Punjabi Poetry: Ustad Daman

Trans.daman

Written by Randeep Purewall

Ustad Daman (né Chiragh Din) was born in Lahore in 1911. As a boy, he worked at his father’s tailoring shop while also attending school. Daman learned classical Punjabi poetry at home and was educated in Urdu. He also learned Persian and English including Shakespeare, Keats and Hardy.

Having participated in school poetry recitals, Daman began attending musha’ara in the parks, fairs and bazaars of Lahore as a teenager during the 1920s. The movement for India’s independence had already begun. In 1929, the Indian National Congress made its Declaration of Independence from Lahore. The city was also home to Marxist groups like the Kirti Kisan and anti-colonial and revolutionary groups like the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association.

858340751-indian-national-congress-independence-movement-lahore-independence-concept

Daman recited his own revolutionary and anti-colonial poetry at the musha’ara. While attending one such gathering, Jawaharlal Nehru referred to Daman as the “Poet of Freedom.”

‘In China the Chinese are grand,
In Russia they do as they have planned.
In Japan its people rule over its strand.
The British rule the land of England,
The French hold the land of France,
In Tehran the Persians make their stand.
The Afghans hold on to their highland,
Turkmenistan’s freedom bears the Turkmen’s brand,
How very strange is indeed this fact,
That freedom in India is a contraband’
(Trans. F. Sharma)

Daman remained in Lahore upon the creation of Pakistan in 1947. The riots of the Partition had consumed his shop and library and he lost his wife and son to illness. His first act of political defiance came in 1958 when he made fun of Pakistan’s first military coup under Ayub Khan. Daman’s arrest however did little to temper his criticism of Pakistan’s military dictatorships and the corruption of its civilian governments in his poetry.

Daman wrote in Punjabi and the form, rhythm and metaphor of his poetry bears the influence of the classical and folk Punjabi tradition. If he could be sober and thoughtful in writing on the Partition, he could also adopt a more comic and satirical note in criticizing General Zia. He maintained a friendship with poets like Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib, but lived unassumingly in an old apartment in the precinct of the Badshahi Mosque.

Daman died in 1984. His poetry was published after his death by his friends and followers. The room he lived in near the Badshahi Mosque has since become an academy in his name.

Selected Poems (Trans. F. Sharma)

We may not say it but know it well
You lost your way. We too.
Partition has destroyed us friends.
You too, and us.
The wakeful have quite plundered us.
You slept the while, and we.
Into the jaws of death alive
You were flung. We too.
Life still may stir in us again:
You are stunned yet, and we.
The redness of the eyes betrays
You too have wept, and we.

What a house, this Pakistan!
Above live saints, down thieves have their run
A new order has come into force
Up above twenty families, below the hundred million.
Other people conquered mountains,
We live under the divisions heavy ton.
Other people may have conquered the moon.
But in a yawning precipice a place we’ve won.
I ran and ran and was aching all over,
I looked back and saw the donkey resting under the banyan.


Two gods hold my country in their sway
Martial law and La Illaha have here their heyday.
That one rules there over in the heavens
Down here this one’s writ runs.
His name is Allah Esquire.
This one is called Zia, the light of truth in full array.
Hurrah, General Zia, hip hip hooray,
Whoever can make you go away.

Ecstacy does my land surround
All around the Army is to be found.
Hundreds of thousands were surrendered as POWs.
Half of the land was bartered away in the fray.
Hurrah, General Zia, hip hip hooray,
Whoever can make you go away.

On TV you give recitations from Quran
With fables and traditions you go on and on.
Here we are engulfed in a brouhaha
While up there you are still there, my Allah
A pretender has staked his claim today
Hurrah, General Zia, hip hip hooray,
Whoever can make you go away.

Thankful are some if they can chop wood
The others, on them, their orders bestow.
Why have the people lost their mind?
For every one the Almighty has a loving glow.
People are the real masters of this world
Orders do not from the handle of a sword flow.
The ones, Daman, who have forsaken God,
Those Nimruds are laid low at the very first blow.

Recognize Sikh Community As Integral Part of Pakistani Society – Add Sikhism to the Current Headcount Form

Ramesh Singh Arora, MPA, Punjab Assembly, Lahore (Photo: Pakistan Today)

It is a scandal that Pakistan’s Sikh community does not feature in the country’s Headcount happening now after a gap of 19 years. In the section of religion, the forms offer Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Qadianiat, scheduled caste, and ‘others’. This has prompted the Sikh community to launch protests in different parts of the country, and one of the leaders who is the ‘first and only Sikh lawmaker in the Punjab Assembly since the partition,’ Ramesh Singh Arora spoke on a point of order in the Punjab Assembly on Monday, and said that he feels his community is being ‘marginalised’, and he asked that the federal and provincial governments redress this issue immediately as the country’s 6th Headcount was already underway.

According to Arora, there may be about 25,000 Sikhs in Pakistan, but the actual number can not be ascertained if the current Headcount does not provide a clear option.

This oversight on part of Pakistan government, that Arora attributes to bureaucracy, may be another reflection of the prejudice that exists against minorities within this self-entitled ‘Muslim’ government that chose to use religion as one of the coercive weapons to control the population.

Not only that Sikhism was founded in areas now in Pakistan, but the Sikh community represents the richness and continuity of Punjabi culture through literature, language, architecture and songs, and it reminds us that there once was a secular and humane Punjabi Sikh Empire in Indian Subcontinent that at its peak in the 19th century ‘extended from the Khyber Pass in the west to western Tibet in the east, and from Mithankot in the south to Kashmir in the north’, and that it was ‘the last major region of the subcontinent to be conquered by the British’. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikh_Empire)

Pakistan and Punjab governments must add Sikhism to the provided list of religions, because it’s not just about the numbers; omitting Sikhism from the list of religions from the forms for national census, also omits and makes invisible the historical and the ongoing peaceful and constructive role played by Sikh community in the development of Pakistani society.

Fauzia
gandholi.wordpress.com

Facebook
facebook.com/UddariWeblog
Twitter
twitter.com/UddariWeblog
..

Back to the Moment of Promise – ‘Azadi’ (freedom) Series of Art Work by Shahid Mirza

Artist Shahid Mirza’s Azadi Series is a set of seven mix media paintings illustrating different aspects of our ‘freedom’ from British rule in the 1947 partition of India. From the direct, explicit and in-your-face bloody history of our colonization to the fading shades of secularism in Pakistan, these paintings invite us to contemplate on ourselves post-partition.

Choice of mix media creates the eerie feeling of contemporality within the historicity of the past. With each of these paintings, the Artist tries to bring us back to that moment of promise when freedom from colonization and sectarian bigotry seemed possible; when millions of lives were lost to achieve it.

By bringing us back to that moment of promise, the Artist encourages us to confront our own concepts and constructs of ‘freedom’ before we go on and congratulate ourselves on the continuation of the hollow and shallow facade of celebrating August 14.

azadi-1a-shahidmirzaAzadi 1
Blood-letting of the powerless.

azadi-2a-shahidmirzaAzadi 2
Destruction of life by agents of the state.

azadi-3-shahidmirzaAzadi 3
Changing positions of (Muslim and Hindu) power-brokers.

azadi-4-shahidmirzaAzadi 4
The deadly religio-spiritual antagonist.

azadi-5-shahidmirzaAzadi 5
Sectarian violence.

azadi-6-shahidmirzaAzadi 6
Early faces of hope.

azadi-7-shahidmirzaAzadi 7
Freedom for who?

Created after the formation of Bangladesh, Bhutto’s assassination, Zia’s Islamicization, and Pakistan’s Talibanization, Azadi Series displays the history of partition in the context of today, and, in bringing the past into the present where we continue to suffer from the same but intensified problems of inequality, these paintings insist that the moment of promise is now.

View Shahid Mirza’s profile
Contact Shahid Mirza
Visit his Facebook page

Azadi Series by Shahid Mirza first Published at Uddari Art, Punjab 1947 & After
..

Contact Uddari Weblog
uddariweb@gmail.com
Facebook
UddariWeblog
Twitter
twitter.com/UddariWeblog
..

Lessons in Remembering

POSTER3

“Never Forget 1984.” These were the words on a sign outside a Sikh gurdwara in Surrey. The sign was posted to announce the anniversary of Operation Bluestar, the Indian army attack on the holy Sikh precinct between June 3 to June 8, 1984.

Operation Bluestar has not been forgotten. It has been the subject of living-room chats, news coverage, documentaries, history books and gurdwara activities in the years since … so what is it we should never forget?

The gurdwara wants you to remember the cause of Khalistan (‘Pure Land’), a separate Sikh state. Khalistan though has become a “Khaalistan” (’empty land’). Its supporters are now mostly on the fringe. Many Sikhs have left India. Few desire another partition.

… I remember 1984. I just don’t want any part of it.

The Harjit Kaur Sidhu Memorial Program – Vancouver March 16-17

The-Harjit-Kaur-Sidhu-Memorial-Program-2016‘Lumber being air dried’ (1910), Vancouver Public Library Acc. No. 14264.

The Eighth Annual
Celebration of Punjabi
The Harjit Kaur Sidhu Memorial Program 2016
Presented by the Department of Asian Studies, UBC
UBC Asian Centre, 1871 West Mall

March 16, 7-9 PM, UBC Asian Centre Auditorium
Reception with snacks at 6:30
Talk on the Ghadar movement by Sunit Singh (University of Chicago)
Award presentation to student winners in a Punjabi-language essay contest
Honour BC-based Punjabi-language author Jarnail Singh Sekha with a life-time achievement award
View performances in Punjabi by students in Punjabi 200 and films by students from ASIA 475, ‘Documenting Punjabi Canada’.

March 17, 4 PM, Room 604, UBC Asian Centre
Talk by Sunit Singh ‘Western Clarion: Canadian Socialists and Indian Migration to British Columbia’, exploring the connections between members of the Punjabi Canadian community and the Canadian Left.

For more information
asia.ubc.ca under “events”
blogs.ubc.ca/punjabisikhstudies under ‘annual event’

Contact Uddari
uddariweblog@gmail.com
Facebook
facebook.com/UddariWeblog
Twitter
twitter.com/UddariWeblog
..

Book Launch – ‘A Journey With The Endless Eye’ – Ajmer Rode & Jarnail Singh

Uddari congratulates Ajmer Rode, Jarnail Singh Artist, NAAD Foundation and Ekstasis Editions for creating this book of images and words on the historic incident of Komagata Maru.

Naad Foundation
Proudly invites you
ajmerrode-booklaunch

to the launch of
A JOURNEY WITH THE ENDLESS EYE
(stories of Komagata Maru incident)
21 February 2016, 2:00 pm
Crossroads United Church, 7655, 120 St, Delta, BC
Free Event, Refreshments

Featuring
Tabla by Amarjit Singh
Songs by Gagandeep Singh
Flute by Dr. Bruce Harding
A Play by Gurdip Arts Academy
Painting exhibition by Jarnail Singh

Written by
Ajmer Rode and Jarnail Singh Artist
Published by
Richard Olafson of Ekstasis Editions

More information
naadfoundation.ca – 778-565-4005
Ajmer Rode – 604-526-2342
Jarnail Singh Artist – 604-825-4659

Supported by: TMG Logistics, Basant Motors, Komagatamaru Foundation, RED FM, MY FM, Jassal Signs, Gurdeep Arts Academy, Jarnail Arts, Crossroads United Church.

Contact Uddari
uddariweblog@gmail.com
Facebook
facebook.com/UddariWeblog
Twitter
twitter.com/UddariWeblog
..

‘The Lustre Of Dollars On The Sarbat Khalsa’ by Daljit Ami

daljitami-punjab-protest

The North American Sikh Summit took place at Yuba City, California, on October 31 this year. The summit organisers claimed that, in their deliberations on the current Sikh crises in Punjab, they had the support of a hundred Gurdwaras and Sikh organizations. The summit passed three resolutions. On the same date, in England, the Federation of Sikh Organizations conducted the World Sikh Summit at Birmingham and claimed that Sikhs from over twenty nations had participated and passed eight resolutions. The two summits might not be directly related to each other but the resolutions they both passed form a complex relationship. The current crises in Punjab – the general pardon of the Dera Sacha Sauda Head and its revocation, the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib, the matter of the Five Chosen Ones, and the Behbal Kalan police firing in which two young men died – are being presented as the express reason for the two summits but reports in the media reveal that these are mere immediate provocations.

Though the two resolutions have by-passed a few contentious terms, the intent of the resolutions is clear – they are linked to the Gurdwara management and the religious activities of the Sikhs. By including points on Akal Takht’s decorum as sanctioned by the Sikh Gurus, the behaviour of the leaders – Jathedars – as per their status, and the plenary religious congregation – Sarbat Khalsa, the North American and Europe Sikhs make a strong pitch for their own greater participation in the religious affairs of the Sikh community. Given how the chief players in Punjab have wrecked havoc with the institutions there is no doubt that the Sikh politics, Shiromani Akali Dal – Badal and even others, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee need to be reformed. This article attempts to analyze how much say the diaspora voice should have in the matters and what are the consequences of surrendering control to only these voices.

The Yuba City resolution seeks to re-establish the Akal Takht to its pristine Sikh Guru sanctioned status beyond the interference of political and ruling party machinations. It seeks to listen to the voice of thirty million Sikhs by ushering in transparency and accountability to the selection and function of the Jathedar of the Akal Takht. Alongside, it seeks to restore the status of the Five Chosen Ones – Panj Piyare. The second point is on supporting the Khalsa plenary – Sarbat Khalsa – on November 10. The resolution states that it represents the North American Sikhs and gives the community the right to finalize the Jathedar of the Akal Takht by Baisakhi 2016. It calls for the next Sarbat Khalsa before April 2016 and requests all factions, irrespective of ideological and other differences, to participate on the November 10 Sarbat Khalsa. The third point exhorts the Sikhs of North America to strengthen their voice and calls for nominating two persons per Gurdwara or organization to the committee to attend the November 10 Sarbat Khalsa. It seeks representation of local views, without discriminations and with equality, into shaping its agenda by April 2016.

The Birmingham resolution seeks a free and prosperous Sikh rule. The second point calls for a revocation of Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal honorific title Pride of the Nation to Traitor of the Nation and removal of the name Singh from the names of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Avtar Singh Makkad, the current head of the SGPC. It is symbolic of them they no longer being Sikhs for they have betrayed the Sikh community. The third point calls for a social boycott of the leaders of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and the SGPC and calls for their resignations and sacking of the heads of the five Takhts. The fourth point calls for the Sikhs to unite and create their own parliament and bank. The fifth point calls for consensus candidates from the Sikh community to be elected the Jathedars of the five Takhts. The point contests the hegemony of the SGPC and their being considered the representatives of the Sikh Gurdwaras. It states that SGPC’s jurisdiction is confined to historial Gurudwaras of Punjab and a few other states of India so diaspora Sikhs are not under it.The sixth point strongly emphasises that the Sarbat Khalsa be called for in Punjab with the express consent of all Sikh organizations and leaders. The seventh point is for action against police personnel who fired on the peaceful demonstrators protesting the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib. The last point is a call for the 30th anniversary of the Sarbat Khalsa conducted on April 29, 1986 in which the Sikh Self-Rule was announced.

Even if we ignore the internal contradictions between these resolutions, we need to ask whether these North America and England resolutions are to be implemented in Punjab. The two resolutions force the Sikh political leaders in Punjab to disclose if they are beholden to these the political aspirations of the Sikhs in North America and Europe or sovereignity has a meaning for them? These two summits seem to represent the political beliefs and understanding of the affluent Sikhs in those parts of the world. That makes it incumbent upon us to ask if these resolutions reflect the arrogant shine the dollars.Have we now come to such an impasse that Punjab’s issues can only be resolved by expatriate communities or does our own humble effort mean something?

When everything in today’s politics is evaluated with reference of intelligence agencies then why should the dollar politics not be subjected to such scrutiny? Who can study the behaviour of migrant communities and their political aspirations? Isn’t it ironical that most migration studies are conducted themselves by the migrant communities – a south Indian in America or a south Asian or European scholar? Most of these studies are about the emotional aspect of migration. It is only when we study how potential migrants – to America, Europe and Australia – compromise their ethical, religious, social and humanistic values that we shall understand the layers of hatred concealed by the pride that such communities project outwards. Also note that the American and European nation’s government has allowed their citizens to speak against their native lands and that draws the migrants to these countries. These migrants support their foreign policies, actively. The Sikh diaspora communities settled in NATO countries has supported the NATO attacks on different countries.The powerful North American Sikh community tries hard to showcase itself as the ideal of American values. If this community seeks to create a separate identity for itself from the Muslims, it also participates in the anti-Islam discourse of its adopted country.

The migrant Sikhs keep their contacts with Punjab’s organisations and religious-political wheeler-dealers but their own loyalties lie with their adopted countries. On the Canadian-American border, a religious person was caught smuggling drugs inside the Holy Book. When the sacrilege issues from Punjab reaches the expatriate Sikhs they burst out in anger.Why didn’t they feel a similar anger when the Guru Granth Sahib is insulted in their adopted countries? Has there been any protest about that in North America? On top of that, the tone in which they sermonise Punjab imitates the way their adopted nations instruct the world through armed invasions and dole out lessons on tackling corruption and install dictatorial regimes. It might help us to remember that before invading Afghanistan the United States had rained leaflets filled with messages of the Holy Quran.

No doubt the Punjabi expatriates feel about Punjab but that does not mean they become automatically the well wishers of Punjab. Even if they don the garb of Punjab’s issues, we need to ask how their arrogance can improve Punjab. No doubt it is difficult to ask these questions to our friends and relatives, the questions can even cause us momentary pain, but Punjab will have to ask these tough questions. Not that these questions reduce the culpability of the Punjab politicians and organizations, in fact they enhance the responsibility of Punjab’s betterment on its inhabitants. After all, if Punjab has to walk straight it has to bear the brunt of its autumnal sun on its back; it has to drink the water of its own hand pumps. Will the shower of dollars on the martyrs of Behbal Kalan allow the Sikhs to re-connect with their own Gurus? Can the dream of self reliant sovereign Punjab as expressed in folklore with reference of Dulla Bhatti – ‘first demolish Delhi’s seat of power’ and ‘then Lahore’s throne’ – be realised in the lustre of dollars?It is a matter of autonomy and not hiding in the shadow of the diaspora. For, finally the answers to Punjab’s crises will have to come from Punjab’s land.

Translated from Punjabi by Amandeep Sandhu

Reprinted with thanks from: Countercurrents.org
07 November, 2015

Daljit Ami
daljit-ami
Daljit is an independent filmmaker from Punjab who has made over a dozen documentary films on different issues. He worked as freelance journalist with Punjabi Tribune, Day and Night News and BBC Hindi. His most recent work is translation of Amandeep Sandhu’s novel ‘Roll of Honour’ from English to Punjabi as ‘Gwah De Fanah Hon Toh Pehilan’.

Contact Uddari
uddariweblog@gmail.com
Facebook
facebook.com/UddariWeblog
Twitter
twitter.com/UddariWeblog
..