Punjab Research Group

In the name of Punjabiyyat

Posted in Articles, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on February 15, 2015

In the name of Punjabiyyat by Mahmood Awan, TNS

In terms of Punjabi nationality, the literature produced by Punjabis is a multi-linguistic phenomenon; be it in Punjabi, English or any other language. Some of these writers may not identify themselves as Punjabis and this sensibility may be only reflected in their writings.

When Gujranwala born, British Pakistani novelist Nadeem Aslam quotes couplets of a rather unknown rural Punjabi Poet Abid Tamimi in his novel Maps for lost lovers (2004), he is subconsciously establishing his native connectivity. He furthers this theme in his latest novel The Blind Man’s Garden (2013) by creating a whole fictional town named Heer (inspired by Waris Shah’s legend) and proudly claims that  all his future novels will be set in this Punjabi town.

When Los Angeles born, Pakistani American Daniyal Mueenuddin’s book of short stories In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (2009) opens with a Punjabi proverb in Punjabi text, he is presumably asserting his Punjabi identity. More so, when one of his short story protagonists on watching a chestnut seller boy in the freezing cold of Paris pulls his American girlfriend closer and whispers: “He is one of mine, from Pakistan, from Punjab.”

Mulk Raj Anand (1905-2004) was our first global offering. Recipient of the prestigious Lenin Peace Prize, he was co-founder of the Progressive Writers’ Movement in the undivided India. He was born in Peshawar to a Sikh mother from Sialkot and a Hindu father from Amritsar. He studied philosophy at Cambridge University where he had gone on the behest of Allama Iqbal and received his PhD from University College London in 1929. He was close friends with George Orwell, TS Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Herbert Read and EM Forster. His best-known novel Untouchable (1935) was issued as a Penguin Modern Classic in 1986.

Anand saw himself as a Punjabi citizen of the world. Khushwant Singh once remarked on Anand’s English as ‘Punjabi English’. In his 1982 interview with Amarjit Chandan, he termed his sense of Punjabiyat as inheritance of Punjabi culture. In response to a question regarding why he opted to write in an acquired language and in which language he thinks, Anand said: “Punjabi is my mother tongue. I frequently use Punjabi vibrations. Vibrations of the characters of my landscape, my region could only express themselves in the versatile movements of the Punjabi speech. I could not perform an operation on my mother’s mouth to make her speak like an English woman, as do other writers. I think in Punjabi mostly and transliterate or transcreate in English. At that time [pre-partition] there were no publishers and the books written about India, certainly by me, were banned and there was no way by which even one could express oneself in Punjabi to the people who were around us in the Indian national movement. Even Puran Singh started writing in English first. He was the writer of the Punjab in English language before me if you like.”…

Any writer is free to write in any foreign language for global reach, acceptability and other related gains. However, it’s also true that in that global space they generally remain ‘categorised’ and ‘compartmentalised’ while their original place always remains vacant in the literary countryside of their mother tongues. It will also be pertinent to mention that no linguistic movement should encourage racists, bigots and chauvinists as there is nothing more sacred than humanity. We strongly believe that within one mother tongue are all mother tongues and each one of them is universal. Our main concern is not those other languages but the contagious ‘self-hate’ virus inherited by most of the ‘well educated’ Punjabis and its bankrupt elite that has consistently demeaned the linguistic uprising and their own cultural identity.

Read full article: http://tns.thenews.com.pk/in-the-name-of-punjabiyyat/#.VOBaHXYtKHl

The feminine metaphor by Mahmood Awan

Posted in Articles, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on February 4, 2015

Mahmood Awan January 25, 2015

Recounting the women poets of the undivided Punjab, a poetic history that lies buried under male monopoly

Punjabi poetics is unique in adopting the feminine metaphor. From our classics to contemporary poets, the most intimate and challenging verses resonate in this naturalised voice. Female protagonists of our Qissa (epics) poets from Damodar Das to Ghulam Haider Mastana are not only self-assuring and assertive but are full of defiance against male authority and a martialised society.

Najm Hosain Syed summed up this power of choice and rejection assumed by women in a striking one liner: “She stands outsides the cycles of time and society”.

Punjab owes all the beauties and colours of its folklore exclusively to its womenfolk. This was the art that kept us enriched and sustained us through centuries of compressions, invasions and annexations. Those nameless women poets of the Punjab narrated our collective consciousness and protected our native identity.

Read full article: http://tns.thenews.com.pk/poetry-the-feminine-metaphor/#.VNJTM3YtKHk

SGPC to set up ‘censor board’ for films, books on Sikhs

Posted in Articles by Pippa on February 4, 2015

Jan 26, 2015

CHANDIGARH: Films and books on Sikh religion may soon have to pass the test of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC), which is planning to set up a ‘censor board’ for “moral policing” of the scripts.

The move comes against the backdrop of the controversy surrounding Dera Sacha Sauda chief’s movie ‘MSG’ and many Bollywood movies in which actors have donned the turban like Ajay Devgn starrer ‘Son of Sardar’ and Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Singh is King’.

“We will soon set up Sikh Censor Board comprising historians and intelligentsia so that someone keen to make any film or write a book concerning Sikh religion first gets the script cleared to avoid consequences later,” Amritsar-based SGPC head Avtar Singh Makkar told this agency.

Terming it as “moral policing” on part of SGPC, Makkar said the board members will clear the script of films or books based on Sikh religion and community members.

“Our idea is that Sikh religion is projected and exhibited in public domain in consonance with the spirit of code of conduct of the community,” he said.

Please read the rest of the article: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/SGPC-to-set-up-censor-board-for-films-books-on-Sikhs/articleshow/46018615.cms

Read attached PDF: SGPC Censor-TOI-1 Feb 2015

New Paper on Social Democracy in India by Ronki Ram

Posted in Articles, Conferences, News/Information by gsjandu on November 17, 2014

Jagtar Singh Dhesi Annual Lecture 2014

As part of this annual lecture, a revised 2013 paper, CASTE, NEO-LIBERAL ECONOMIC REFORMS AND THE DECLINE OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY IN INDIA has been sent in for circulation. The paper reports on the at times inchoate and at other times ancient relationship between wealth generation, distribution and the hierarchical societal dichotomy of India’s democracy. Ram reflects contemporaneously on the asymmetrical relationship between the copycat “buzzword” of “economic liberalisation” in the circles of academic social sciences and the more predictable failure of this corpus to ignite change in not just political sociology but also I would suggest local and national governance ideology. As Ram concludes, “It seems that market and caste have joined hands to pose a most serious challenge to the nascent institution of social democracy in India.” (pp. 25)

 

Below is an excerpt outlining the paper.

“This paper is divided into four parts. The first critically examines the institution of social democracy in India while distinguishing it from that of social democracy in Europe. In the second, complex but intricate relationships among caste, poverty and neo-liberal market economy are delineated at some length. This part is based on a premise that neo-liberal market economy in India does not only deepens poverty but also strengthen the asymmetrical structures of caste, which in turn entrench the already existing social exclusion in the society. Part third deals with the phenomenon of social democracy as articulated by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and the ways it facilitated downtrodden to improve their living conditions. How the institution of free market economy scuttles the essence of nascent institution of social democracy in India and the new challenges it throws on the socially excluded sections of the society are also discussed at length. The fourth part draws on heavily on the implications of the neo-liberal economic reforms for the emancipatory project of social democracy in India and the birth of new contradictions that it gave rise to the disadvantage of Dalits.” (pp.4)

The full text can be found here, pol1-13 Ronki Ram.

 

First publication source, Punjab Journal of Politics, Amritsar Vol. XXXVII, Nos. 1-2, 2013

 

G.S Jandu

London

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GRFDT interview with Shinder Thandi

Posted in Articles by Pippa on November 1, 2014

Given the heterogeneous nature of the Punjabi diaspora, one size fits all policies will not do, it has to be multi-pronged.

Diasporas can make a contribution in terms of fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, enable technology and knowledge transfer, as well as transferring other intangible assets, says Prof. Shinder S. Thandi of Coventry University in an interview with Dr. Sadananda Sahoo, Editor, Roots and Routes.

Please view the interview online at: http://www.grfdt.com/InterviewDetails.aspx?TabId=2038

 

 

Who Killed Jugni? Shiraz Hassan

Posted in Articles by Pippa on September 19, 2014

It was many summers ago. I was visiting my village on the banks of the Jhelum. I saw the people of my village go towards the Eidgah, across the chappaD, or the pond. When I asked my grandfather about them, he said. “Ajj mela ay putter!” [Son, today is a fair!] The mela ground was bustling with makeshift shops and people thronging them. At one end of the mela a circus had come up. The mithai stalls were packed with customers and curious on-lookers, some of them were buying and eating. And that’s when I heard the sound of their music. There they were, surrounded by a circle of spectators. A couple of local artists sang a song I had not heard before. I couldn’t understand a word, other than ‘O mereya Jugni, O mereya Jugni’ – which they chorused, over and over again.

That was my introduction to Jugni. I had no idea who Jugni was, and for I long time I didn’t care.

Jugni returned to my life years later, making an entry in a different way. On a satellite TV channel, in a dimly lit studio, equipped heavily with musical instruments and a pungent smell of glamour. Arif Lohar was singing Jugni for Coke Studio and giving him company was Meesha Shafi!

This time, I wanted to know Jugni. Was it a character from a story? A glow-worm? Or something else?

‘Jugni’ is a Punjabi folk song, popular not only in the Punjab but also among the regional languages of Rajputana, Sindh and Hyderabad [1]. But Jugni has also been said to be a kind of jewel, an attractive ornament worn around the neck, a little like the ‘taweetri’. Worn alike by men and women, Jugni the ornament is usually made of gold or silver. The wooden jugni is also used as decorative jewellery for cows and buffaloes. This cow-Jugni is known as ‘gaani’. Along with other neck jewellery like necklaces, lockets, maalas, gaani, taweet or tweetri, Jugni is a hot favorite item of fashion among rural girls and boys.

Read full article: http://kafila.org/2011/05/07/who-killed-jugni-shiraz-hassan/

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Mother and Daughter: Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Posted in Articles, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on September 19, 2014

In memory of Alys Faiz by Andrew Whitehead

15 September 2014

Alys George was born a century ago this month. She was better known as Alys Faiz – she married the renowned Pakistani poet, journalist and activist, Faiz Ahmed Faiz. I met and interviewed her twice at her home in Lahore in the 1990s – and I am posting the audio of those interviews on this blog with the blessing of her daughter, the artist Salima Hashmi.

Alys was the daughter of a bookseller in the London district of Walthamstow. In the 1930s in London, she became politically active eventually joining the Communist Party, and got to know Indian nationalists and leftists in London. In 1939, she travelled to Amritsar to visit her sister Christobel, who married Dr M.D. Taseer, a noted Marxist thinker and educationalist. Two years later, Alys and Faiz married at Pari Mahal in Srinagar – with the nikah conducted by Sheikh Abdullah.

When I interviewed her in Lahore in October 1995, Alys reminisced at length about becoming involved in the British Communist movement (‘I wanted to go to Spain but my parents said no’), getting to know Indian activists, coming out to Punjab and spending time in Kashmir. She recalled the tragic, cathartic violence which accompanied Partition, and spoke of her husband’s ranguished poetic reflection on the manner in which India and Pakistan gained independence, ‘Freedom’s Dawn’.

See Andrew Whitehead’s website to listen to the interviews: http://www.andrewwhitehead.net/blog/in-memory-of-alys-faiz

 

‘Perhaps some day I might end up as a poet after all’ By Salima Hashmi

7 March 2013

The daughter of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the Subcontinent’s iconic bard, discovers letters exchanged by her mother and father.

Since being Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s daughter has given me privileged access to the family archives, I have become an accidental archivist. In 2009 I embarked upon the Faiz Ghar project to set up a small museum in a house leased to us by a friend and admirer of my father. We commenced sorting through Faiz’s belongings, papers and books. It was not a massive collection by any means, owing to his nomadic, rather Spartan, but interesting life, that began on 13 February 1911 and ended on 20 November 1984. My mother Alys was instrumental in saving and sorting what little there was: a smart grey lounge suit, a cap, his scarf, his pen, and a reasonably large cache of letters, certificates and medals.

After my mother’s death in 2003 all these things had been packed away in cartons in my house, waiting for just the sort of opportunity that the Faiz Ghar project afforded. Sifting through the papers, I came across a plastic bag containing some scraps. On closer look, I deciphered Faiz’s writing, and the unmistakable stamp of the censor from the Hyderabad Jail, where Faiz spent part of his imprisonment between 1951 and 1955 for his role in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy – a Soviet-backed coup attempt against Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. These few letters were in poor shape, but readable. It is surprising that they have survived at all. Alys and Faiz had moved to Beirut in 1978. On return, all seemed to be in order in the house – except the cupboard, which had been attacked by termites. That cupboard contained Faiz’s letters from jail, which were later preserved with the help of Asma Ibrahim, transcribed by Kyla Pasha, and published in 2011 under the title Two Loves.

See Himal South Asia for full article: http://himalmag.com/perhaps-day-might-end-poet/

A Qissa for a Globalised by Kavita Bhanot

Posted in Articles, Film by Pippa on August 19, 2014

QissaA Qissa for a Globalised World August 17, 2014

[Following is a guest post by Kavita Bhanot. She is a London based writer. Her short stories and non-fiction have been published widely in anthologies, magazines and journals, two of her stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and she is the editor of the short story collection Too Asian, Not Asian Enough (Tindal Street Press, 2011.) ]

There has, of late, been a revival of Punjabi cinema directed towards and watched by Punjabi audiences. A recent addition to Punjabi language cinema, albeit less ‘commercial’ and more ‘artistic’ is the Punjabi language film Qissa: Tale of a Lonely Ghost which has been doing the rounds at international film festivals and was screened last week at the London Indian Film Festival.

The film is about the violent consequences of son obsession in a Sikh refugee family in post-partition East Punjab.Visually striking, Qissa stands out for its cinematography; the framing, the use of shadows and light, the unusual angles. It was often absorbing, most of all in the scenes between actresses Tillotama Shome and Rasika Dugal, playing the couple Kanwar Singh and Neeli who find themselves in a predicament after marriage when they both discover that Kawar is actually a woman. Their interactions quiver with layered tension and chemistry.

Ultimately, however, the film doesn’t quite come together, it seems to lack internal coherence. I found myself watching it with a sense of unease, it didn’t carry me through, and when, in the post film discussion, the director spoke about the qissa tradition, connecting his film to this ‘genre,’ my discomfort increased.

Encompassed in the title, in the main heading (Qissa) and the subheading (The Tale of the Lonely Ghost), are two very different conceptions of storytelling, the film seems to hover between both of these, but falls ultimately, in the framework of the latter.

The Qissa is a storytelling tradition that is woven into the lives, culture of Punjabis. Qissas have been retold, reinterpreted in each era, often through music – the Sufi versions of these stories that are most well-known. Rooted in time and place – it is through particularity, detail, a connection with everyday life that qissas speak to the people of the region. Waris Shah weaves into Heer, perhaps the most popular qissa, painstaking, almost sociological detail about the customs, practices, beliefs, social, economic and political structures of the time. Qissas often portray, through love stories, the defiance and rebellion of ordinary people, exploring the radical potential of love and sexuality, as lovers and their accomplices defy the conventions, religion, ‘morality’ of an oppressive society. Qissas, in this way, critique social, political institutions, challenging power at all levels. While the lovers in Sufi qissas simultaneously symbolise the relationship between devotee and pir or guru, it is through the details, the emotion and earthiness of lived life that they become metaphors, that they become universal. Sufis understood that this was the way to connect with people.

Read full article: http://www.chapatimystery.com/archives/potpurri/a_qissa_for_a_globalised_world.html

Punjabi Research and Criticism by Dr Nasir Rana

Posted in Articles, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on August 19, 2014

 

This paper was written by Dr. Nasir Rana who teaches Punjabi at the Government M.A.O. College, Lahore.

PUNJABI RESEARCH AND CRITICISM: A Brief Study

Just like other languages of the world, Punjabi literature also started with poetry. Punjabi poetry is very old and some of its earliest poets were Charpat Nath (840 A.D.-940 A.D.), Gorakh Nath (940-1031), Pooran Bhagat (970-1070) and Shah Shams Sabzvari (1165-1276). However, Baba Farid (1175 A.D.-1265 A.D.) is regarded as the first regular poet of Punjabi, born at Kothaywal near Multan. He travelled widely in search of knowledge and after getting spiritual training from Khaja Bakhtiar Kaki in Delhi, he finally settled in Pak Patan. His poetry has been preserved in the form of Shaloks. Afterwards, Ameer Khusru (1253-1325), Shah Miranji (1400-1496), Burhanuddin Janam (1586) and Guru Nanak (1469-1534) spread the message of the Oneness of God in Punjab through their poetry. Later on, Ibrahim Farid Sani (1450-1575), Damudar Das (sixteenth century), Shah Husayn (1539-1599) and Nosha Ganj Bakhsh (1452-1554) made their contributions to Punjabi poetry and literature. Shah Husayn introduced the genre of Kafi in Punjabi, while Sultan Bahu (1632-1692) laid the foundation of another genre called Se-harfi. From Baba Farid to Guru Nanak and all the other poets expressed mystical views in their poetry. In the subsequent period, Bullhay Shah, Ali Haidar, Khaja Fareed and Ameer Baloch continued the same tradition.

Punjabi literature was formally started with the inspiring poetry of Baba Farid. Later, Guru Nanak composed his poetry on similar lines and used it as a vehicle for the spiritual improvement of the people. However, the Punjabi religious literature began when (during the reigns of Jehangir and Shah Jahan); Maulvi Abdullah Abdi wrote his twelve religious pamphlets known as Bara Anvaa. These twelve religious pamphlets are: Tohfa, Nas-o-faraez, Muamlat, Uloom, Marfat-e-Ilahi, Khabirul-Aashiqeen Kalan, Khabirul-Aashiqeen Khurd, Siraji (meeras), Hisarul-Iman, Sekal Avval, Sekal Dom and Tohfa-e-Jadeed.

Besides mystical themes, romantic and amorous affairs were also discussed by some other poets. Damudar Das is the first Punjabi Romantic poet who for the first time wrote the romantic story of Heer Ranjha during the reign of Akbar. Afterwards, the same story was written by Ahmad Kavi, Charagh Awan, Pilu, Hafiz Shah Jahan Muaqbal, Waris Shah, Hamid Shah Abbasi, Fazal Shah, Bhagwan Sing, Imam Bakhsh, Maula Bakhsh Kushta and several other poets. The story of Mirza Saheban was for the first time written by Pilu. Later, Hafiz Barkhurdar Ranjha and Muhammad Yar Aleel also wrote on the same subject. Barkhurdar also wrote the stories of Sassi Punnu and Yusuf Zulaikha. Fazal Shah acquired fame by writing the story of Sohni Mahinwal while the story of Sassi Punnu written by Hashim became famous everywhere. Maulvi Lutf Ali Bahawalpuri, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh and Makhdoom Muhammad Bakhsh wrote the story of Saiful-Mulook. Imam Bakhsh wrote Badi-ul-Jamal and Shah Behram, etc. In the same way, Munshi Khahish Ali wrote Sohna Zeni and several other stories and thus made genuine contribution to enrich Punjabi poetic literature, further.

To read the full article please visit: http://www.apnaorg.com/research-papers/nasir-rana-1/

 

British Empire and WW1

Posted in Articles, Events, News/Information by Pippa on August 5, 2014

ceramic-poppies-fill-the-tower-of-london-moat-to-commemorate

The art installation, called ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, features 888,246 ceramic poppies – one for every British and Commonwealth soldier who died during the conflict.

The poppies have been laid throughout the summer by creator Paul Cummins and a team of volunteers. Further pictures: http://www.demotix.com/news/5441679/ceramic-poppies-fill-tower-london-moat-commemorate-wwi#media-5441668

The Hindu published ‘A European war, fought by India by Shashank Joshi.

If World War I resonates in such a weak, confused, and even negative way with Europeans, it is little wonder that young Africans or Indians see even smaller stakes in this year’s centenary ceremonies. This is why it is crucial to understand the war’s global scope and the role played by the British Empire and Commonwealth.

Read full article: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/a-european-war-fought-by-india/article6281135.ece?homepage=true

The News on Sunday ‘From the war front’ by Mahmood Awan

An account of the Punjabi soldiers who became the cannon fodder of the colonising power in World War I, and the mournful songs and literature this episode in history generated in its wake.

Read full article: http://tns.thenews.com.pk/punjabi-soldiers-on-the-war-front/#.U-CbG0gpOHl

‘Empire, Faith & War: The Sikhs and World War One’

The exhibition will be held at the Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental & African Studies’ (SOAS), Russell Square, from 9 July to 28 September, and is the launch event of a three year project to reveal the untold story of how one of the world’s smallest communities played a disproportionately large role in the ‘war to end all wars’.

What Indian soldiers in the First World War wrote home about by David Omissi

To commemorate the centenary of India’s service in the First World War, the British historian David Omissi collected the letters of Indian soldiers away from home in Indian Voices of the Great War, published this year by Penguin. These eloquent letters offer a poignant glimpse into the lives of these Indian soldiers, whom history forgot.

Read full article: http://www.caravanmagazine.in/vantage/what-indian-soldiers-first-world-war-wrote-home-about

Special Issue of South Asian Diaspora: Imagining Punjab and the Punjabi Diaspora

Posted in Academic Journals, Articles, Migration, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on July 30, 2014

South Asian Diaspora Volume 6, Issue 2, 2014

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rsad20/6/2#.U9jNzKgpOHl

 

Introduction

Imagining Punjab and the Punjabi diaspora: after more than a century of Punjabi migration

Anjali Gera Roy

Articles:

  • ‘The heart, stomach and backbone of Pakistan’: Lahore in novels by Bapsi Sidhwa and Mohsin Hamid Claire Chambers
  • Culture shock on Southall Broadway: re-thinking ‘second-generation’ return through ‘geographies of Punjabiness’ Kaveri Qureshi
  • Punjabiyat and the music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Virinder S. Kalra
  • Tracing Sufi influence in the works of contemporary Siraiki Poet, Riffat Abbas Nukhbah Taj Langah
  • Exiled in its own land: Diasporification of Punjabi in Punjab Abbas Zaidi
  • (Dis)honourable paradigms: a critical reading of Provoked, Shame and Daughters of Shame Shweta Kushal & Evangeline Manickam

ROAD TO MANDALAY – SIKHS IN BURMA by Swarn Singh Kahlon

Posted in Articles, Diaspora, Migration by Pippa on July 30, 2014

Based on Travels of Swarn Singh Kahlon, December, 2011

Article appeared in The Sikh Review, Kolkata, February, 2014 issue.

 

THE ROMANCE OF BURMA

There are two romantic poems about Burma;

ONE by Rudyard Kipling (1889-90),

where he tries to relive on return to London his travels in Burma:

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea,

There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;

For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the Temple-bells they say:

“Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!”

 

AND THE SECOND

By the exiled Mughal King, Bahadur Shah Zafar who immortalised his death in Burma (1862) through the epitaph he wrote on the wall with a burnt stick:

Kitna hai badnaseeb Zafar, dafan ke liye

do gaz zamin na mili ku e yaar mein”

 

This was also the period when Sikhs started to migrate to Burma; a country now renamed ‘Myanmar’. The Sikh migration to Burma was an important component of global Sikh migration and remained a popular destination for about six decades.

Many Sikhs have their relatives and friends who still talk about the Burma days even if they have returned permanently since long back. A visit was very tempting especially as my wife’s mother was born and grew up in that country. Whenever my mother-in-law and her sisters had some confidences to share they would shift to speaking Burmese even after their return three decades ago.

Read full article: Road to Mandalay

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