‘This Thanksgiving…’ by Fauzia Rafique

"A Hymn of Thanksgiving" sheet music cover - November 26, 1899. From Wikipedia.

“A Hymn of Thanksgiving” sheet music cover – November 26, 1899. From Wikipedia.

Discover me
like Columbus
discovered America

Disregard and overlook
my brand new citizenship card,
esl abilities, my bridging
capabilities. There still are
some Indians (and many
Pakistanis) in me– spoiling
for education, assimilation,
in short, civilization.

Discover me
like Columbus
discovered America

Ignore or obliterate
my multicultured clothes,
urban unriches, my
discomforting art. There still is
a writer (even when
brown) in me– needing
cliches, creative writing courses,
in short, author-ization.

Discover me
like Columbus
discovered America

Exorcise and enslave
my mind, that independent
wave dashing beyond your glitter, an
uncontrolled tongue. There still is
a rebel (even if
feminine) in me– requiring
guidance, tall historic lies,
in short, indoctrination.

Discover me
like Columbus
discovered America
..

From
https://gandholi.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/this-thanksgiving-by-fauzia-rafique/

Like Fauzia’s FB page
https://www.facebook.com/fauzia.r

Contact Fauzia
frafique@gmail.com
.
.

‘New Genres Needed In Punjabi’ by Roop Dhillon

Punjabi Literature has a strong tradition of Sufi poetry and free thought. Over the years many literary movements have been established especially by the progressive writers. However that was almost a century ago, and in many ways the literary landscape seems to have stagnated in Realism and never moved on. This is certainly the case in Eastern Punjab. I cannot speak with any conviction about Western Punjab.

Eastern Punjab has hit a malaise where it refuses to leave the confines of realism and the literary novel, almost to the point where it considers other forms as cheap vulgar entertainment. But in this hypercomputer age this perspective is in danger of making its literary oeuvre unappealing to the modern reader and thus losing the few readers of Punjabi that exist.

In fiction and types of fiction, Punjabi lags behind the rest of the continent let alone the world. Many people are confused for example by my sci-fi stories, thinking them to be a strange thing. In fact this genre has been around for centuries in the west and even for at least 100 years in languages such as Bengali and Japanese. I have labelled this genre Vachitarvaad and definitely encourage Punjabis to try their hand at it. Other genres I see missing from Punjabi appear to be Magic Realism, Crime Fiction and Feminist Fiction. I think it is about time we writing in Punjabi catch up and give our readers more choice, and a whole spectrum of fiction so that it can compete with Cinema, TV and Computers; all modern things that may pose a threat to the habit of reading.

I also think that to achieve this, writers both from Lahnda and Charhda Punjab need to help one another. One way could be through agreeing which of the two scripts is better placed for usage or perhaps print books in both Shahmukhi and Gurmukhi. Another way, especially for Punjabi writers who live abroad, is to set up an independent publishing house or imprint that caters for Punjabi only (maybe aimed at those who live here in the west), and circumnavigates the vile practice of charging the author which exists in our native countries. All these are thoughts and ideas and it would be great to see what people think.

Over the coming weeks, I am likely to post in further detail what I know and think about these topics.

Vachitarvaad is one area I hope Punjabi writers will explore, and also other genres that may or may not have been mentioned here.

Contact Roop
rupinderpal@btinternet.com
.
.

Published in: on November 21, 2014 at 4:06 pm  Comments Off  
Tags:

Roop Dhillon – Author

Welcome Roop Dhillon
as Author/Contributor
at Uddari Weblog!

roop-dhillon

UK Punjabi writer Roop Dhillon has joined Uddari Weblog as an Author/Contributor. He has published three novels from UK titled ‘Neela Noor’, ‘Bharind’ and ‘Samurai’. Talking about why he decided to learn Punjabi and write in it, he says:

‘This particularly occurred because Professor Khushwant Singh commented that Punjabi was a weak language with insufficient words to describe things. This annoyed me, and I went on a mission to create new words to describe my modern urban environment. This led me to write my first Punjabi novel, Neela Noor, written as a western style novel with anglicized Punjabi grammar reflecting my peers’ use of the language. It is the first Punjabi novel published in the UK; and, it is also significant in that it is secular, set in Pakistan, India and Europe’.

He is passionate about Punjabi, literature, story writing, and most of all– pushing some of those boundaries. 

View Roop’s intro here:
ROOP DHILLON

Review of his novel Bharind

Contact Roop at:
rupinderpal@btinternet.com
.

Mahmood Awan – Author

Welcome Mahmood Awan
as Author/Contributor
at Uddari Weblog!

m-awan

Mahmood Awan is a Poet, Essayist and Translator. His published works include Raat Samundar Khed (Let’s Play with the Night Sea; 2002) and Veeni Likhia Din (A Day etched on her wrist; 2012).

Veeni Likhia Din received Masud Khaddarposh Award for the best Poetry book of the year 2012, Baba Guru Nanak Award (2012) and MehkaaN Adbi Award (2012).

Born in 1977 in Padhrar (Khushab; Pakistan), Mahmood is an Electrical Engineer who has been involved with the Punjabi language and literary movement since his student days at Engineering University Lahore [1995-2000]. He moved to Dublin (Ireland) in 2007 due to his professional commitments and lives there with his family.

He also writes for Pakistan’s leading English daily ‘The News’ about Punjabi Themes, Identity and Literature. His Author page at The News can be accessed at:
http://tns.thenews.com.pk/writers/mahmood-awan/

His books can be read online at apnaorg.com at the following links
http://www.apnaorg.com/books/shahmukhi/veenee-likhya-din/book.php?fldr=book
http://www.apnaorg.com/books/shahmukhi/raat-samundar-khade/book.php?fldr=book

Mahmood can be reached at:
mahmoodah@gmail.com
.
.

Irfan Malik: A Unique Voice

“Even the language felt dangerous in my mouth” poeticised Stephen Dunn while talking about the wildness of southern Spain. He lamented that he had been riding too long in cars and wished to buy a horse. He loved smell the of oranges and olive oil and the noise of men torn between church and sex. The women captivated him, beautiful, full of public joy with a cross hanging around their necks. He then sells his motorbike and starts a journey to find a quieter place in the crowded world. The same quieter place where he may have found Irfan Malik sitting next to him.

After an equally enthralling experience of a different kind than Dunn, Irfan wrote in his poem Daal-Darr (The Fear): “This very moment our union is so raw and absolute, that it has rendered our presence obsolete. A primeval terror, I fear I may say something in this language of words, shattering the spell.”

Irfan Malik is a poet, short story writer, translator, theatre actor and director. He was born in the old Lahore, the historical walled city. After founding a literary organisation Naya Uffaq (New Horizon) with his fellow comrades in late 1970s and spending his early life as a political and social activist, he moved to Sweden in 1984. He studied Indology in Stockholm University, became a member of the Swedish Writers Association and translated Swedish Poets in Punjabi and short fiction in Urdu.

A decade later he migrated to America. He now works at Harvard University where he also studied acting and direction and is actively involved with SAATH (South Asian American Theatre, Boston) as its Artistic Director. He has published five books, directed and acted in half a dozen plays and is currently busy with his upcoming book of Punjabi Poetry Dooji Aurat(The Other Woman) that is due early next year. His Punjabi poetry collections published so far include Wich Jagratay Sutti Tahngh (In Sleeplessness Sleeps Longing; 1992), Akath(Untold, 1998) and Noon Ghunna (The Silent “N”; 2000). He has also published Punjabi translations of Swedish Poet Gosta Friberg titled Wadhda Hoya Ghaira (An Ever Expanding Circle; 2002) and Ghonghay (Fossils; 1993) that includes Urdu translations of nine Swedish short stories.

Irfan wrote poems in Swedish, English and Urdu but it was Punjabi that opened her arms to his silence, sadness, alienation and aesthetics. He is a poet of languagelessness who thrives while composing silence of the language.

Irfan is a postmodern cosmopolitan poet who claims: “I am not a Punjabi poet but a poet who writes in Punjabi.” He wrote poems in Swedish, English and Urdu but it was Punjabi that opened her arms to his silence, sadness, alienation and aesthetics. He is a poet of languagelessness who thrives while composing silence of the language. Language is his most favoured thematic concern and entirely on this single subject he developed his second book of Poetry Akath(Untold) where he wrote: “All we have are syllables and words but not the language”. It seems, the more the language let him float freer the more betrayed he feels. He believes it’s the poet who betrays the poem and not the other way round: “There is not a single part of a poem which is not a poem, it’s the poet who is inadequate” (Akath; 1998).

In another poem from this series he writes “She, a poem, which could be written by me, is still following me, she wants to unwrite herself, in my words.” Irfan’s poetic philosophy is well summarised in his statement that appeared in a Swedish poetry anthology Poet’s Stage(1991) where he wrote: “Where runs the poetic line between thinking and writing? Hasn’t writing removed me from the poet I really am? To write poetry is to get lost and not being able to find your way back. It is so lonely..so bloody lonely in the wilderness of poetry.”irfanMalik

Every outstanding writer has a grand narrative and Irfan too has one that lies hidden in the treatment of thematic complexities and comprehension of the available lingual space. All his poetry is in free verse that carries its own indigenous lyricism. It’s not lyrical in the traditional metric conventions but the whole charm lies in the inherent contrasting expressions, contemporary vocabulary and poetic sensibility.

He invokes a paradox, plays with contrasts in as fewer lines as possible and relishes this grand spectacle of wonder and brevity. This one liner poem Par Khol Maira SauN Nu Jee Ay (Butterfly: Open your wings, I want to sleep) is from his first book. He has boldly and inventively compiled those forbidden pleasures that were seldom touched in the West Punjabi poetry. He defamiliarises and deconstructs his metaphors and creates dramaturgical twists and turns while keeping the whole poem accessible. His poetry is sensuous, rich and intense.

Here’s the most-celebrated poem from his first book: “Kal raateeN jad main dair naal/ Ohday gharoN aya/ Tay apnay hathãN nu/ Ohday hathãN wich ai bhul aya/ Fajray da Pindday wich ik ajeeb jahi baychaini nay / Phawa keeta ay/ Hath honday taaN/ Cigrat laa kay / Do chaar bharwaiN sah ai khichda” (Last night very late, I left her house, and forgot my hands, in her hands. Since morning I’ve felt a strange tightness in my body, if I had my hands, I’d light a cigarette, and take some deep drags).

He is a born experimentalist. He wrote “Se-Harfi” (33-aplhabet Farsi script Acrostic, a Punjabi Poetic genre pioneered by Sultan Bahu 1632-1692) not in traditional alphabetical order but on phonetical basis. In Akath he reversed the order of the book to justify his theme and printed table of contents and dedication note at the end of the book and not at the beginning. He even left four pages blank in his last poem Kunn conceivably to invite the reader to fill in for himself or write his own poem. He titled his free verse poems as ghazals inNoon Ghunna (2000) where he used other writer’s lines translated into Punjabi as “Free verse Maqtas”.

Irfan’s diction and thematic experimentation may feel westernised but his poetic sensibility is rooted in the Punjab, and the recent emergence of Lahore in his last two books is an indication that whatever influences there may be, he still belongs to where he should in Lahore. Seamus Heaney once said: “I live here in Dublin and Heaney lives there in the countryside and in the memory”. Irfan’s poem An ode to Mall Road (Noon Ghunna; 2000) is a Heanian expression that ends like a lament: “Boston, Cambridge, Arlington/ I am walking on these rich American Streets/ since ages/ Even if I keep on walking for many hours more/ Massachusetts Avenue will not become Mall Road yet again today.”

Most of us, the self-exiled immigrants, experience multifaceted alienations, emotional, political and social but the most brutal of these all is alienation of language. At times we feel that our mother tongue is leaving us. We face an existential threat. It’s only our rootedness in language and native connectivity on conscious and sub conscious levels that carries us through. Every new poem and every next book is a battle and as Irfan is in the process of publishing his latest book after a lapse of fourteen odd years we will see if he has survived the attack and how has he surfaced after this sustained encounter.

“Rfaan Bao” of Haveli Kabli Mal, Dabbi Bazar, Rang Mahal, Lahore, your childhood prayers for immense wealth at Shaam Shahzaday’s shrine during every lunar calendar’s eleventh night seem unanswered.

However, in return you have been blessed with the ever increasing currency of sounds, silences, words, language, life and poetry. So keep sharing your wealth and never stop this charity. Jay Kandh Da Naa Pandh Honda/ Tay Pandh da Pakha/ Pakhay Da Naa Chunni Honda/ Chunni Da Khargosh/ Kee AssiN Fir vi Inj Day Honday / Jinj Day AssiN Ajj HaaN(Akath; 1998); (If wall was called a way/ and way was fan/ if fan was shawl/ and shawl meant rabbit/ would we still be the same?). Believe me we are never the same after reading this incredible poetry so get hold of any copies of Irfan’s poetry and relish this treasure.

[Originally appeared in The News on Sunday : http://tns.thenews.com.pk/unique-voice-of-irfan-malik/#.VGPQ4fmsXgc%5D

Mahmood Awan

The author is a Dublin based Punjabi poet. He may be reached at mahmoodah@gmail.com
Published in: on November 12, 2014 at 9:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

India Bound

india_censored

Written by Randeep Singh

The film Haider was released on October 2, 2014. The film is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet to the violent backdrop of Kashmir in the mid-1990s. Among other things, Haider looks at the atrocities of the Indian army. It has become one of the most critically acclaimed films in India this year.

On October 15, 2014, the Allahabad High Court issued notices to, among others, the film’s director, director and actors to respond to a petition. The petition was filed by the Hindu Front for Justice an organization which seeks to restrain the film’s screening on the basis that it insults the sovereignty, integrity and unity of India.

How does a film like Haider endanger the “sovereignty, integrity and unity” of India? Aren’t India’s restrictions on the freedom of expression, such as national security, public order and incitement to violence,  sufficient to deal with problems that may otherwise imperil the “sovereignty, integrity and unity” of India?

The “sovereignty, integrity and unity” limitation on freedom of expression merely enables the Indian power to curb any thought or opinion it deems “anti-national.” And what is more cherished to the Indian nationalist mythology than the idea that India is a benign, secular democracy, a view questioned by Haider?

In its stamping out of ideas, thoughts or opinions, which just may have a ring or truth to them, the Indian state privileges the right of an ambiguous and undefined the “nation” over those of democracy which relies on a free flow of ideas. The result is a narrowing of the Indian mind.

If Haider is restrained from playing in Indian cinemas, the Indian state and its fascist enthusiasts will have again (as they have done before with M.F. Hussain, Deepa Mehta, Sonali Bose, Arundhati Roy, Wendy Doniger) have privileged the rights of the “nation” over those of Indians themselves.

Film Review: “Haider”

haider 1
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Kay Kay Menon, Shraddha Kapoor, Narendra Jha, Irrfan Khan
Directed by: Vishal Bhardwaj

Reviewed by Randeep Singh

This third adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedies by Vishal Bhardwaj is not a tragedy in the same way as the play from which it is adapted. The tragedy in “Hamlet” comes from the hero’s fatal flaw, his indecision whether to avenge his father’s murder and the needless deaths which result along the way. In Bhardwaj’s “Haider,” the title role (played by Shahid Kapoor) is unwavering in his determination to murder his uncle, Khurram (Kay Kay Menon), contending only with chance and circumstance. There is no fatal flaw in the character of Haider and no tragedy as such.

The tragedy in Haider is the tragedy of Kashmir, the backdrop against which this modern-day Indian adaptation is told. It’s no irony that we see elections being conducted in a land where the day’s rhythms are determined by curfews and where the call to prayer is drowned out by army loudspeakers. The tragedy is most poignantly rendered in Haider’s search for his father, one of the many “missing” fathers, sons and husbands in Kashmir. It is realized visually too through the film’s stunning cinematography, the pure snow of the valley speckled with blood, veiled by smoke, partitioned by barbed wire.

Kapoor captures Haider as a sensitive young poet in the earlier part of the film, but gives a less nuanced performance when Haider experiences episodes of madness. The stand-out performance in the film is that of Tabu as Ghazala who hauntingly portrays a woman torn by loyalty as a mother, a widow and a new wife. Kapoor and Tabu are supported by an excellent supporting cast, particularly Menon as Khurram and Narendra Jha as Haider’s father, Dr. Hilal Meer.

The film isn’t entirely stellar. The climax, while effective, almost turns comical with the transformation of three elderly gravediggers into militia men. The madness and suicide of the Ophelia-adapted character, Arshi (played by Shraddha Kapoor), is also so rushed that it never really sinks in. The tragedy though as Bhardwaj makes clear is not that of Arshi or even of Haider. In closing the film with Faiz Ahmad Faiz’ poem “Intesaab” (‘Dedication’), Bhardwaj’s “Haider” becomes a dedication to the congregation of mourning that is Kashmir, a tragedy awaiting its final curtain.

8.5/10

South Asia’s Banned Books

bannedbooksweek

To celebrate Banned Books Week (Sept 21-27), we are presenting a list of books banned by South Asian governments. Find the link to Banned Books Week web page below to view USA’s 10 Most Challenged titles of 2013.

‘Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

‘Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. There were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013, and many more go unreported.’
http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/about

Most of the following from Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_books_banned_by_governments
Some from:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2218972.stm

The Hindus: An Alternative History (2014)
Wendy Doniger, History.
Penguin Books India ‘agreed to withdraw from sale all copies of a book that takes an unorthodox view of Hinduism, and will destroy them as part of a settlement after a case was filed against the publisher.’

Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India (2011)
Joseph Lelyveld, Biography.
Banned in Gujarat for suggesting that Mahatma Gandhi had a homosexual relationship. Gujarat’s state assembly voted unanimously in favour of the ban in April 2011.

Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence (2009)
Jaswant Singh, Biography.
Temporarily banned in Gujarat, India in August 2009. The ban was overturned by the Gujarat High Court in December 2009.

Islam – A Concept of Political World Invasion (2003)
R. V. Bhasin, Political ideology.
Banned in Maharashtra, India in 2007, after its publishing on grounds that it promotes communal disharmony between Hindus and Muslims.

Shivaji – Hindu King in Islamic India (2003)
James Laine, History.
Banned in Indian state of Maharashtra in 2004 for “promoting social enmity”; ban overturned by Bombay High Court in 2007.

Wild Wind (2002)
Taslima Nasrin, Memoir.
Banned in Bangladesh for containing ‘anti-Islamic remarks’.

The True Furqan (1999)
Al Saffee and Al Mahdee, Religious text.
Import into India prohibited on the grounds of threatening national security.

My Girlhood (1999)
Taslima Nasreen, Memoir.
Banned in Bangladesh for containing ‘anti-Islamic remarks’.

Lajja (1993)
Taslima Nasreen, Novel.
Banned in Bangladesh, and in a few states of India.

Soft Target: How the Indian Intelligence Service Penetrated Canada (1989)
Zuhair Kashmeri & Brian McAndrew, Investigative journalism.
Banned in India.

The Satanic Verses (1988)
Salman Rushdie, Novel.
Banned in the following countries for alleged blasphemy against Islam: Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand.

Smash and Grab: Annexation of Sikkim (1984)
Sunanda Datta-Ray, Non-fiction.
Banned in India. Describes the process of the annexation of the Buddhist kingdom of Sikkim by the Indian government of Indira Gandhi in 1975.

Jinnah of Pakistan (1982)
Stanley Wolpert, Biography.
Banned in Pakistan for recounting Jinnah’s taste for wine and pork.

Understanding Islam through Hadis (1982)
Ram Swarup, Critique of political Islam.
Banned in India

An Area of Darkness (1964)
V. S. Naipaul, Travelogue.
Banned in India for its negative portrayal of India and its people.

Unarmed Victory (1963)
Bertrand Russell, History.
Banned in India. Contains unflattering details of the 1962 Sino-Indian War.

Nine Hours To Rama (1962)
Stanley Wolpert, Novel.
Banned in India. It exposes persons responsible for security lapses that led to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.

The Heart of India (1958)
Alexander Campbell, Fiction.
Banned by the Indian government in 1959 on grounds of being “repulsive”.

Angaray (1932)
Sajjad Zaheer, Short stories.
Banned in India in 1936 by the British government.

Rangila Rasul (1927)
Pt. Chamupati, Religious.
Banned in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
..

First annual Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature – 2014 Winners

.
First Prize of $25,000: Khali Khoohaan di Katha
Novel by Avtar Singh Billing (Gurmukhi script)
Runner Up Prize of $5,000: Kbooter, Bnairy te Galian
Short stories by Zubair Ahmed (Shahmukhi script)
Runner Up Prize of $5,000: Ik Raat da Samunder
Short stories by Jasbir Bhullar (Gurmukhi script)

Congratulations!
Avtar, Zubair and Jasbir
!
.
.

Press Release
$25,000 CDN First Prize
celebrates the rich culture and
transnational heritage of Punjabi literature

Vancouver, BC (September 22, 2014) – After receiving over 70 eligible entries from 5 countries around the world, the
winner of the $25,000 CDN Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature is Avtar Singh Billing’s novel, Khali Khoohaan di
Katha (The Story of Empty Wells).

Based in Vancouver, Canada, The Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature aims to inspire the creation of Punjabi literature
across borders, bridging Punjabi communities around the world, and promoting Punjabi literature on a global scale.
The Dhahan Prize awards $25,000 CDN annually to one “best book in fiction” published in either of the two Punjabi
scripts, Gurmukhi or Shahmukhi. Two runner-up prizes of $5,000 CDN are also awarded, with the provision that both
scripts are represented among the three winners. The Dhahan Prize is awarded by Canada India Education Society
(CIES) in partnership with the Department of Asian Studies in the Faculty of Arts at University of British Columbia
(UBC). The prize is funded by an endowment from Barj and Rita Dhahan, and family and friends.

The winners of the inaugural Dhahan Prize in Punjabi Literature are:
First Prize of $25,000: Khali Khoohaan di Katha (Novel) by Avtar Singh Billing (Gurmukhi script)
Runner Up Prize of $5,000: Ik Raat da Samunder (Short stories) by Jasbir Bhullar (Gurmukhi script)
Runner Up Prize of $5,000: Kbooter, Bnairy te Galian (Short stories) by Zubair Ahmed (Shahmukhi script)

“I feel happy and lucky to be the first author to win the prestigious, inaugural Dhahan Prize in Punjabi Literature,” said
Avtar Singh Billing, author of Khali Khoohan di Katha. “[Canada India Education Society] and the University of British
Columbia have really created history by establishing such a unique, international award for Punjabi fiction. I feel proud
that the Punjabi literary world found my sixth novel worthy of this honour.”

Punjabi literature has a long and rich literary heritage and is produced around the world. Barj S. Dhahan, co-founder of
CIES states, “Punjabi has been a Canadian language for 115 years and it is exciting that this prize is uniquely a Canadian
undertaking.”

The Prize Advisory Committee has been central to developing an independent and impartial jury of senior writers and
scholars to adjudicate the prize. Professor Anne Murphy, chair of the prize advisory committee explains, “We have three
juries: one to choose Shahmukhi books, one for Gurmukhi books, and one Central Jury that determines the winner. There is no overlap among the juries and the names of members are not disclosed until after adjudication is complete. It is crucial that we always maintain a strong and fair process.”

Visit the English version of the website here:
www.dhahanprize.com
Shahumkhi and Gurmukhi content will be added later.

Download Press Releases
English
SEPT 22 2014 Dhahan Prize Winners
Gurumukhi
September 22 2014 – Dhahan Prize Winners
Shahmukhi
September 22 2014 – Dhahan Prize Winners
.
.

‘Two Shortest Short Stories’ by Sana Janjua

Story # 1
Woman
She negotiated with every power structure till she reached the edifice of their desire. There stood her man. He touched her breasts, shook his head and said: ‘Too soft for my taste’.

Story # 2
Man
He said he had loved her all these years. So then he came, moaning, and said: ‘You are too good at it. Who taught you that, Slut?’
.
.

The Sufi Legacy in South Asia

nizamuddin

Written by Randeep Singh

On September 13, 2014, the Hari Sharma Foundation in association with a number of arts and cultural groups, presented the conference, “Spirituality, Humanity and the Marginalized: The Sufi Legacy in South Asia” and a musical concert “Songs of Waris Shah, Bulleh Shah, Kabir, Lalon Fakir and Rabindranath Tagore.”

One of the musical highlights was the husband-wife team from Bangladesh, Farida Parveen (on voice and harmonium) and Ghazi Abdul Hakim (on flute). Ghazi on the bamboo flute turned music into poetry, filling the concert hall with the colour of Bengal, taking us beyond the streams and paddy fields.

Farida Parveen sang the songs of Lalon Fakir with a gusto and a tenderness in her earthy tones. The concert also featured Enakshi Chatterjee from Calcutta who opened with songs of Tagore and Madan Gopal Singh from Delhi who sang songs of Sultan Bahu and Bulleh Shah and others.

The highlight of the conference was Dr. Nile Green (UCLA) and the ensuing discussion. Green’s presentation, “Mazaars for the Marginalized” underlined the pluralistic, cosmopolitan dimensions of Sufism, of its journey across trade routes by caravans from Khurasan eastwards to Turkey and southwards through the Khyber Pass into Hindustan.

That plural and cosmopolitan spirit, Green spoke, is heard in the tradition of Sufi poetry and music which filtered into India from Khurason. It is in words like “Auliya” (Arabic), “Pir” (Persian) and “Baba”(Turkish), epiphets for Sufi masters and in the shajars (genealogical trees) of Sufis tracing their ancestry to Samarkand or the Hejaz. Sufi shrines included Greek Christians in Turkey as they did Hindus in India.

The appeal of Sufism to the marginalized according to Green was in its creation of a space where social power was redistributed more evenly. Sufis also acted as important intermediaries between the ruler and the common man in economic, political and legal matters and Sufi institutions provided food and medical care to the poor.

The piety and inclusiveness of the Sufi was questioned during the discussion period. Sunera Thobani mentioned how the Sufi pirs themselves had vast estates and wealth, whereas Habiba Zaman pointed out how Sufi spaces often clearly excluded women. Green himself pointed out today how Sufis became kings of Libya upon that country’s independence or how those of Sufi lineage sit in parliament in Pakistan. Green also reminded us of the hierarchy within Sufi orders, no where more uncompromising than in the relationship between the murshid and the pir.

One member of the audience asked whether Sufism or “Islam-lite” was a way of making Islam more acceptable and congenial to a post-911 West. Whether it is remains a topic for further discussion. But what Green reminded us is that Sufism has always had an appeal beyond just Muslims and the shariat and the importance of its role in shaping culture, Islamic or otherwise.

‘KarmaaN Maari – The Ill Fated’ a poem by Shehnaz Parveen Sahar

An Urdu poem in English and Punjabi.
Punjabi shahmukhi
Punjabi roman
Urdu
English

photofromshenaz

.


Punjabi Shahmukhi >

.
کرماں ماری

ہنے ہنے
میں فیر
اوس محفل
توں
نس آئی آں
جتھے رفو،زاہدہ ،عرشی، ٹیبی
میرے
آل دوالے
بیٹھیاں میرے لہنگےاتّے
چمپا گوٹا لا رہئیاں نے
میرے ہتھیں
شگن دی مہندی
متھےاتے
جھومر ٹکہ
لا رہئیاں نے
بابل والے گیت وداعی
گا رہئیاں نے
ویکھو سب دیاں ونگاں ویکھو
چھنک کھنک کے
ایہہ وی سنگت پا رہئیاں نے

ایہہ سب کُج پر کاہدے لئی اے

جھلییو
تسی تے کج وی جاندیاں نئیں
اگے اگ دا
کرماں ساڑدا
لال سمندر
ٹھاٹھاں ماردا آ ڈُھکیا اے
انج کرنا تسی
مینوں اپنے نال ای لے کے ٹرجانا

ایس توں پہل۔۔۔
گیت تہاڈےاگ وچ سڑ کے
پُھٹ پُھٹ روون
چیکاں مارن

اڑیو
میری گل تاں سن لئو
کتھے چلیاں
مڑ کےویکھو
واپس آئو
سکھیونی
مینوں گل نال لائو
سن لئو اڑیو
خورے میریاں آوازاں
نوں کیوں نئیں سُن دیاں
اپنےسارے گیت نمانے لیندیاں جائو
ویکھوکسراں
میرے گل وچ بانہواں پا کے
چیکاں مار کے
رو پئے سارے

خورے مینوں کلیاں چھڈ کے
کیوں تسی ساریاں
ٹر گیئاں جے
پچھے اپنیاں آوازاں وی چھڈ گئیاں جے
اے آوازاں
میری جان دے پچھے پے گیئاں نے

گوٹے کرناں بھریاں چُنیاں دے نال
اتھرواں والیاں۔۔۔ اکھیاں نوں
کج ہوروی کنڈے مل جاندے نے
ہونٹ سدا لئی سل جاندے نے

اُتّوں تہا ڈ یاں کن من کن من آوازاں نے
ساہ لینا وی اوکھا کیتا

سنونی اڑیو
اک گل دسّو
آخر تسی اے ساریاں رل کے
اچی اچی
ہسدیاں کیوں جے؟؟؟

شہناز پروین سحر
..

.

< Punjabi, roman

KarmaaN Maari
By
Shehnaz Parveen Sahar

Hunnay hunnay
maiN fer
oss mehfil
tooN
nuss aye aaN
jithay raffo, zahida, arshi, tabby
mere
aalay dwaalay
baithiyaan mere lehngay uttay
champa gotta la rahyaaN naiN
mere hatheeN
shagn dee mehndi
mathay uttay
jhoomar tikka
la rahyaaN naiN
babul walay geet vidaee
ga rahyaN naiN
vekho sab diyaN wangaN vekho
chhanak khhanak ke
eh ve sangat pa rahyaaN naiN

eh sab kujh per kahday laye ae
jhalliyo
tusseiN te kujh ve jandiyaN nahin
aggay agg da
karmaN saarrda
laal smundar
tthatthaN marda aa Dhukeya ae
inj karna tusseiN
mainuN apnay naal ee lae ke tur jana

ais toon pehlaN
geet tuhaday agg vich surr ke
phutt phutt rowan
cheekaN maran

Arreyo
meri gal te sunn lao
kithay chaliyaN
murr ke vekho
wapas aao
sakhiyo nee
mainun gal nal lao
sunn lao arreyo
khawray meriyan awazaN
nooN kiyuN nahin sunndiyaN
apnay saaray geet nomaanay laindiyaN jao
vekho kissraN
mere gal vich baNhwaN paa ke
cheekaN maar ke
ro pai saaray

Khawray mainuN kaleyaN chudd ke
kiyuN tueeiN saariyaN
Tur gayaN je
pichhay apniyaN awazaN ve chudd gayaN je
eh awazaN
meri jan de pichay paindiaN naiN

gottay kirnaN bhariyaN chuniyaN naal
athro valiyaN…. akhiyaN nooN
kujh hor ve kanday mil janday naiN
honT sada laye sil janday naiN

Sunno nee Arriyo
ek gul dusso
akhar tusseiN eh sariyaN rul ke
uchi uchi
hudiyaN kiyuN je????
..


Urdu, original >

.

کرماں ماری

ابھی ابھی
میں پھر
اُس محفل سے اٹھ
بھاگی ہوں
جس میں
رفو، زاہدہ ،عرشی، ٹیبی
میرے
لہنگے پر چمپا گوٹا لگا رہی ہیں
میرے ہاتھوں پر مہندی
اور
میرے ماتھے
مانگ کا ٹیکہ سجا رہی ہیں
بابل کی دعائیں لیتی جا
گاتی جاتی ہیں
دیکھو
میری چوڑیاں دیکھو
ساتھ تمھارے
وہ بھی کچھ
گنگنا رہی ہیں

لیکن یہ سب
کیا ہے آخر
کیا تم کو کچھ خبر نہیں ہے
اس سے آگے
آگ کا دریا
کیسےٹھاٹھیں ماررہا ہے
مجھےیہاں سے لے جائواب
قبل اس کے
یہ گیت تمھارے
چیخیں ماریں
پھوٹ پھوٹ کر رونے لگیں سب
اور
ذرا تم رکو
بتائو
کہاں چلی ہو
کیا تم تک آوازیں میری پوہنچ رہی ہیں
سنو
میری آوازتو سن لو
مجھےبھی ساتھ میں لے کر جائو
مجھے اکیلا چھوڑ کے
ایسے
کیسے تم سب جا سکتی ہو
واپس آئو
آجائو ناں

کم از کم یہ گیت تمھارے
اپنے ساتھ ہی لیتی جائو
دیکھو یہ آوازیں میری
جاں لے لے لیں گی

تم اپنی
آوازیں چھوڑ کے چلی گئی ہو
یہ آوازیں تو
بلکل پاگل کردیتی ہیں
اور
گوٹا کرن بھرے دوپٹے سے
آنسو صاف کرو تو آنکھیں
اورسپنے
سب چھل جاتے ہیں
ہونٹ سدا کو سل جاتے ہیں
اوپر سے
تمھاری
آوازیں ہیں

سنو۔۔۔
یہ تم سب
آخراتنا
ہنستی کیوں ہو؟؟؟

شہناز پروین سحر
..

.


< English

The Ill-Fated
By
Shehnaz Parveen Sahar

Just now
again i
ran away
from the gathering
where
ruffo, zahida, arshi, tabby
are tucking silver gold decorations on
my wedding gown
hena in my hands
and
on my forehead
a tikka in the parting of my hair
‘take the prayers of your parents with you’
they are singing
look
look my bracelets
are also
humming along
with you

But what is
all this
do you not know
how a river of fire
rages on and on
in front of me
take me with you
before the time when
your songs
become screams
burst into tears
and you
just stop for a moment
say
where are you going
can you hear me
listen
hear my voice
take me with you
leaving me alone
like this
how can you go
come back here
come back

Your songs at least
take them with you
i tell you their echoes will claim
my life from me

You left
leaving behind your voices
these voices can
make anyone insane
and
with a cloth of silver gold decorations
when the tears are wiped then eyes
and dreams both
get scratched
lips get sealed forever
and on top of it
your
voices

Listen…
you all!
Why is it that you
laugh so much?

From Urdu by Fauzia Rafique
..

photo-shenaz

Shehnaz Parveen Sahar: An acclaimed poet from Pakistan.

 Photos from Sahar’s Facebook Page

.
.

Buddhist Social Philosophy

 

IMG_1098

 

Written by Randeep Singh

What does Buddhism[1] say about social matters?

In Buddhism, all things are governed by the universal law known as Dharma. In the physical world, Dharma regulates the expansion of galaxies, the flow of the seasons and of the rise and setting of the sun. In the social world, Dharma is found in the obligations and responsibilities we owe to one another as humans.

To live in accordance with Dharma socially is to live a moral life (sila) in harmony with the well-being of others. Buddhism in particular looks at the Dharma in relation to suffering and the end of suffering.

Suffering arises socially when we think we exist separately from one another. In Buddhism, nothing exists separately from anything else and there is no “self” or “essence” which divides one thing from another. The end of suffering begins when we realize that we do not exist seperately from anything or anyone but in a dynamic interdependence with everything and everyone around us. There is no “self” dividing me from my neighbour.

In so realizing, I regard my neighbour as myself. Dharma is realized by “doing good to others, avoiding harm to others.” Buddhist ethics consider how one’s words, actions and livelihood affects other people and the quality of one’s relationships with those people. Kind words, a smile, a handshake, all make a difference. Dharma is apparent through the effects of our moral actions on our lives (‘karma’) and how the cumulative effects of our action produce social relationships, networks and society.

Above all, human relationships provide support and solace in a world of suffering. The loneliness of human existence, the pain of separation, the sorrow of losing someone close to us, all are lessened through the bonds of love, friendship and brotherhood. The ideal society in Buddhist philosophy is one where each person lives in respect and with affection toward others, creating relationships in the spirit of love, compassion and joy in the happiness of others.

Footnote:

[1] I define Buddhism as the teachings of the Buddha and take them as a philosophy like the the teachings of Aristotle, Confucius or Plato, not as a religion per se.

Further Reading:

Ainslee T. Embree ed., Sources of Indian Tradition, Vol. 1: From the Beginning to 1800, Columbia University Press, New York: 1988.

Damien Keown, Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, Oxford: 2006).

 

‘Dislocutions: art and translation – Skeena’ by Fauzia Rafique

At the Surrey Art Gallery in 2011, i was happy to discuss aspects of my back and forth journey between two languages while writing Skeena. Here is an updated version of it.

frafique-jkvammen2011

Surrey Art Gallery
Dislocutions: a panel discussion on art and translation
October 15, 2011

It is a wonderful location for me to share my experience of writing a novel in two languages where striking and insightful expressions of art by Brendan Fernandes, Digital Natives, Soheila K. Esfahani, Mark Neufeld, Emilio Rojas, Tony Romano, Ming Wong and Dipna Horra are happening, and, here for this discussion we have artists Lorna Brown, Emilio Rojas and Jordan Strom. Thank you for having me.

I will read to you the very first thing that Skeena, the narrator, says to us to begin her story:
My name means different things in different languages. In Arabic, it is the ‘Spirit of Tranquility’ (Sakina), in Hebrew; the ‘Indwelling Feminine Face of Divinity’ (Shekhinah); and in the languages of Native Peoples, the ‘River of Mists’ (Skeena). At this time, I don’t favor one meaning over the other. They make a lot of sense together but if I met a people who associated this sound to a meaning that does not fit my scheme, I will have to pick and choose.

In my mind, with the delivery of its main themes, one of the ‘purposes’ of my novel Skeena was to communicate across cultures and languages. In 1991, when I began writing it in Toronto, I had been in Canada for five years and already I could feel the loss of language at different levels. I cannot say that I experienced loss of culture but I did experience the presence of barriers in seeing across cultures. Barriers were of assumptions and preconceived notions, some mine and some those of others, all coming out of the prejudiced systemic structures that rule both my worlds.

For me, there is no conflict in the fact that I simultaneously own as my homelands both Pakistan and Canada. Within it, I am a Punjabi woman of Muslim family origin from Pakistani side of South Asia who has by now lived in the East and the West Coast of Canada for twenty five years, and who considers Vancouver Lower Mainland her hometown alongwith Lahore. For me, my art must reflect and reveal my evolved identity, my physical locations, my combined cultures, and my deepest thoughts. The stories I am inspired to tell come from, and satisfy, my organic communities in both Canada and Pakistan.

The draft manuscript of Skeena, begun in Toronto in 1991 and completed here in Surrey in 2004, brought together my two languages for me when all its dialogue, about 80% of the whole, was expressed in both English and (roman) Punjabi. A realistic critical literary work of fiction, it required communicating across many cultures, the thoughts and lived realities of a young Muslim Punjabi Canadian woman. In evolving this format, there was my need to reflect/reproduce in English the feel/nuance of conversations taking place in Punjabi. It was most important to do that because dialogue is one of the major ways for the reader to get into a different culture, its stories and people; and, to form our own opinions as readers while we visit and become part of various situations in a novel.

Skeena provides a vibrant context to the lives of people living in different social and cultural environments where they may know some facts about each other but where lived experiences are so different that it is hard sometimes to communicate the meaning of words. The term ‘violence against women’, for example, may not give any clear idea to a person born and raised here in Canada about the extent of violence faced by Muslim women in Pakistan. The same term when used to illustrate the situation of women in present day Canada, may also provide misleading notions to a reader in South Asia. To me, these things cannot be told; they must be experienced. So, Skeena happens in the present, and is steeped in the culture/s of its characters.

As well, there was a desire to involve Punjabi Canadian youth, the second/third/fourth generation, by using a lay-person’s form of roman for Punjabi, similar to the written communication now carried out by Punjabis on facebook, twitter and in texting. It was also geared to overcome the Gurumukhi/Shahmukhi divide in the language, and by offering the dialogue in both Punjabi and English, I was hoping to create a story that could unobtrusively become a beautiful culture-sharing, language-learning tool.

In 2004, the first draft of the novel was complete. An engaging story that begins in Pakistan, ends in Canada; uses both English and Punjabi; and, is captivating in the projection of its themes and subject matter. I felt that the manuscript fulfilled all its purposes. But my editor felt otherwise. She said that it would be tedious for the reader to go through two languages at every dialogue, and, she said that I will be ‘ghettoizing’ my writing if I did not remove the Punjabi.

It took many months of thinking while I worked on my other two novels, to come to a point in 2005 where all Punjabi sentences were removed from English manuscript, and placed in a new file. At that point, I think, I heard an actual sigh of relief from the English manuscript as it was released from the repetitive burden of about 200 pages of Punjabi. Plus, I was overjoyed to see an 80% complete Punjabi manuscript, even when in roman. What an amazing bonus! Skeena gave me the gift of two novels when I was writing one, and my mother language gave me the third, Skeena’s Gurumukhi edition via script-conversion. But that happens a little later.

After Punjabi sentences were removed, numerous Punjabi/Urdu/Arabic/Persian words and terms remained in the 2005 manuscript because I thought the reader may like some flavour of languages without being stalled by them. I sent this manuscript to a couple of friends including one in California who went ahead to read over the phone, a couple of scenes from the second section, to a mutual friend in Pakistan who happened to be a writer, editor and publisher. Zubair Ahmad, who later edited the Punjabi ms of Skeena, was taken by the passages he heard over the phone, and invited me to come to Pakistan to translate it in Punjabi for publication. I left for Pakistan in early 2006.

Zubair Ahmad asked me an important question: which language did I use to ‘perceive/imagine’ the story. My thoughtful reply to him was ‘English’ since the novel was perceived, told and written in English. But that was half the truth because all dialogue by and among Punjabi characters was mind-developed in Punjabi, written in roman on the page, and then rendered in English.

In about six months of full time work, a Punjabi Shahmukhi manuscript was ready for publication. Daily I translated a few pages, and worked with the editor to finalize them. It was a powerful and learning experience for me in many different ways. First, the creative space that evolved between the Writer, the Editor, and the Publisher was conducive to both fine-ness and speed. The result was a satisfying manuscript that was then published by Sanjh Publications in Lahore in 2007. Second, something i never expected or knew that could happen though Zubair Ahmad had predicted it: After 1975-76 when I had adapted from English to Punjabi Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novelette ‘The Poor Folk’ for Pakistan Television, I had not had the chance to do any major work in Punjabi except for two incomplete novels and a couple of unpublished short stories. Now suddenly, during translating Skeena in Lahore, a fountain of Punjabi words and terms began to sprout in my mind, even words that I thought I never knew. With it, a whole lot of Punjabi poems began to surface. Some of them are part of my (out-of-print) chapbook ‘Passion Fruit/Tahnget Phal’ (Surrey 2011)*.

I returned to Canada in 2007, and began to work on the English manuscript referencing it with the published Punjabi version. The detail became clearer at every step. The English manuscript became freer of all kinds of weaknesses in expression, content and style. In Lahore, as I was converting dialogue from lay-roman to Shahmukhi script, and translating narrative from English to Punjabi, I had felt that all the remaining weaknesses/gaps, the things i call the ‘lies’ of a manuscript, in concept, style, structure or expression, were revealed to me (i remember wondering if it’ll at all be ‘practical’ to run this same ‘test of translation’ on my other two English novels). I found that it’s really hard to translate an unfamiliar action or concept from one language to another, and even harder to translate an unclear one. I have examples of both.

In the first section that takes place in a village in Pakistani Punjab, a character makes a common (in Punjab) gesture of seeking forgiveness from Allah where certain fingertips are placed on the tongue and then on the lower ear tips with the word ‘tauba’ meaning ‘forgiveness’. It took many agonizing attempts before I could come to this, with the help of my editor, i presume.
Allah Forgiveness!’ He touches his tongue with both his first finger tips, and then touches his ears with them’. 
But I was not happy with it because in Punjabi, it was effortless:
Allah Maafi!’ Oh unglaN de poTay jeebh te rakh ke kannaN noon laanday naiN’.
Later, back in Canada in 2007-08 when I was referencing the English manuscript with the published Punjabi version, the above English sentence also became better.
‘Allah Forgiveness!’ He places his fingertips on his tongue, and then touches his ears with them. (Skeena, Section 1, 17. Libros Libertad, Surrey 2011)

The second example is of another difficult point that benefitted from the act of translation. This is what I had in 2005 in a para, again from the first section, and with the same character:
SaeeN Jee is lying unconscious. His cheeks are blotched with surma kohl from his eyes, and his white and orange hair is sticky with sweat. But the scariest is his mouth with his dandasa-orange lips stretched over sparkling white teeth biting a light brown piece of wood.
However painful in English, it’s rendering in Punjabi flows perfectly. Later, still bumpy, it does become a bit better in English:
SayeeN Jee is unconscious. The run-down kohl from his eyes has blotched his cheeks, and his henna-coloured white and red hair is sticky with sweat. But the scariest is his mouth where his walnut-tree-barked orange lips are stretched around a jaw revealing sparkling white teeth over a brown horizontal piece of firewood. (Skeena, Section 1, 18. Libros Libertad, Surrey 2011)

The manuscript was accepted by a publisher in 2010, and the very first editorial ‘suggestion’ was to remove all non-English words. I expected it but there’s no harm in trying. I removed most of the words within a couple of days but even then so many remained. Several methods were applied; explaining the word in text, putting meaning beside it, coming up with an acceptable translation, and re-doing the sentence. It had to be done this way, and in stages, so that the manuscript did not get scratched or injured by the extraction or addition. I am grateful to its editors and publishers in Lahore, Surrey and Vancouver for their support in letting me find suitable solutions for each instance.

Going through the editing of the Gurumukhi version of Skeena with Editor/Author Surjeet Kalsey in 2010, I realized that there were a large number of Arabic/Urdu/Persian words that would be new or unclear to the Gurumukhi reader whose cultural reference is Sikhism with language influences coming from Hindi/Sansikrit. We did contemplate adding meaning of some words but the task seemed larger than the time available. Also, how some words are written differently in Shahmukhi, and, questions if they should be left as they are or changed to the prevalent Gurumukhi convention. May be these issues will be addressed when Skeena’s Gurmukhi edition actually publishes from India.

In poetry, i find that my voice changes from one language to the other. In Punjabi, it easily links to the folk, and the emotion; in English, it is a bit blunt, unwilling to express deep emotion. Mainly because, as I was saying to Jordan Strom, so far I have had many funerals in Punjabi but not many in English, so when a woman is stoned to death or buried alive, my experience of mourning and sadness will likely find expression in Punjabi, and my anger and outrage in English. This, I guess, somewhat has to do with the privilege of being a first generation immigrant who continues to own both my languages and all my chosen Pakistani Canadian cultural values.

My current projects include a translation of Madholal Hussain’s selected Punjabi poetry in English, and some of my favourite English poems to Punjabi.

Fauzia Rafique Surrey 2011
http://gandholi.wordpress.com/
http://www.facebook.com/fauzia.zohra.rafique
@RafiqueFauzia

Photo by Janet Kvamman 2011 (treated)
*Now in an upcoming collection of Punjabi poetry.
.
.

Don’t Cry For Punjabi

tragedy

 

Written by Randeep Singh

We hear about the “loss” of Punjabi, the “tragedy” of how Punjabi is not taught in schools in West Punjab, of how Punjabi youth speak only Urdu, Hindi or English in Lahore or Chandigarh. “Imagine the sound of Punjabi and the rich cultural heritage it boasts,” writes Affan Chaudhary, “lost forever.”[1]

If there’s a tragedy, it’s the idea that the demise of Punjabi has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more one believes it, the less likely one will do anything to reverse it and the less likely that anything will change in any positive respect, least of all the feelings of doom and gloom.

I am not denying Punjabi faces challenges, but the circumstances suggest a more balanced view on the question.

First, Punjabi is neither an “endangered” nor a “vulnerable” language.[2] While it may not enjoy national or official status like Hindi, Urdu or French, neither is Punjabi an endangered or vulnerable language like Basque, Corsican or Gaelic all with less than one million speakers.

Punjabi is in fact one of the world’s most spoken languages with its number of speakers ranging from 80 to 110 million.[3] The total number of Punjabi speakers moreover has been increasing, not decreasing, since 1951.[4]

Second, rather than compare Punjabi to Urdu and Hindi, it would make more sense to compare Punjabi to languages like Gujarati, Pashto and Telugu with which its shares a similar legal and official status. What does the experience of these languages have in common with Punjabi? What initiatives have such languages taken in promoting awareness and education in one’s mother tongue in ways which can help Punjabi?

Third, few languages have proved so culturally vibrant in India, Pakistan and in the diaspora as Punjabi. Punjabi has historically dominated the film and music industry in Pakistan thanks to icons like Noor Jehan. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan raised the profile of Punjabi poetry through his musical performances. And Punjabi MC’s bhangra/dance track “Mundiyan To Bachke Rahin” topped charts in the UK, Italy and Germany and crossed over into hip-hop collaborations with Jay-Z and Timbaland.

We could add the growing popularity of Punjabi through Sufi Rock, Coke Studio and Bollywood. The point is that any discussion on Punjabi needs to count its achievements and opportunities along with its setbacks.

So don’t cry for Punjabi just yet.

[1] Affan Chaudhary, “I Speak Punjabi but My Kids Might Not,” in Express Tribune (March 16, 2012): International Tribune: :://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/10622/i-speak-punjabi-but-my-kids-might-not/

[2] UNESCO defines an endangered language as one which children no longer the language as a mother tongue in the home; and a vulnerable language as one which is spoken by most children but whose use is restricted to certain domains like the home.

[3] Ethnologue lists Western Punjabi (Lahnda) and its various dialects as the 11th most spoken language with 82.6 million speakers with an additional 28 million speakers of Eastern Punjabi. The Swedish language million speakers, the Swedish language encyclopedia, Nationalencyklopedin (2007) lists Punjabi as the 10th most spoken language in the world with 102 million speakers.

[4] http://www.statpak.gov.pk/depts/pco/index.html