum (SDF) arrange DUYA/ Pirathna for the prosperity of Sindh and rest of the world and bid farewell to the last sunset of every year at some selected place of cultural and historic importance.

Today we are going to gather at one of Sindh’s greatest sign of cultural richness CHOKUNDEE graveyard Karachi. Please join us having candles and flowers to say good bye to the last sun of 2011 and pray for the prosperity of humanity and revival of peace and tranquility in Sindh, Pakistan and rest of the world.

Meeting time is 4.pm sharp and own Karachi, an integral part and heart of Sindh.

Pakistan: bombs, spies and wild parties

By Declan Walsh

Even before you reach Pakistan there’s reason to fret. “Ladies and gentlemen, we will be landing shortly, inshallah,” says the Pakistan International Airlines pilot, 10 minutes outside Islamabad. To the western ear this ancient invocation – literally “God willing” – can be disconcerting: you pray the crew are relying on more than divine providence to set down safety. But these days it’s about right – Pakistan, a country buffeted by mysterious if not entirely holy forces, seems to have surrendered to its fate.

Viewed from the outside, Pakistan looms as the Fukushima of fundamentalism: a volatile, treacherous place filled with frothing Islamists and double-dealing generals, leaking plutonium-grade terrorist trouble. Forget the “world’s most dangerous country” moniker, by now old hat. Look to recent coverage: “Hornet’s Nest” declares this week’s Economist; “The Ally from Hell” proclaims the Atlantic.

Continue reading Pakistan: bombs, spies and wild parties

Birmingham (UK), Calgary (Canada), Houston (USA) and Washington DC (USA) celebrated Sindhiat

Khalid Hashmani

Let us convey our gratitude to those who celebrated Sindhi culture and Sindhi identity in Birmingham (UK), Calgary (Canada), Houston (USA, and Washington DC (USA). Two more get-togethers (New York on Nov. 26 and Washington DC on Dec. 5) are still planned Sindhi Culture Celebration Day festivities of overseas Sindhis to create awareness about Sindhi culture of peace and heritage.

Courtesy » Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, 24th Nov 2011.

Washington Sindhis Join in “Sindhi Culture Celebration Day” Festivities

It is not only Sindhi-speaking people who are participating but also Pashto-speaking Sindhis, Urdu-speaking Sindhis, and Punjabi-speaking Sindhis, who live in Sindh are demonstrating their love for Sindh.

By Khalid Hashmani

The Sindhis who live in and around the Washington DC area joined festivities of the annual “Sindhi Culture Celebration Day”. The event was organized by Mrs. Nasreen and Mr. Iqbal Tareen at their residence in McLean suburb on the night between Saturday, November 19 and November 20, 2011. Several local Sindhis joined Tareens in this event to make it a memorable celebration of Sindhi culture, language and identity.

Continue reading Washington Sindhis Join in “Sindhi Culture Celebration Day” Festivities

Join Tri-State (NY, NJ and CT) Sindhi Community in celebrating International Sindhi Cultural & Solidarity Day

Join Tri-State (NY, NJ and CT) Sindhi Community in celebrating International Sindhi Cultural & Solidarity Day

Venue: Kabab King Mehal, 495 Hempstead Turnpike, West Hempstead, NY 11552. Date: Saturday November 26th, 2011 , Time:7:00 pm

Wear Sindhi Ajrak and Topi and Join millions of Sindhis all over the world in celebrating their culture, language and heritage. Sindhi people cherish their Universalist peace cultural practices. This event is open to all ages. Event includes food, music concert and cultural demonstrations.

Vanishing Sindhis!

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean

I share the following appeal from Mr. Mekan Vandiyar on “Vanishing Sindhis!”. Please share your comments and suggestions to mekan39@yahoo.com

My own comment is that Sindhis in Sindh, Sindhis in India and Sindhis living elsewhere should not be disheartened as there are encouraging signs that Sindhis all over the world can even say today “here is a Sindhi girl / boy from the Globe”. I do not have much insight into the notion that Sindhis in India can win a separate province, however, I feel that the harsh barriers that have kept Sindhis in India and Sindhis in Sindh, Pakistan away from each other will soon vanish and all Sindhis will also be be able to say “”here is a Sindhi girl / boy who loves Sindh as much as their new homeland“.

A recent announcement by the Indian and Pakistani government that they are normalizing business and economic relations and giving each other the “most favorite trading partner” status is one of those signs. The Sindhis from all over the world should not only encourage but also organize and participate in events that welcome every Sindhi regardless of where they live now. For example, the Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) whose members predominantly consist of those who migrated from Sindh (Pakistan) into the USA has been in the forefront of inviting prominent educationalists, political leaders, and writers who now live in India. It is time that all other Sindhi associations also follow this practice to bridge the gaps that may exist between various Sindhi communities.

Lastly, I assure Mr. Vandiyar that Sindhis in Sindh are more than ever determined to protect and advance Sindhi language, Sindhi heritage, Sindh culture of peace, and Sindhi identity. They are and will continue provide all their support to Sindhis in India or elsewhere in the world in their efforts to protect their and advance their Sindhi language, Sindhi heritage, Sindh culture, and Sindhi identity.

Continue reading Vanishing Sindhis!

Defend Sindhi nation’s heritage

– by Iqbal Tareen

Given rising threats to the integrity of Sindh, we must focus ondisciplining ourselves to become a formidable force against divisive and hate driven groups in our land.

I must caution everyone not to resort to knee jerk reaction but leverage power of logic and reason to face partitionist forces in Sindh. It is obvious that their game is designed to create a welcome situation for a military takeover lasting for another 10 years.

At the same time I urge every Sindhi (Who believes that he/she is Sindhi) to prepare for a long drawn moral fight against demonic forces who spread hate, fear, and intimidation in the land of Latif, Sachal and Saami. Every Sindhi (Who believes that he/she is Sindhi) child, adult, women, and men must prepare to defend the sovereignty of unified Sindh.

We must defend peace and brotherhood and sisterhood of all men and women living in Sindh without any discrimination based on religion, race, or ethnic origin.

We must defend Sindh & Sindhi nation’s heritage of peace, tolerance, and inclusiveness even if we have to fight until death.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, 4th August, 2011.

Sindhis are truly indebted to Ustad Manzoor and others who made Sindh their home.

After the partition of sub-continent, when the huge influx of immigrants were coming into Sindh, they were the Sindhis, who welcomed them with open arms, as per their culture, values, traditions and generous heritage. Sindhis accommodated them throughout and gave them place in the eyes!

Even though, their influx into Sindh, prompted and forced millions of indigenous sons of the soil of Sindh to leave their homes and hearts, saying ‘good-bye’ to their ancestral land, where they had been living since time of immemorial. All this because of historically proven centuries old civilised values and norms of Sindh. And, the sons and daughters of Sindh departed tragically to India in the name of partition.

The immigrants who came from all corners of India to Sindh, unfortunately they didn’t accept or adopt Sindhi language and Sindh’s evergreen, ever-shining culture of love, peace, tolerance and communal harmony. However, there were many who accepted Sindhi language, culture, values, songs and music. And, Sindh loves them, accept them and embrace them as her own children! One such beautiful immigrant was Ustad Manzoor Ali Khan, who revolutionised Sindhi classical music. He sang beautiful Sindhi songs and taught many young aspiring Sindhi students the art of classical singing. Sindhis are truly indebted to Ustad Manzoor and others who made Sindh their home.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups → YouTube

Ambassador Munter & Dr. Wyatt Visit Bit Shah Shrine

Bhit Shah: Ambassador Cameron Munter and his wife, Dr. Marilyn Wyatt visited the land of Sufi saint Shah Abdul Latif and marveled at the beauty of Bit Shah shrine in Matiari district, along with U.S. Consul General William Martin and C.G. information officer, Ms. Andie, they laid a cloth at the tomb and listened to traditional music with mystic fragrance. They were so happy to experience the rich Sufi cultural  heritage and to see the history and the peaceful traditions of Sindh.

People of Bhit Shah feel so glad to see honorable guests in their town and they appreciated Ambassador Cameron Munter’s visit to Bhit Shah Shrine.

Source – News adopted from facebook.

Sindhi Sangat Seminar – if we all come together, we can make miracles happen!!

Sindhi Sangat Seminar In Mumbai on 30th April

Mumbai: Calling all dedicated Sindhis … All those who want to do something to save their identity… Here is the right opportunity for you… We invest our time & money in so many things – do we treat this important?

We like Hindi and English dramas, dances, music and movies – have we realized such milestones are achieved by Sindhis also in our language but only a handful know about this. Do we realize that our culture is dying out to great extent? Do we know the people behind our rich Sindhi heritage and culture?

A platform to VOICE YOUR ideas Sindhi Sangat invites all young and ‘not so young’ individuals to come and discuss their ideas. Sindhis are dynamic and practical… If we all come together, we can make miracles happen!!

This is a get together of like minded, proud Sindhis will be held in Mumbai on 30th April 2011 at 5 pm. Entry by Invitation Only. You will be informed about more details of the event via email / sms / phone.

A meaningful contribution is what we are looking for from every individual who is a true Sindhi at heart! Contribution is not in monetary terms.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 22, 2011

Punjabi language movement – interview with Nazeer Kahut

Punjabi language is a most beautiful and melodious language of South Asia (sub-continent). Please don’t let it die. Do learn Sindhi, Saraiki, Balochi, Pashto, Brohvi, Hindi (urdu), English and other languages but keep Punjabi language to flourish along with them.

Punjabi is the language of Baba Guru Nanak, Baba Bulleh Shah and other Sufis. It is the language of love, peace and tolerance. Learning different languages are like skills. Punjabi language, Punjabi literature and rich Punjabi heritage are a treasure for the world. It is the moral responsibility of all to protect and promote Punjabi language and Punjabi culture and keep it alive for the global peace.

You Tube

Threat to Durga Mata Temple Nagarparkar, Sindh

Today, Pakistan is facing terror as it has in-dignified its own roots. Any nation who adopts an alien culture is bound for no peace. This is time to accept the roots. Hindus are indigenous people of Pakistan and Hindu temples and their culture is part of Pakistan’s cultural heritage. Hence all Pakistanis, especially Muslim Pakistanis should help preserve this heritage. People of Durga Mata Temple, Village Choryo, Taluko Nagarparkar, District Tharparkar, Sindh, Pakistan are demanding help to preserve their temples, heritage & culture.

You Tube

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Human Rights Commission of Pakistan requests your urgent intervention in the following situation

Description of the situation:

It has been brought to the knowledge of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) that extraction of granite in district Tharparkar, Sindh is posing a threat to a highly revered Hindu temple which is also a part of our precious cultural heritage. According to media the path leading up to the Durga Mata Mandir, situated on a hill in Nagarparkar, has been destroyed after a contractor used heavy machinery and dynamite to extract granite. This affront to a heritage site had greatly encumbered pilgrims who had visited the temple to celebrate their annual Shivratri Mela last month. Many of these pilgrims had come after a long journey from Nepal and India.

HRCP urges the Sindh government to take immediate notice of this important matter that relates to the preservation of the religious and cultural heritage of a Sindhi Hindu community. It is a basic right of every community to freely practice its religious rituals and preserve its religious heritage.

In a wider context, old temples that are located in Tharparkar are an integral part of Pakistan’s cultural and archeological heritage and must be preserved as a treasure that also asserts the identity of a religious minority. In fact, the threat to the Durga Mata temple should underline the need to preserve and protect many archeological sites that certify the cultural diversity and values of tolerance and brotherhood in this ancient land that is now Pakistan.

Action requested

* Extraction of granite from this area should immediately be stopped

* Concrete and urgent steps should be taken to preserve all cultural and religious heritages of all communities living in Pakistan

* Immediate special measures should be taken for the preserve Durga Mata Mandir

Who is a Sindhi?

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean

* A Sindhi is proud to call himself/herself a Sindhi. * A Sindhi truly loves the land of Sindh and pledges to protect its integrity and heritage. * A Sindhi does not plan or conspire to divide Sindh into other homelands. * A Sindhi does not engage or conspire to exploit or discriminate against other Sindhis. * A Sindhi is some one who is honest and selflessly serves other people of Sindh and shuns violence. * A Sindhi makes his/her mission to learn the Sindhi language. * A Sindhi appreciates Sindhi music, Sindhi literature, and Sindhi culture. * A Sindhi does his/her best to learn and appreciate the languages and cultures of others who make Sindh their home and are proud to call themselves Sindhis. * Do you think of yourself as a Sindhi? If yes,then you are a Sindhi.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, 21 March, 2011.

Responsibility to preserve Mohenjodaro transferred to Sindh

By Shahid Husain

Sindh: Karachi – The responsibility to preserve and maintain the 5,000-year old city of Mohenjodaro has been transferred to the provincial government, the Sindh Minister for Culture, Sassui Palijo told The News on Wednesday.

The minister said that this decision is in accordance with the current devolution plan in the country.

“Health, education, culture and tourism are being given to the provinces, in accordance with devolution plan, to ensure maximum provincial autonomy,” Palijo said. “The Antiquities Act will also be amended after a long time.”

Palijo further said that the Sindh Government has signed an agreement with UNESCO for the preservation of Mohenjodaro, which happens to be one of the largest heritage sites in the world. “The majority of the funding for the preservation of the site will be provided by UNESCO, while the Sindh Government and others will also make contributions,” said the minister.

Palijo credited Senator Rabbani for playing a vital role in the devolution plan. She said that work will also begin on ‘frozen projects’ that had been neglected for quite a while due to the lack of funding. Mohenjodaro was one of the greatest civilisations of ancient times and flourished on the banks of the River Indus (Sindhu).

“Before the arrival of the Aryans, the people of the Indus (Sindh) had already become a highly developed civilisation that spread over half a million miles. But then the civilsation vanished and all its glory was buried under massive mounds of sand. Excavations at Mohenjodaro and Harrapa proved the maturity and refinement of the people living in both areas. They used cotton for textiles, built large spacious houses and there were a number facilities for the residents, such as public baths ad well as an excellent drainage system. All these factors indicate that in many ways, the Indus Valley civilsation was more advanced than the Persians, Egyptians and Mesopotamians,” wrote former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and distinguished intellectual, Aitezaz Ahsan in his book called “The Indus Saga and the making of Pakistan. …

Read more : The News

MOEN JO DARO – SINDH

by Chandiramani

Ruins of Moen jo daro : 25 kms. Away from Larkana city in Sindh .. It was inhabited in 2000 B.C , abandoned in 1700 B.C and rediscovered in 1920 ‘ Around 5OOOO people stayed there at one time. Maybe more.

It was probably abandoned due to the floods as river Indus (Sindhu) changes its course very often Declared as Unesco world heritage site, Unesco 1n 1997 gave U.S $1O million for restoration and strengthening the base of the city .

5 artistic seals prove the extent of progress achieved in 2OOO B.C itself . The dancing girl denotes self confidence.

Wayang Kulit of Indonesia bears a lot of similarity to it. Scholars must do research on this similarity .

The priest or the king shows power and dignity and quite a few statues of goddesses were also found at the site.

Shiva was worshipped in this area is proved by phallus shaped stone objects in Moen jo Daro.

Moen jo daro had an excellent drainage system, planned wide roads, two storied houses – made of baked mud. There were also huge granaries for storage.

A great public bath has also been found at Moen Jo Daro with steps going down to a pond. Elliptical disc was found recently which may have been used fork eeping holy water . Pieces of charcoal were found at Moen jo Daro. This will help us to pin point the age of the site. According to latest reports on google all the ancient sites are eroding due to goverment neglect and public aphathy.

It is very heartening to know that Tata’s Fundemental Institute of Research which is highly respected all over the world, is undertaking a research on Moen jo Daro to find out if the city was laid as per astronomical placements of stars at that time like is the case with Borobudut, the largest Budhhist Complex in the world ( In Indonesia ). and Angkor Vat in Cambodia. Moen Jo Daro is a few hours drive from Karachi – Sindh.

According to Makarand Khatavkar who also conducted a lot of research on Moen Jo daro, the layout of the ancient Moen Jo Daro is astonishing and so are the seals.

Some streets in Moen Jo Daro were 33 feel broad, and had markets on both sides. At Moen jo Daro , there is a 5OOO year old well and the workers were drinking water from it.

Another very striking point was that no weapons of war were found at Moen Jo Daro.

Now about the script;: The Indus script has been known for the last century but until today it has not been deciphered.

However the studies by TIFR scientists and other world institutes suggest that Indus people wrote in a literary style and the script may have been written close to spoken languages like Tamil and Sanskrit .. The linguistic structure of the Indus (Sindhu) script suggests this .. Now the efforts are on to understand the grammatical structure of the script.

SINDHI & URDU are the most beautiful and melodious languages of South Asia

SINDHI & URDU are the most beautiful and melodious languages of South Asia (sub-continent). Please don’t let them die. Do learn Siraiki, Punjabi, Balochi, Pashto, Brohvi, English and other languages but keep Sindhi and Urdu along.

Sindhi is the language of Shah, Sachal, Sami, Ayaz, love, peace and tolerance and Urdu is the language of Khusro, Mir and Galib. Learning different languages are skills. Sindhi language, Sindhi literature and rich Sindhi heritage are a treasure not only for our coming generations but for the world too. It is the moral responsibility of all to protect and promote Sindhi language and Sindhi culture and keep it alive for the global peace.

You Tube Link

Jagruti- Sindhi film in Nagpur

Mumbai : First Ever Movie in Hindi about Sindhi Culture & Heritage “The Awakening Jagruti”. Enjoy watching story of a girl in search of her culture, with melodious rich Sindhi Music. It will touch your heart and you will relate her story with yourself. See prominent Advocate and Lok Sabha member Shree Ram Jethmalani on Silver screen. Enjoy heart throbbing foot taping disco Number by famous actress of Bollywood Preeti Jhangiani. Releasing in Smruti Cinema, Sadar, Nagpur on Sunday 19th at 9-30 am. Do not miss come with family and friends.

Sindh cultural unity

Sindhi cultural unity days —Nizamuddin Nizamani

Sindh volunteered to be the part of Pakistan and the Sindh Assembly took the first initiative to pass a resolution in favour of Pakistan. The incoming ruling elite of newly established Pakistan behaved contrary to the commitments and instead deprived the province of the privileges enjoyed even before independence

Sindh is celebrating culture days on December 4 and 5, 2010 to revitalise and revamp the Sindhi cultural symbols and way of life presumed to be under threat from the so-called external encroachment and the risk of extinction.

According to anthropologists, culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.

Sindh and the Sindhi language have a rich cultural heritage and have acquired many symbols from other cultures, eastern and western simultaneously, without compromising their basic formation. Historically, the Sindhi language was among the few recognised official languages in undivided India under British rule. The Sindhi vernacular has rich expressional potential catering to all aspects of socio-economic and administration systems, has written and oral capacity, symbols and phonics about all tangible and intangible things, emotions, feelings, norms, has a versatile and comprehensive vocabulary with many words for the same items in varying degrees and having multiple meanings for the same words.

The content and quality of the dialect, according to Tariq Rehman, impressed the British government. The Bombay government adopted Sindhi as the official language at the local level and in September 1851 made it mandatory for British officials to pass a Sindhi language exam as a prerequisite to qualify for a job in the administrative system of Sindh. The administration also took supportive steps to modify, simplify and enhance the Sindhi language by redesigning Sindhi letters into Arabic letters and increased the number of alphabets to 52 to cover all the sounds.

Tariq Rehman also provides that Sindhi remained a major language of basic schooling in the province. Sindhi intellectuals, researchers and critics argue that though Sindh volunteered to be a part of Pakistan and the Sindh Assembly took the first initiative to pass a resolution in favour of Pakistan, the incoming ruling elite of newly established Pakistan behaved contrary to the commitments and instead deprived the province of the privileges enjoyed even before independence.

In such a backdrop since partition, Sindhi culture has been on the defensive. Sindhi nationalists observe that since independence the state has been imposing Mughal and Arabic culture in the name of a single Pakistani identity at the cost of other cultures. ….

Read more : Daily Times

Rama Pir Sufi Saint of Sindh and Hind

 

Rama Pir Mandar

– Riaz Sohail, Karachi, Sindh

To read the report in Urdu, please click the following link;

or click the following link;

Courtesy: BBC urdu

http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/story/2008/10/081010_rama_pir_mandar_rh.shtml


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‘Beyond Hindu and Muslim’:

Rethinking Iconographic Models and Symbolic Expressions in Sindh, A Case of the Tradition of Rama Pir

By Sohail Bawani

Images, signs and symbols have always been significant intermediaries between the world and its representation before individuals. These images, signs and symbols portray more than just graphical facts, figures and forms; they are a means towards construction of human perception of ‘reality’: the ‘meaningfulness’ of the material world through the same (Lichty 2003: 1). Similarly, iconography, particularly portraying religious images, had played an important role in understanding and describing human interpretations about things beyond human imaginations, for example the matter of the creation of the universe.

The valley of the Indus River, since the time of its civilization’s peak and through local inhabitants and arrival of Muslims, including the Sufi saints, has been rich in its symbolic expressions and materials related to ‘image writing’; more specifically, within the context of the interaction between ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Islam’ in the Indian subcontinent (Khan 2004: 30). Moreover, not much has been written through the iconographic perspective about the cultural heritage in shape of sacred symbols among the various religious traditions in Sindh today.

With this perspective in mind, this paper is an attempt to explore the visual culture related to a devotional worship through a temple called Rama Pir or Ramdev Pir mandir, situated in Tando Allahyar, Sindh. The first part of this paper briefly describes different aspects of iconographic legends and symbols concurrently ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ in nature related to the famous charismatic figures in Sindh at present. This will be important in contextualizing the above visual culture in the broader context of religious traditions in Sindh. Moreover, the second part will take the tradition of Rama Pir, a Rajput prince-deity, as a case for depicting ‘syncretic’ (‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’) iconographic figure and symbol system. The third part will lead towards the main problem, by arguing as to what extent is it feasible to identify symbols and icons as ‘Hindu’ or ‘Muslim’ by taking the tradition of Rama Pir again as a case. Lastly, this paper will conclude by synthesizing the above part to draw some general principles on the same argument.

‘Neither Hindus nor Muslims’: Iconographic Legends and related Symbolic Expressions in Sindh, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar and Uderolal in Perspective

Richard Burton, in his famous account on Sindh has mentioned some Pirs revered by both Hindus and Muslims, in the portion in which he discusses tasawwuf, Sufism in Sindh (1975: 326). Among those Pirs he mentions Lal Shahbaz Qalandar and Sheikh Tahir containing both identities, i.e. as a Muslim Pir and also as a Hindu saint: Lal Shahbaz Qalandar as Raja Bharatri and Uderolal as Sheikh Tahir (ibid.). It is interesting to note from this observation regarding the names that perhaps it accentuated the perception of a community about a charismatic figure; which could be Muslim or Hindu.

It has been said that before the advent of Lal Shahbaz there was a Shivaite temple located in Sehwan in Sindh, where the shrine of this saint is situated. It might be an ancient pilgrimage center of the Hindus before the erection of the dargah (Boivin 2003: 7). Besides, a saint named Bharatri, an icon of ascetism in Indic traditions said to have been there before the arrival of the famous saint of Sehwan (Boivin 2003: 19); perhaps later became the appellation for Lal Shahbaz by the Hindus. On the other hand, it seems that association of Raja Bharatri, already a known character for Hindus, continued to exist in the form of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar later, as a Muslim Sufi saint. We may observe the impact of these parallel identities even after the demise of the saint-pir. For instance, a Hindu originated man called Lal Das came to Sehwan from Kashmir to pay homage to Qalandar and never went back (Boivin 2003: 13). A dargah of Lal Das was also erected after his death, who was buried rather than cremated. A small population of Hindus frequently visits this ‘Hindu’ shrine (Boivin 2005a: 316). Today, one of the most important rituals performed at the time of the urs (anniversary of a Muslims saint) of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is the mehndi; an important element for the bride and groom in Indian weddings even in present times. It may come as a surprise that the mehndi ritual is performed by the Thakurs, local Hindu inhabitants, even before the proceedings of the sajjada nashins commence (Boivin 2003: 18-19).

The Indus has been worshipped since the earliest times in the form of water and light by local dwellers. Uderolal has been invoked as the incarnation of the river-god of the Indus and known under various names such as Khwaja Khizr, Darya Shah, Dulah Lal, Amarlal, Zinda Pir and others (Dawani 2002: 63-64). Popular poster art, available at local bazaars and temples represents Uderolal sitting on a fish with his white beard and mustache, resembling that of a Muslim Sufi saint floating on the River Indus. This iconographic description resonates with the continuation of the ‘river-cult’ in the Muslim era in the form of Sheikh Tahir and Khwaja Khizr; perhaps by those proselytes who still venerated Hindu sacred spaces even after becoming Muslims. This fact can be understood by the architectural structure of the shrine of Uderolal; situated in Hala, near the Uderolal railway station, Sindh. This shrine-complex was built under the supervision of the Mughals having Kashmiri and Persian importation of design (Dawani 2002: 67). This shrine-complex has both a temple and a mausoleum. A wooden Samadhi has been erected in memory of the river-saint including his image in the temple, however, no idol can be found. An oil lamp burns there regularly (Dawani 2002: 68). After this observation, one may ask, which structure is older, the mausoleum or the temple? We may propose tentatively the ‘Mughalization’ of the ‘cult’ of Uderolal after the advent of the Muslims. The restoration of the place into a gigantic structure indicates that the Mughals perhaps attempted to appropriate the spiritual heritage within the Muslim context: continuing the tradition of river-worship by associating a similar figure called Khizr, a wali2 related to the river and a famous symbol among the Sufis; who used to guide their disciples, those not having any formal relationship with a Sufi master, but on their way towards unification with the divine in various Sufi tariqahs.

The Tradition of Rama Pir in Sindh

Rama Pir is popularly known under the name of Ramdev Pir in the Indian subcontinent. In Sindh he is also known as Ramlo Pir; lo with Rama is an expletive rhythmic Sindhi suffix (Boivin 1998b: 28), and Pir, a Persian derivative to denote a saintly figure. Apart from these names, he is also venerated as Baba Ramdev and Ram Shah, probably referring more towards Muslim appellations such as Baba and Shah. It is not far away that at Runicha-Ramdeora, where the main shrine of this saint is located in Pokran, Rajasthan, in India, some Muslim votaries suspect him to be a Muslim saint; whose dargah, later on taken away by the Hindus, was transformed into a temple (Khan 1997: 64).

Present hagiographical accounts depict Ramdev as a Kshatriya Rajput deity-saint and an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu-Krishna; who miraculously appeared in a cradle where his elder brother Viramdev was sleeping. His father Maharaja Ajmalji (King of Pokran) secured him through a sacred boon conferred by the Lord Krishna. The child was held in awe as he used to perform miracles since an early age. As the legend goes, he killed a demon called Bhero, who used to slaughter and eat the people of that area.

Khan suspects that the present form of the tradition is a transformed version due to many reasons and now turned merely into a ‘bhakti cult’ and a pilgrimage center in Rajasthan; which is a heterogeneous tradition from ‘mainstream Hinduism’ (1997: 62). However, she classifies Ramdev Pir as a guru or a spiritual leader of the ‘cult’ rather than the founder of the ‘sect’; and possibly connected with the Nizari Ismaili dawa: a highly organized proselytizing campaign of the Ismailis to propagate Islam that recognizes the right of authority of the Imams as their sole guide3 (Khan 1997: 60-96). The Ismailis are one of the important facets of Islam related to Shiite ideologies. An alleged Ismaili Pir called Pir Shams was actually responsible for initiating this tradition by proselytizing a lineage of Tanwar Rajput in which Ramdev Pir was an important figure, as the devotional hymns related to Meghwars, the traditional followers of Ramdev, have shown (Khan 1997: 68, 82-82) (Mallison). Ramdev, as a result, happened to be an alleged ‘forgotten’ saint of the Ismailis, who went back to ‘Hinduism’ later on; since Ismaili dawa perhaps could not be able to hold its vigor on the propagating reigns.

It seems that the tradition related to Ramdev Pir in Sindh is a recent phenomenon, not before the twentieth century if we are to consider Aitken’s (1986: 182) remarks on the worship of Ramdev Pir (Bawani 2006: 27). Before Aitken (1986) we are unable to trace any source informing us about this deity-saint. However, according to a popular legend, the tradition of Rama Pir in Sindh starts with his journey towards a place called Umerkot; a desert area of Tharparkar in Sindh, situated in modern day Pakistan. It is believed that he visited this place for his wedding with a Sodha princesses called Netal Devi; Sodhas are a famous tribe that ruled Umerkot around the twelfth century (Chanuriya 2005: 91-102). Historical sources do not conjure up any event like this, though they show strong martial relations between the ruling tribes of Sindh and Rajasthan (Allana 1995: 68) (Butt 2003: 94).

Currently, for the Hindus in Sindh, who are mostly the so called ‘untouchables’, the temple of Rama Pir in Tando Allahyar is one of the third largest pilgrimage centers. It is situated in the midst of the main bazaar near the railway station of Tando Allayar, approximately 20 kilometers from Hyderabad in Sindh, Pakistan. Every year at the time of the annual fair held in the first week of September, this sacred space attracts thousands of devotees who pay homage and visit in fulfillment of their vows. For the votaries, Rama Pir is a savior deity; who also cures every kind of ailment if called upon from the heart. For the staunch bhakt or devotee he is said to appear mysteriously when his followers are faced with a terrible situation.

He has been worshipped as a hero-saint and for the ‘low caste’ Hindu communities as a caste demolisher. More particularly so, due to the suppression of the upper caste Hindu and Muslim feudal, borne by the low caste which forms a considerable number of peasantry and field labour force in various parts of Sindh.

Iconography and Symbolic Expressions

The first impression of the figure of Ramdev is an idol installed in the mandir of Tando Allahyar, which appears more like a Muslim saint riding a white horse. Popular iconography presents him with his beard and mustache like that of a Sufi with a two-sided conical banner in his hand. Traditionally, idol worship is strictly prohibited. It may possibly be related to the nirgun principle: a concept of immaculate god in Indic tradition; or perceived as a Muslim concept of unity of ‘being’. It is however, in recent times that the popular icon of Ramdev Pir has been introduced in Sindh. Before, as some of the devotees suggest, it was only a lamp that was regularly kept burning inside the main areas of the worship.

One of the important symbols related to the tradition of Rama Pir in Sindh is the constantly maintained oil lamp inside the mandir. It is believed that the temple situated in Tando Allahyar was erected when an upper caste Khatri, after the fulfillment of his vow for a child, took this lamp from Runicha; where the main center of pilgrimage of Ramdev Pir is located. Lamps have been kept in all major shrines of the Sufis in Sindh as a sacred object. One is also kept in the shrine of Uderolal already discussed. Moreover, light itself is a popular element in various sacred traditions.

One will feel amazed to observe the building of the temple, which is again close to a structure of a shrine than a temple. Usually, temples of the Hindus have cone-shaped roofs with many of the icons and carved images installed on the walls and on the pillars. However, at the mandir of Rama Pir, arches or mehrabs can be observed from the front view of the temple. Mehrab is thought to be a common characteristic associated with the structural designs of the sacred spaces of the Muslims. Moreover, the use of Hala and ceramic tiles has given this sacred site a traditional Sindhi feel.

Another prominent symbol of the tradition is the foot-print (qadam) and the banner (dhaja). The foot-print is generally painted or woven in the speared-flag mostly accompanied with a crescent and a star. This flag or banner has been carried by the devotees in atonement of a vow. In the context of the Indic tradition, this foot-mark is supposed to be of the Alakh, the formless god of the Jogis (ascetics) or it belonged to Vishnu (The Nirgun Lord), (Khan 1997: 106-107). A similar foot-mark is also common among the Muslims, for instance, the sacred qadam sharif or qadam rasul can be found in Jerusalem that has been ascribed to the prophet of Islam, Muhammad (pbuh); whereas, an impression of his cousin’s foot namely Ali, the first Imam of the Shias, can be observed in the sanctuary dedicated to him near Hyderabad Deccan in India (Schimmel 1994: 3). Moreover, related to the speared-banner is the main alam or banner installed in front of the temple. It has been raised in veneration of Rama Pir at the time of the annual festival where all the devotees take part in the sacred flag ceremony. In the Shiite tradition, one may find a similar vocabulary of alam and a flag with palm and fingers on the top, referring to the numeral five for the Panjetan Paak: the five key figures among the Shias namely, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Hazrat Ali, Bibi Fatima, Imam Hasan and Imam Husain.

An Approach towards Rethinking Iconographic Models and Symbolic Expressions in Sindh: A Case of the Tradition of Rama Pir

The decisive principal thought behind the above discussion has continually focused: interaction between ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Islam’ on different levels; from sharing symbolic expressions to charismatic figures. Experts have tried to understand this phenomenon through different approaches and many theories had been proposed for the same. For instance, this interaction has recently been understood anew by the concept of ‘liminality’4 by Dominique Sila-Khan (2004) in the context of South Asia. The word ‘liminal’ emanates from ‘limen’ – Latin in origin – to mean a ‘boundary’ or a ‘threshold’. However, in the context of South Asia, she has used this concept to articulate the state of shared religious practices among the Hindus and Muslims; for example, rituals, formulas, literature, legends and even religious figures…a state of ‘religious identity’ that is ‘in-between’ and is difficult to draw a margin on to call something or someone a ‘Hindu’ or a ‘Muslim’. With this remark, we can argue the approach in which iconographies and symbol system has been interpreted. For example, what is the criterion that qualifies Ramdev Pir as a Muslim saint? His beard and mustache, which seems ‘Islamic’? Or does the title of Pir makes him eligible? More precisely, we may argue, if iconographic models or symbolic expressions are ‘Hindu’ or ‘Muslim’ in nature?

It will be significant to observe these ‘objects’ (signs, symbols and images) when they became ‘sacred objects’, i.e. a phenomenological approach towards them. In other words, these signs, symbols and images are more ‘cultural’ than ‘religious’. For example, the symbol of the foot-print associated with the tradition of Ramdev Pir and the Muslims is first a natural object, a stone. The use of stone is as ancient as human societies for conveying abstract meanings. Stones have been taken as signs of power and sometimes as eternal strength, perhaps due to the hardness and perpetuity (Schimmel 1994: 1). Moreover, in the Indus Valley, stones are prominent objects of worship related to the mother goddess in the form of rings (Jairazbhoy 1994: 9). The famous practice of worshipping lingum, an important symbol in the Shivaite tradition, is also associated with the stone (Jairazbhoy 1994: 12-13).

Similarly, flags or banners are supposed to be the developed form of rod or wand – which is again a symbol that is derived from the tree – widely used to satisfy superstitions and magical practices in primitive societies. Besides, it has also been thought to increases human power and used as a sign of guidance (Schimmel 1994: 29-30). However, a Peepal tree (ficus religiosa) has been a sacred object depicted in a seal found in the excavations conducted in Mohenjodaro, Sindh. The mother goddess can be seen sitting in its shade (Jairazbhoy 1994: 8). In Sindh, a Sufi master called Pir Jhandewaro (Pir of the flag’) has also been named after the flag (Schimmel 1994: 30).

The same can be said for the architectural design of the sacred spaces that are so-called ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’. Both derive their architectural heritage from neighboring cultures and civilizations. For instance, architecture associated with the Muslim societies is mostly influenced by the Christians, like the Copts or Mozarabs, Jews or the Armenians; who sometimes acted as material and cultural contact agents between Muslims and themselves, by means of commerce (Irwin 1997: 214). Similarly, temple structures in Indic traditions evolved out of the Stupas5, known in India since the first century BC, but possibly were more ancient than the suggested era of their identification. The Stupas were designed to be ‘seen as the image of the cosmos’, again symbolizes a universal phenomenon of encompassing transcendent ‘reality’ through a corporeal object.

We may now conclude that ‘objects’ remain the same but the ‘vision’ or creative imagination have made them abstract and appropriate for the respective ‘religions’, or sacred traditions which are at the core of every religion. And, every religion or sacred tradition internalizes the eternal ‘existential quest’ of human beings; personal search for some questions that transcends reason: to whom I belong? Who is the creator of this universe and how it works? They become ‘meaningful’ through various religious visions by materialization of the same through cultural items. Since, ‘…vision is implicit in culture’ but it is encapsulated into social and cultural practices; similarly, symbolic expressions and images are encoded values of the religious visions, more or less common in every human culture but they vary in their meanings.

Courtesy: http://www.nuktaartmag.com/Nukta/GeneralContent/View/110

End of the River?

Of the two largest Southasian deltas, one flourishes as the other faces the threat of being overrun by the sea.

by Amar Guriro

At a time when melting glaciers, shrinking coastal lands, depleting freshwater sources and vanishing forests are hot issues across the world, the tidal mangrove forests of the Sundarban constitute an encouraging example of effective conservation. Spread over 10,000 sq km in India and Bangladesh, with some 60 percent falling in the latter, the Sundarban, part of the Ganges delta, the world’s largest, takes in the endpoints of the mighty Ganga, Meghna and Brahmaputra rivers. A fusion zone of fresh- and saltwater, constituting a complex network of tidal waterways, vast scattered mudflats and hundreds of small islands filled with salt-tolerant mangroves, and home to a dizzying array of plants and animals, the Sundarban was recognised as a World Heritage Site in 1987.

Continue reading End of the River?