Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize – Launch Vancouver Oct 8/13

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
The Golden Jubilee Room
(Irving K Barber Learning Centre)
UBC, 1961 East Mall
Free & open to the public
Poetry Readings in Punjabi/English
Fauzia Rafique and Ajmer Rode
DIPLP – Prize Program – Vancouver Launch

The Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize has been founded to celebrate the rich history and living present of Punjabi language and literature, around the globe. A cash prize of $25,000 CDN will be awarded annually to one ‘best book’ in either Gurmukhi or Shahmukhi. Two runner-up prizes of $5,000 CDN will be awarded, one for each script. Winners will be honored at an annual Gala, held in Vancouver in its inaugural year and at alternative host cities around the world subsequently.

The Prize will be awarded by Canada India Education Society (CIES) in partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC). CIES has an over twenty-year history of success in leading educational, community development, healthcare and job creation projects in India. Guided by a strong interest in Punjab, the Society partners in this venture with the Department of Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts at UBC, which is home to one of the largest and longest standing Punjabi language programs outside of South Asia. The aim of this partnership is to highlight the literature of a rich and passionate language that can speak not only to Punjabis around the world, but to all.

The success of the Scotiabank Giller prizes in fostering recognition of Canadian literature encouraged the formation of the Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize. The Dhahan Prize will expose a neglected cultural product to a new market – the global Punjabi population – and draw attention to transnational cultural production that crosses borders and community boundaries. It will not only directly benefit writers and inspire new writing in the language, but also bring new attention to writing in Punjabi in general, within a broader community. The Prize will entice new readership and ideally, the translation of works from Punjabi into English. It will also bring crucial material support to writers already active in the field.

Punjabi literature speaks in a language we can all understand; this Prize will give us a chance to hear it.

India Launch
November 11th, Evening
J.W. Marriott Chandigarh
Plot no: 6, Sector 35-B, Dakshin Marg · Chandigarh, 1600 35 India
The Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize
will be awarded on an annual basis to honor
the finest literary works produced each year in the Punjabi language.
Please RSVP by November 6th to info@cies.ca

Pakistan Launch
November 14th, Evening
Hospitality Inn Lahore
(Formerly Holiday Inn Lahore)
25-26 Egerton Road Lahore 54000
The Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize
will be awarded on an annual basis to honor
the finest literary works produced each year in the Punjabi language.
Please RSVP by November 10th to info@cies.ca

DIPLP – Prize Brochure


‘MaaN dee Matt – Mother’s Advice’ by Masood Munawer

Toon, lokaaN vich rehna putra
TooN, lokaaN nooN sehna putra

LokaN dee tooN boli bolaiN
jinna aakhhen, ona tolaiN

Hassa mangan, hassa dewaiN
Rattee mangan, massa dewaiN

LokaN nooN sach kaurra lagda
Bohta jhhooT ve thhorra lagda

Sachi gal kadi na dasseiN
Apna bhed luka ke rakhheiN

Ik jaali behroop bana lae
Rang branga roop racha lae

Loki khauf de ghar vich rehnday
Har ohlay dee chhawaiN behnday

Lok sangat ik kacha bhanda
Sukka, sarreya, teela tanda

LokaaN noon khush rakhna aukha
Zehr da moongar chakhna saukha

Peenda jaawaiN, hasda jaawaiN
Khhurda jawaiN, ghasda jawaiN

Eh jindrri ik khhoTa paisa
Chal janda sab aissa waissa

Aithay saadh sangat nahiN labhni
Aithay jindrri aiwaiN langhani

ماں دی مت

تُوں ، لوکاں وچ ریہنا پُترا
تُوں ، لوکاں نوں سیہنا پُترا
لوکاں دی تُوں بولی بولیں
جنّا آکھن ، اونا تولیں
ہاسا منگن ، ہاسا دیویں
رتّی منگن ، ماسہ دیویں
لوکاں نوں سچ کوڑا لگدا
بوہتا جھوٹ وی تھوڑا لگدا
سچّی گل ، کدی نہ دسّیں
اپنا بھیت لُکا کے رکھیں
اِک جعلی بہروپ بنا لے
رنگ برنگا روپ رچا لے
لوکی خوف دے گھر وچ ریہندے
ہر اوہلے دی چھانویں بیہندے
لوک سنگت اک کچّا بھانڈا
سُکّا ، سڑیا ، تیلا ٹانڈا
لوکاں نوں خوش رکھنا اوکھا
زہر دا مونگر چکھنا سوکھا
پیندا جانویں ، ہسدا جانویں
کُھردا جانویں ، گھسدا جانویں
ایہہ جندڑی اک کھوٹا پیسہ
چل جاندا سب ایسا ویسا
ایتھے سادھ سنگت نہیں لبھنی
ایتھے جندڑی ایویں لنگھنی

‘Dhol ڈھول ‘ – Punjabi poem by Zubair Ahmad

Milna ee taaN mil
ais jahanay
jewndi jaanay
haal gharri vich
aisay saaNheiN
aj de raateiN
aissay pal
milna ee taaN mil

Rooh de baNheiN
akhh de saaheiN
yaad gali vich
ossay nukarray
jithay chad aye saaN
milna ee taaN mil

Dharti ghumdi
badal nachday
paer hawa-eiN
udday udday
asmaaneiN gaye
milna ee taaN mil


ملِنا ای تاں مِل
ایس جہانے
جیوندی جانے
حال گھڑی وچ
ایسے ساہیں
اج دی راتیں
ایسے پل
ملِنا ای تاں مِل

روح دی باہیں
اکھ دی ساہیں
یاد گلی وچ
اوسے نُکڑے
جتھے چھڈ آئے ساں
ملنا ای تاں مِل

دھرتی گھُمدی
بدل نچدے
پیر ہوائیں
اُڈے اُڈے
اسمانیں گئے
ملِنا ای تاں مِل


From Zubair Ahmad’s new collection of poems ‘Sadd’ (Call), Sanjh Publications, Lahore 2012

Contact Zubair


‘YaaN koi oho jeha – یاں کوئی اوہو جیہا ‘ by Zubair Ahmad

A Punjabi poem by Zubair Ahmad.

Din khali se
sarrkeiN vug geya
dau tin var murr ke takeya
ik adh vaar khyal peya
yaaN taaN se oho
yaaN koi oho jeha

دِن خالی سی
سڑکیں وگ گیا
دو تن وار مُڑ کے تکیا
اک ادّھ وار خیال پیا
یاں تاں سی اوہو
یاں کوئی اوہو جیہا

زبیر احمد

From Zubair Ahmad’s new collection of poems ‘Sadd’ (Call), Sanjh Publications, Lahore 2012

Contact Zubair


A Short History of Punjabi Literature

Punjabi literature refers to literary works written in the Punjabi language particularly by peoples from the historical Punjab region of India and Pakistan including the Punjabi diaspora. The language is written in several different scripts, of which the Shahmukhi, the Gurmukhī scripts are the most commonly used.

Early Punjabi Literature (11-15th centuries)

Although the earliest Punjabi literature is found in the fragments of writings of the eleventh century yogis Gorakshanath and Charpatnah, the Punjabi literary tradition is popularly seen to commence with Fariduddin Ganjshakar (1173–1266) whose Sufi poetry was compiled after his death in the Adi Granth.

The Janamsakhis, stories on the life and legend of Guru Nanak (1469-1539), are early examples of Punjabi prose literature. Nanak’s own poetry was fused Punjabi, Khari Boli and Braj Bhasha, with vocabulary from Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian as was much of the literature of the later Sikh Gurus.

Mughal and Sikh Periods (16th century to 1857)

Punjabi poetry developed through Shah Hussain (1538–1599) and the Sufi tradition of Sultan Bahu (1628–1691), Shah Sharaf (1640–1724), Ali Haider (1690–1785), and Bulleh Shah (1680–1757). In contrast to Persian poets, who had preferred the ghazal for poetic expression, Punjabi Sufi poets tended to compose in the Kafi.


Punjabi Sufi poetry also influenced the Punjabi Qissa, a genre of romantic tragedy which also derived inspiration from Indic, Persian and Quranic sources. The Qissa of Heer Ranjha by Waris Shah (1706–1798) is among the most popular of Punjabi qisse. Other popular stories include Sohni Mahiwal by Fazal Shah, Mirza Sahiba by Hafiz Barkhudar (1658–1707), Sassi Punnun by Hashim Shah (1735?–1843?), and Qissa Puran Bhagat by Qadaryar (1802–1892).

Heroic ballads known as Vaar enjoy a old oral tradition in Punjabi. Prominent examples of heroic or epic poetry include Guru Gobind Singh‘s in Chandi di Var (1666–1708). The semi-historical Nadir Shah Di Vaar by Najabat describes the invasion of India by Nadir Shah in 1739. The Jangnama, or ‘War Chronicle,’ was introduced into Punjabi literature during the Mughal period; the Punjabi Jangnama of Shah Mohammad (1780–1862) recounts the First Anglo-Sikh War of 1845–46.

 The Colonial Period (1858-1947)

The Victorian novel, Elizabethan drama, free verse and Modernism entered Punjabi literature through the introduction of British education during the Raj. The first Punjabi printing press (using Gurmukhi) was established through a Christian mission at Ludhiana in 1835, and the first Punjabi dictionary was published by Reverend J. Newton in 1854.

The Punjabi novel developed through Nanak Singh (1897–1971) and Vir Singh. Starting off as a pamphleteer and as part of the Singh Sabha Movement, Vir Singh wrote historical romance through such novels as Sundari, Satwant Kaur and Baba Naudh Singh, whereas Nanak Singh helped link the novel to the story telling traditions of Qissa and oral tradition as well as to questions of social reform.

The novels, short stories and poetry of Amrita Pritam (1919–2005) highlighted, among other themes, the experience of women, and the Partition of India. Punjabi poetry during the British Raj moreover began to explore more the experiences of the common man and the poor through the work of Puran Singh (1881–1931). Other poets such as Dhani Ram Chatrik (1876–1957), Diwan Singh (1897–1944) and Ustad Daman (1911–1984), explored and expressed nationalism in their poetry during India’s freedom movement.


Modernism was also introduced into Punjabi poetry by Prof. Mohan Singh (1905–78) and Shareef Kunjahi. The Punjabi diaspora also began to emerge during the Raj and also produced poetry whose theme was revolt against British rule in Ghadar di Gunj (Echoes of Mutiny).

Post-Independence literature (1947- )

West Punjab (Pakistan)

Najm Hossein Syed, Fakhar Zaman and Afzal Ahsan Randhawa are some of the more prominent names in West Punjabi literature produced in Pakistan since 1947. Literary criticism in Punjabi has also emerged through the efforts of West Punjabi scholars and poets, Shafqat Tanvir Mirza (b. 1932), Ahmad Salim, and Najm Hosain Syed (b. 1936). The work of Zaman and Randhawa often treats the rediscovery of Punjabi identity and language in Pakistan since 1947.

Urdu poets of the Punjab have also written Punjabi poetry including Munir Niazi (1928–2006).

East Punjab (India)

Amrita Pritam (1919–2005), Shiv Kumar Batalvi (1936–1973), Surjit Paatar (1944–) and Pash (1950–1988) are some of the more prominent poets and writers of East Punjab (India). Pritam’s Sunehe (Messages) received the Sahitya Akademi in 1982. In it, Pritam explores the impact of social morality on women. Kumar’s epic Luna (a dramatic retelling of the legend of Puran Bhagat) won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1965.


Socialist themes of revolution meanwhile influenced writers like Pash whose work demonstrates the influence of Pablo Neruda and Octavio Paz. Meanwhile, modern drama developed through Ishwar Nanda’s Ibsen-influenced Suhag in 1913, Gursharan Singh who helped popularize the genre through live theatre in Punjabi villages and Kartar Singh Duggal, and Balwant Gargi.

Diaspora Punjabi literature

Punjabi diaspora literature has developed through writers in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the United States, as well as writers in Africa such as Ajaib Kamal, born in 1932 in Kenya. Themes explored by diaspora writers include the cross-cultural experience of Punjabi migrants, racial discrimination, exclusion, and assimilation, the experience of women in the diaspora, and spirituality in the modern world. Second generation writers of Punjabi ancestry such as Rupinderpal Singh Dhillon (Roop Dhillon) have explored the relationship between British Punjabis and their immigrant parents as well as experiment with surrealism, science-fiction and crime-fiction.

* First published by me in Wikipedia under “Punjabi literature”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punjabi_literature

‘Dil De Tutti kandh Te’ – On the heart’s broken wall – by Mudasar Punnu


Dil de Tutti kandh te
Virlo virli chaRhdi rahndi
Yadan de vail
Pittal akhaaN paan lishkaray
Chann parchaaweyaaN lahndi
AasaaN de trel
Din pattar
Rattan reet hoyaN
Jekar aaway sajjan peyara
Hoye nawaiN swaal

Photo by Mudasar Punnu


‘Mere Ghar nooN Deemak Lag gaye Ae میرے گھر نوں دیمک لگ گئی اے’ by Kausar Jamal

Eh nikki jehi ik soonDi ae
per akaThh hai lakhh karorraN da
eh tere mere ghar vich ghhuss ke
apnay ghar banandi ae
khaki rang de khaimay la ke
vang fauj de rehndi ae
eh hukm waDee sarkar da mann di
sajjan teri ae, na meri ae

Mere ghar nooN deemak lag gaye ae

Eh lakrri kaghaz khhaandi ae
harfan de deway bujhaandi ae
eh neera kardi jaandi ae
kandhaaN boohay Dhandi ae
chhatt siraN tooN lahndi ae
eh gujjiaN maraN dendi ae
eh dushman barri kameeni ae

Mere ghar nooN deemak lag gaye ae

KeiwaiN ais tooN jan bachaawaN
keiwaiN apna ghar bachaawaN
na mardi ae na jaandi ae
na khhairra mera chhaDdi ae
eh kutti dahdi peendi ae
eh dushman barri kameeni ae

Mere ghar nooN deemak lag gaye ae

Siyaanay mainuN den salahwaaN
‘jiss ghar nooN deemak lag jaaway
oss ghar tooN kadi na jaaway
ais ghar diyaN kandhaaN Dhha de
neeyaaN nooN zehr pela de
tooN pehlay ehdi patt bana
fer ghar ik nawaN bana
ais gal vich der na la
jiss ghar nooN deemak lag jaaway
oss ghar tooN kadi na jaaway’.

Siyaanay mainuN den salahwaaN:
ghar ik nawaaN bana

Mere ghar nooN deemak lag gaye ae

میرے گھر نوں دیمک لگ گئی اے

اے نکّی جئی اک سنڈی اے
پر کٹھ ہے لکھ کروڑاں دا
اے تیرے میرے گھر وچ گھس کے
آپنے گھر بناندی اے
خاکی رنگ دے خیمے لا کے
وانگ فوج دے رہندی اے
اے حکم وڈی سرکار دا من دی
سجّن تیری اے، نہ میری اے

میرے گھر نوں دیمک لگ گئی اے

اے لکّڑی کاغذ کھاندی اے
حرفاں دے دیوے بجھاندی اے
اے نیرا کردی جاندی اے
کندھاں بوۓ ڈھاندی اے
چھت سراں توں لاندی اے
اے گجّیاں ماراں دندی اے
اے دشمن بڑی کمینی اے

میرے گھر نوں دیمک لگ گئی اے

میں کیویں اس توں جان چھڑاواں
کیویں آپنا گھر بچاواں
نہ مردی اے نہ جاندی اے
نہ کھیڑا میرا چھڈّدی اے
اے کنّی ڈاڈی پینڈی اے
اے دشمن بڑی کمینی اے

میرے گھر نوں دیمک لگ گئی اے

:سیانے مینوں دین صلاحواں
جس گھر نوں دیمک لگ جاوے ”
اس گھر توں کدی نہ جاوے
اس گھر دیاں کندھاں ڈھا دے
نیواں نوں زہر پلا دے
توں پہلے ایدھی پٹ بنآ
فیر گھر اک نواں بنا
اس کم وچ دیر نہ لا
جس گھر نوں دیمک لگ جاوے
“اس گھر توں کدی نہ جاوے

:سیانے مینوں دین صلاحواں
گھر اک نواں بنا

میرے گھر نوں دیمک لگ گئی اے

Kausar Jamal is a Pakistani poet and fiction writer working as a language professional in Australia. She has published a collection of her Urdu short storiesJahan-e-Digar’ in 2006 (Poorab Academy, Islamabad) to high acclaim. Her other publications include: travelogue ‘Cheeni MangoloN ke Shehr MeiN’ (Youyi Publications, 1987), ‘Cheen MeiN Urdu’ (National Language Authority, Islamabad 1986), ‘Jadeed Cheeni Zaban’ (NUML, Islamabad 1985), Chinese poetry translated in Urdu ‘Mehektey Haar’ (Pakistan Academy of Letters, Islamabad 1984), a collection of Chinese folk stories translated in Urdu ‘Moor Shahzadi’ (Foreign Languages Press, Beijing 1983).