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Saturday, 28 March 2009

Mela Charaghan (Festival of Lights) in Lahore: Life and Poetry of Madhu Lal Hussain

Madhu Lal Hussain said,
"Be never engaged at all
in arguments so long
but ponder over your end
so says Hussain Faqir."

http://www.wichaar.com/tpllib/img.php?im=cat_163/3447.jpg&w=200&h=293

Mela Chiraghan or Mela Shalamar ("Festival of Lights") is a three day annual festival to mark the urs (death anniversary) of the Punjabi Sufi poet and saint Shah Hussain. It takes place at the shrine of Shah Hussain in Baghbanpura, on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, adjacent to the Shalimar Gardens. The festival used to take place in the Shalimar Gardens also, until President Ayub Khan ordered against it in 1958. The festival used to be the largest festival in the Punjab, but now comes second to Basant.

Poetry / Kafis of Shah Hussain

Hussain’s poetry consists entirely of short poems known as "Kafis", usually 4 to ten lines, designed for musical compositions, to be interpreted by the singing voices. The rhythm and the refrain are so balanced as to bring about a varying, evolving musical pattern... folk songs that draw on the emotional experience of the community.... record the reactions to the cycle of birth and the play of desire against the rhythms of hope , despair, exultation and nostalgia.

Today most of these Kafis are sung, by well know singers and some have even been used as songs in the Indian Film Industry.

All translations are from Najam Hosain’s book quoted below.

Life’s Journey - limits & boundaries

Main wi janan dhok Ranjhan di, naal mare koi challey
Pairan paindi, mintan kardi, jaanan tan peya ukkaley
Neen wi dhoonghi, tilla purana, sheehan ney pattan malley
Ranjhan yaar tabeeb sadhendha, main tan dard awalley
Kahe Husain faqeer namana, sain senhurray ghalley

Travelers, I too have to go; I have to go to the solitary hut of Ranjha. Is there any one who will go with me? I have begged many to accompany me and now I set out alone. Travelers, is there no one who could go with me?

The River is deep and the shaky bridge creaks as people step on it. And the ferry is a known haunt of tigers. Will no one go with me to the lonely hut of Ranjha?

During long nights I have been tortured by my raw wounds. I have heard he in his lonely hut knows the sure remedy. Will no one come with me, travelers?

On separation

Sujjen bin raatan hoiyan wadyan
Ranjha jogi, main jogiani, kamli kar kar sadian
Maas jhurey jhur pinjer hoyya, karkan lagiyan hadiyan
Main ayani niyoonh ki janan, birhoon tannawan gadiyan
Kahe Husain faqeer sain da, larr tairay main lagiyaan

Nights swell and merge into each other as I stand a wait for him.
Since the day Ranjha became jogi, I have scarcely been my old self and people every where call me crazy. My young flesh crept into creases leaving my young bones a creaking skeleton. I was too young to know the ways of love; and now as the nights swell and merge into each other, I play host to that unkind guest - separation.

Female freedom

Ni Mai menoon Kherian di gal naa aakh
Ranjhan mera, main Ranjhan di, Kherian noon koori jhak
Lok janey Heer kamli hoi, Heeray da wer chak

Do not talk of the Kheras* to me,

Oh mother do not .
I belong to Ranjha and he belongs to me.
And the Kheras dream idle dreams.
Let the people say, "Heer is crazy; she has given her-self to the cowherd." He alone knows what it all means.
O mother, he alone knows.
Please mother, do not talk to me of Kheras.

*The Kheras were a wealthy family.





Mai ni main kinon akhan
Dard vichoray da haal ni

Dhuan dhukhay mere murshad wala
Jaan pholan taan laal ni

Jungle belle phiran dhondendi
Ajay na payo lal ni

Dukhan di roti, solan da salan
Aahen da balan baal ni

Kahay hussain faqeer nimana
Shoh milay tan thewan nihal ni

Mai ni main kinon akhan
Dard vichoray da haal ni

Kafian Shah Hussain http://www.apnaorg.com/poetry/shah/shfront.html

MAI NEE MEIN KINNO AKHAAN, Hamid Ali Bela




Rabba mere haal da mehran tu - Abida Perveen






Picture Gallery

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/170/436247493_4954b60859.jpg?v=0


Mela Chiraghan is one of the most cultural events in the city when
Darvesh come from all over the country and join the three days celebrations. Their ash covered faces, colorful dresses and expressions attract a lot of people.

Darvesh at shrine of Madhu Lal
Originally uploaded by Max Loxton

Mouth Watering Andarassas , Mela Charaghan, Lahore

Qatlamma قتلمہ Mela Charaghan, Lahore



















http://gallery.photo.net/photo/4273378-lg.jpghttp://www.chowk.com/viewg/973

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Pakistani Muslim devotees gather around the fire at the shrine of Muslim Sufi Saint Madhu Lal Hussain in Lahore on March 29, 2008 on the saint's409 death anniversary. The three-day annual festival of Hazrat Madhu Lal Hussain started at his shrine with full devotion on 29 March. The festival celebrations were also famous for the Mela Charaghan in which a large number of people from all over the country participate.

http://photos.mg.co.za/original/0.19157300%201174760803.jpg

Devotee: A Muslim celebrates at the shrine of Saint Shah Hussain during the first day of the annual religious festival in Lahore on Saturday. The three day festival of the prominent Sufi poet and spiritual leader Madhu Lal began at the shrine on Saturday. Arif Ali, AFP




I just watched a More 4 documentary (A Jihad for Love - heartbreaking stuff) and briefly it covered the story Shah Hussain, the sufi poet saint, and Madho Lal his Brahmin male lover. Apparently their love story is renowned and celebrated annually by followers of the Sufi religious branch. Did any of you know about this/ hear about this before? Their tombs lie side by side and their names have even been merged when referring to just Shah Hussain, Madho Lal Hussain i believe.

Dhamal at the urus of Madhu Lal Hussain (R.A) Lahore

Biography of Shah Husayn (Madhu Lal)

Shah Husayan (1538-1599) is commonly known as Madhu Lal Hussain, the story being that he adopted his Hindu friend Madhu Lal's name to immortalise their friendship. He was around during the time of the Mughal emperors Akbar and Jehangir. Though of a poor family, Hussain was highly educated.

His poetry is full of symbolism. Some of his most famous kafis feature the Charkha, as in those days foreign merchants used to sell cotton to Lahore, which the poor later weaved into cloth.

Hadrat Shah Lal Husayn of Lahore, a disciple of Bahlul Shah Daryai. His mother was a Rajput woman of the Dhadha tribe, and his paternal ancestors were known as Kalsarai. Thus Lal Husayn's own name was originally Dhadha Husayn Kalsarai. The first of his ancestors to accept Islam was a man named, Kalsarai who became a Muslim during the reign of Firoz Shah Tughlag, and was appointed by him to be Shaykhul-Islam. The family name, Kalsarai, dates from that time. Lal Husayn showed, even as a child, a marked preference for clothes of saffron and red colour, hence the epithet Lal added to his name. Very early in life it became clear that he possessed a religious disposition, and while still only ten years' old he was initiated into the Qadiri Order by Bahlul Shah Daryai.

For twenty-six years he strictly followed the rites and practices of Islam, and led a life of real austerity. But on reaching the age of thirty-six, it is said that while studying a commentary on the Quran under a certain Shaykh Sa 'du'llah in Lahore, he came one day to the verse; "The life of this world is nothing but a game and sport." (vi. 32). He asked his master to explain this to him, but when the usual meaning was given he refused to accept it, saying that the words must taken literally, and that henceforth he himself would pass his life in sport and dancing. This incident proves to be a turning point in his career and from that time he sought to express in life the extraordinary views he held.

In consequence he abruptly left the madras and went about shouting and dancing in public. He never returned to his student life and religious practices. One of his first acts on leaving his studies was to throw his book. Maddrik, a commentary on the Quran, into a well. His fellow-students, grieved at the loss of so valuable a work began to chide him, whereupon he turned and addressed the well as follows: ""O water, return my book, for my friends are anxious to have it;" on saying this he drew it out unsoiled.

He now gave himself up to the life of a libertine and spent so much of his time in drinking, dancing and music that he became, in the language of the Sufi malamati, blameworthy. It is said that his pir Bahlul Shah Daryai. hearing of the change in his disciple came to see him and, strange to relate, in spite of the freedom from restraint which he himself witnessed in Husayn's manner of life he expressed himself satisfisfied with the hidden sanctity of his disciple, and thereupon confirmed him in his position as his vicegerent in` Lahore.

Hassu Teli, famous as the saint of oilmen, was a contemporary of Lal Husayn. He kept a shop at Chawk Jhhanda near the Mori gate. At first he used to sell corn but later at the direction of his Pir, Shah Jamal ((whose tomb is in Ichhra) he started selling oil.

Lal Husayn, who was in the habit of visiting the tomb of Data Ganj Bakhsh, would stop on his way at the shop and spend some time in dancing and shouting. One day Hassu Teli teasing him said, O, Husayn, why this dancing and shouting? You have no cause for such ecstasy, for I have never seen you in the court of the Prophet." But on the following day, when Muhamad held his court in the spirit world, with all the prophets and saints in attendance including Hassu Tell as one of the representatives of the living saints on earth, a child appeared who first went to the lap of the Prophet, and was then passed from one to the other, finally coming to Hassu Teli. While playing on the latter's knee he plucked out some hairs from his beard. When next Husayn stopped at the oilman's shop Hassu repeated his taunt that the man was not worthy of being admitted into the Prophet's court. For reply Lal Uusayn quietly produced the hairs which he had plucked from Hussu's beard! The oilman was at first thrown into great consternation, but recovering his equilibrium retorted after a moment's silence: "So it was you, was it ? Ah well, it was as a child that you got the better of me!"

Lal Husayn's name is popularly associated with that of another person called Madhu, and in fact, the two are so constantly thought of together that the saint commonly goes by the name of Madhu Lal Husayn as though the master and this disciple of his were one person. Madhu was a young Hindu boy, a Brahmin by caste, to whom Lal Husayn was, one day, irresistibly attracted as he saw him pass by. So strong indeed was the fascination he felt for the boy, that he would rise in the middle of the night and, going to his house, would walk round it. In time Madhu himself felt the attraction of Lal Husayn and, coming under the spell of his fervent love, began to frequent his house, and even joined him in drinking wine. Such intimate connection between a Hindu boy and a Muslim faqir of questionable character very soon become the talk of the place. Madhu's parents feeling it to be a disgrace to their family tried their utmost to dissuade the boy from going to Lal Husayn, but in vain.

So far Madhu, though the bosom friend of Lal Husayn, had not yet renounced Hinduism. It was, we a told, a miracle wrought by LAl Husayn that finally led him and his parents to the conviction of the truth of Islam. The story goes that once when Madhu's parents were going to Hardwar to perform the bathing ceremony they desired to take their son with them. Lal Husayn however, would not let him go, though he promised to send him later. When the parents had reached Hardwar Lal Husayn made Madhu shut his eyes and then, after striking his feet upon the ground, to open them again , Madhu did as he was told and was greatly astonished on looking round to find himself in Hardwar! His surprise was shared by his parents, who marveled at his arrival from such a distance within so short a space of time. Impressed by this miracle, Madhu and his parents on their return to Lahore accepted Islam at the hands of Lal Husayn.

The latter died in 1599 A. D. at the age of 63 and Madhu who survived him for forty-eight years was buried in a tomb next to that of his pir, in Baghanpura, in Lahore. The shrine containing their tombs continues even to this day to attract dense crowds of people of classes. The urs used formerly to be celebrated on 22nd Jamdi 'th-thani, i. e. the anniversary of Lal Husayn's death; but later, in order to avoid any inconvenience through the date for the celebration falling in the heat of summer, it was agreed to make the festival coincide with the advent of spring so now the 14th Baisakh and the last Sunday in March are the recognized dates for its celebration.

Lal Husayn had sixteen Khalifas, four of them were called Khaki, four Gharib, four Diwan, and four Bilawal. After his death four of them, viz. Khaki Shdh, Shdh Gharib, Diwan Madhu, and Shah Bilawal took up their abode at his shrine, and were eventually buried within its precincts.

http://www.abntv.com/festivals/mela_charagan.html

Documentary on Madhoo Lal Hussain



..

SHAH HUSAIN
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.

It may be asserted that poetry is often written to be sung. And all poetry carries, through manipulation of sound effects, some suggestion of music. Where then lies the point in noticing the music in the "Kafis" of Shah Husain? Precisely in this: Husain s music is deliberate - not in the sense that it is induced by verbal trickery but in the sense that it is the central factor in the poet s meaning.

The music that we have here is not the vague suggestion of melodiousness one commonly associates with the adjective "lyrical : it is the symbolic utterance of a living social tradition. The "Kafis" draw for their musical pattern on the Punjabi folk songs. The Punjabi folk songs embody and recall the emotional experience of the community. They record the reactions to the cycle of birth, blossoming, decay and death. They observe the play of human desire against the backdrop of this cycle, symbolizing through their rhythms the rhythms of despair and exultation, nostalgia and hope, questioning and faith. These songs comprehend the three dimensions of time - looking back into past and ahead into future and relating the present to both. Also, these songs record the individual s awareness of the various social institutions and affiliations and clinging to them at the same time - asserting his own separate identity and also seeking harmony with what is socially established.

Through this deliberate rhythmic design, Shah Husain evokes the symbolic music of the Punjabi folk songs. His "Kafis" live within this symbolic background and use it for evolving their own meaning.

By calling into life the voice of the folk-singer, Husain involves his listeners into the age-old tension which individual emotions have borne it its conflicts with the unchanging realities of Time and Society. But then, suddenly one is aware of a change. One hears another different voice also. It is the voice of Husain himself, apparently humanized with the voice of the folk-singer, and yet transcending it. The voice of the folk-singer has for ages protested against the bondage of the actual, but its fleeting sallies into the freedom of the possible have always been a torturing illusion. The voice of the folk-singer is dragged back to its bondage almost willingly, because it is aware of the illusory nature of its freedom and is reluctant run after a shade, fearing the complete loss of its identity. The voice of Shah Husain is transcending folk-singer s voice brings into being the dimension of freedom - rendering actual what had for long remained only possible:

Ni Mai menoon Kherian di gal naa aakh
Ranjhan mera, main Ranjhan di, Kherian noon koori jhak
Lok janey Heer kamli hoi, Heeray da wer chak

Do not talk of the Kheras to me,
O mother, do not.
I belong to Ranjha and he belongs to me.
And the Kheras dream idle dreams.
Let the people say, "Heer is crazy; she has given her-self to the cowherd." He alone knows what it all means.
O mother, he alone knows.
Please mother, do not talk to me of Kheras.

At first , the little "Kafi" deftly suggests the underlying folk-song patter. The usual figures in the marriage song - the girls, the mother, the perspective husband and the perspective in-laws are all there. And the refrain calls the plaintive marriage-song address of the girl to he mother on the eve of her departure from the parents house.

But the folk-song pattern remains at the level of an underlying suggestion. The mother and the daughter in the folk-song were both helpless votaries of an accepted convention, bowing before the acknowledged power of an unchanging order. Here in the "Kafi" the daughter assumes the power of choice and rejection. She stands outsides the cycles of time and society. The mother continues to represent the social order and the accepted attitudes according to her convictions, the Kheras offer the best possible future for her daughter because they assure mundane security and prestige, within a decaying order. But the daughter I snow determined to go beyond this order and seek further inner development. To her the Kheras, her unacceptable in-laws, represent the tyranny of the actual forced on the individual. To her, Ranjha, the socially condemned cowherd, represents the consummation of her revolt, promising a union which is the real inner fulfillment. The accepted attitudes are based on a superficial vision,

which takes appearance to be the only reality. Ranjha, who always hides his real self behind the shabby garb of a jogi or a cowherd can never be understood and can never be preferred to the wealthy Kheras. His real identity is a mystery that can be realized only in Heer s individual emotions. And for such a realization, a conscious break with the order of appearances is a prerequisite. Husain s triumph is achieved, not by evading the bondage s of the actual but by suffering them and finally transforming them. The mother remains a part of the daughter s consciousness - in addressing her she addresses herself. But this part of her consciousness is now subjected to more vital individual self. In the refrain:

Ni Mai menon Kherian di gal naa aakh

there is a tone of confidence - a mixture of earnest protestation and assured abandon.

Here is a "Kafi" presenting a different emotion:

Sujjen bin raatan hoiyan wadyan
Ranjha jogi, main jogiani, kamli kar kar sadian
Mass jhurey jhur pinjer hoyya, karken lagiyan hadyan
Main ayani niyoonh ki janan, birhoon tannawan gadiyan
Kahe Husain faqeer sain da, larr tairay main lagiyaan

Nights swell and merge into each other as I stand a wait for him.
Since the day Ranjha became jogi, I have scarcely been my old self and people every where call me crazy. My young flesh crept into creases leaving my young bones a creaking skeleton. I was too young to know the ways of love; and now as the nights swell and merge into each other, I play host to that unkind guest - separation.

The slower tempo of the refrain sets the mood of the "Kafi." The voice of the singer stretches in an ecstasy of suffering along the lengthening vowel sounds. The vowel sounds initiated by the refrain are taken up by rhythms and several other words.

The Heer-Ranjha motif is used here in a different emotional background. The intense loneliness here contrasts sharply with the confidence of fulfillment shown in the earlier "Kafi." Here people s preoccupation with appearances is not treated with indifference;

Ranjha jogi, main jogiani, kamli kar kar sadian

instead it adds to the plain. But in the notes of suffering, there is a strange quality of single-mindedness. One is not aware of any fidgety second thoughts. The plain does not evince any desperation: in fact there is an air of contemplative pose, born out of the awesome finality of commitment.

In another "Kafi" using the Heer-Ranjha motif, we are taken back to a still earlier stage of the poet s emotional Odyssey:

Main wi janan dhok Ranjhan di, naal mare koi challey
Pairan paindi, mintan kardi, janaan tan peya ukkaley
Neen wi dhoonghi, tilla purana, sheehan ney pattan malley
Ranjhan yaar tabeeb sadhendha, main tan dard awalley
Kahe Husain faqeer namana, sain senhurray ghalley

Travelers, I too have to go; I have to go to the solitary hut of Ranjha. Is there any one who will go with me? I have begged many to accompany me and now I set out alone. Travelers, is there no one who could go with me?

The River is deep and the shaky bridge creaks as people step on it. And the ferry is a known haunt of tigers. Will no one go with me to the lonely hut of Ranjha?

During long nights I have been tortured by my raw wounds. I have heard he in his lonely hut knows the sure remedy. Will no one come with me, travelers? <

The folk-song locale is present here in the shape of a river, a ferry and a batch of travelers. The travelers gather to set off to remote places for business, duty and other reasons. And there is the self conscious girl who comes daily to hear some chance gossip drop a word about her friend. The river for centuries has flowed between desire and fulfillment. No one knows where it goes; it has no beginning and no end. The river is ancient and unfathomable - holding mysterious dangers. It causes both life and death but shows a fascinating indifference that compels awed men and women to kneel and worship the river. There is another reason for this homage. The river bounds the village. It limits and defines the known and tried capacities of humanity. The girl s father has no possessions beyond the river. What she was born with lies placidly marked this side of the river. What is beyond, is vaguely threatening. But this hazardous unknown fascinates the girl and seeks to lure her out of the complacent peace she was born with.

But the girl in the "Kafi" differs from the girl in the folk-song in one vital respect. The girl in the folk-song has for ages, waited on this side of the river. She visits the ferry and moves among the travelers with questioning looks. But in her words and looks there lurks the knowledge of perpetual impossibility, the acknowledge that desire is never more than a wish is often less than it. The girl in the "Kafi" is prepared to bridge the gap between desire and attainment. She too is aware of the hazards of her ways but for her he imperative need to set out has become the supreme fact.

The image of a patient, desperately looking for a last remedy contains subtle implications. When Heer fakes illness in the house of her in-laws, Ranjha the fake jogi was approached for some magic cure. Heer was cured in a way the people did not foresee and her illness turned out to be of an unexpected nature. Those believing in appearances as the only reality were given a dramatic lesson. Here in the "Kafi", the metaphorical background is recreated. The girl earnestly wishes to align herself with ordinary motives and measures. But the uncommon purpose of her journey and the uncommon destination still stand out among the group of travelers. Her request for some one to accompany her only throws into stranger relief her unique loneliness.

The ecstatic rhythm brings to the refrain a tone of finality, a finality comparable to that of death. The journey across the river is a transition as radical as death. The two worlds of experience are as different from each other as the familiar life and the unknown beyond. (1959)

...

Sufis - Wisdom against Violence

by Salman Saeed

Madho Lal Shah Hussain [1538 - 1599]


The story goes that Madho Lal [a Hindu Brahmin] and Shah Hussain [a Muslim Sufi] were great friends and to immortalise the friendship between the two, Shah Hussain decided to call himself Madho Lal Hussain.

Outside the walls of the Shalamar Gardens in Lahore, there is held an annual festival at the time of Spring harvest called "Mela Chiraghan" or the Festival of Lights, close to the grave of Lal Hussain. In the songs of the village minstrels and the dancers' movements, the myth of Lal Hussain once again is reborn. Grandson of a convert weaver, Lal Hussain embarrassed everyone by aspiring to the privilege of learning.

...

A Victim of Apathy

Shafqat Tanvir Mirza

The News, March 29, 2005

LAHORE has two festivals, Basant and Mela Chiraghan, which are cultural and secular in nature.

Mela Chiraghan or the Urs of Madho Lal Husain has long been thrown out of the Shalamar Gardens and the streets which lead to the mazar of the sufi poet have been encroached upon, courtesy the Qabza group.

Mela Chiraghan is closely associated with peasants, and the Mughals, the Sikhs and the British administrations used to observe their festival officially. During the Sikh period, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh used to lead the procession from the Lahore Fort to the mazar.

After the annexation of the province by the British, the festival was announced open to the peasantry from all over Punjab. It was then that the festival was given the name of Mela Shalamar or Mela Chiraghan. Before that it was simply known as the Urs of Madho Lal Husain - a name representing both Muslims and non-Muslims. Ranjeet Singh paid much respect to the sufi poet and saint.

After independence the festival continued as it was designed during the Raj. It used to be the biggest festival of Punjab on which doors of the Shalamar were flung open to the public. But the centre of the festival, Shah Husain, was lost as a poet. There was a time when Shah Husain's poetry was used to train young classical singers. Among the last generation of such singers was Inayat Bai Derowali.

This tradition was also lost till much later when it was revived by singers like Hamid Ali Bela.

He made Husain's verses popular under the banner of the Majlis Shah Husain, formed in 1964.

Husain thereafter has been remembered as a poet.

The Majlis conducted research on the text of Shah Husain's works, got it translated into English and published Haqeeqatul. Fuqara, biography of Shah Husain in Persian. It arranged national seminars, mushairas, book exhibitions and concerts at the Urs. The three-day celebrations were attended by Bengali, Sindhi, Pushto and Urdu writers besides Punjabi writers and poets.

The Majlis also prepared a project for building a Shah Husain cultural centre, but the One-Unit provincial government was not in a mood to honour this 16th century Punjabi poet.

Shah Husain was the pioneer of the kafi. His poetry had influenced the great Sindhi poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, on whose Urs the Sindh government declares a holiday. The original manuscript of Bhitai's work also included kafis of Shah Husain. It was this genre which was further developed by Bulleh Shah and Khwaja Farid. Shah Husain's language, images and symbols were frequently used by later kafi writers.

The most striking feature of the language used by Shah Husain was its representation of all dialects spoken in Punjab and adjoining areas. The standard dialect thus united all subdialects.

Kartar Singh Duggal, a prominent writer, says: "Shah Husain wrote in impeccable central Punjab idiom and can claim to be one of those writers who have brought mediaeval Punjabi closest to modern usage." In the light of the comment offered by Duggal, Shah Husain's language can serve as a role model for all books to be written and taught in Punjab. A resolution to this effect is scheduled to be tabled in the Punjab Assembly on April 7.

Another Sikh scholar, Dr Mohan Singh Diwana, who had compiled the verses of Shah Husain in the Persian scrip in the early 1940s, writes in his History of Punjabi Literature, (1932): 'The religious love song found its sweetest singer in Shah Husain whose 60 or so scattered kafis in various manuscripts ... are perfect little gems in their simplicity, music, eternal and changeless love vocabulary, and their elemental passion and saintly spontaneity. Written about 350 years ago, they are as easily intelligible today as then and their lyrical charm has the same glister and perfume as it ever had.' Though Mohan Singh calls these kafis "religious love songs", the Punjab government under bureaucratic influence of the culture ministry has refused to acknowledge the anniversary of the non-conformist poet. Not a single function. has been arranged by any state-run educational or cultural institution. Even the newly-established Punjab Institute of Language, Arts and Culture, headed by a bureaucrat-cum-kafi writer has shown no interest. It is worth noting that the institute in the recent past arranged a function in Multan to pay homage to Khwaja Farid.

The unfortunate aspect of this affair is that the government has not so far considered it proper to arrange visits of foreign cultural delegates to the mazar of this 16th century poet and saint.

Shah Husain continues to be a victim of apathy on the part of the World Punjabi Congress, the Pakistan Punjabi Adabi Board and the Academy of Letters. In the sufi poet's own words: Maaen ni mein kinnun aakhan.

....

Hamid Akhtar, Express, 28 March 2009

1 comment:

Fawad Ahmed said...

i compleletly agree with above said arguments and i believe that nobody will take action to refom that festival ever again in his true essence however ive posted my blog with a hope that someday n sombody who will be in a position to do will take care

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