‘Revealing the Invisible Heritage of Panjab’, Panjab Digital Library

Appeal for Support

‘What if you could give a book to the entire world? Well, now you can when you Adopt a Book for digitization through the Panjab Digital Library. Your simple, generous gift comes with the promise that a piece of history will be globally available forever.

About Panjab Digital Library (PDL)
‘We continue to preserve Panjab’s heritage for future generations. Today you can view one million pages free at www.PanjabDigitalLibrary.org. To date, PDL has digitally preserved more than five million pages of manuscripts, books, newspapers, magazines and photographs.

‘But we can’t keep it up without you, our supporters around the world. Will you join with others today who are dedicated to preserving the stories and truths of Panjab? Individual donations in support of our work is the best way to help in protecting the data for perpetuity.

‘You can also support PDL’s work through a direct donation to the organization. You will be amazed at how far even a few dollars today could go toward ensuring the strength of PDL’s work in 2011!

‘Your one US dollar ($1) helps us locate, digitize, publish online and preserve 4 pages

Archives Digitized
Kurukshetra University
Panjab Languages Department
Government Museum Chandigarh
Shiromani Gurduara Parbandhak Committee
Delhi Sikh Gurduara Management Committee

Let us preserve what remains

‘Panjab Digital Library was recognized as the “Best E-Content in Culture & Heritage”
of South Asia – 2010

‘All donations are tax-deductible in the US and Canada where Sikh Research Institute is accepting them on behalf of PDL.’

Panjab Digital Library
#867, Sector 64, SAS Nagar
Panjab – 160065
South Asia: +91-981-411-3047
North America: +1-210-704-7096

‘Kitab Trinjan’ a poem by Zubair Ahmed

(To comemorate the end of Kitab Trinjan)

Lungh geyaN shamaN yaar deyaN
Yaad surahi bhhar bhhar rakhh lae
Din beetay khali paun bharae
Adh-bhulay nooN poora ker lae
Bunh bunh rakhh lae sawgundh gallaN de
Ghul ghul jo dhooN hoi
PauRiyoN leh gaye
Andar dub lae aas naroi
MuTheiN purtdi hawaeiN nup lae
MuR muR kai oh chaitay kerna
Jis na hona jo na hoi
Buss aj raat ruj vuss lae
Unt fana jo hoi

Author Zubair Ahmed made Kitab Trinjan possible through his dedication and volunteer work. View more here

Contact Uddari

Lahore’s First Punjabi Bookstore Deemed Shut

Kitab Trinjan (KT), the first dedicated shop of Punjabi books in Lahore, is due to close end of this month.

Kitab Trinjan was established in 1997 to encourage the publishing and dissemination of Shahmukhi Punjabi literature in a situation where Punjabi books were shunned away by the ‘regular’ bookshops that were happy instead to sell the more ‘lucrative/prestigious’ Urdu and English books. With regard to the privilege enjoyed by English and Urdu at the regular book shops, however, the situation in 2009 remains more or less the same.

In the last 12 years, thanks to the continuous and ongoing volunteer work of Zubair Ahmed Jan, Kitab Trinjan has sold more than 1,200,000 (12 Lakh) Punjabi books; bought 7,71,635 books from other publishers; published works created by modern Punjabi writers under various imprints; but most of all, has built a cultural community unique to itself. This community is built by extending regular interaction, support and contribution to literary communities of the Punjab, Panjab and the Diaspora. Zubair’s ongoing support to Sangat Shah Hussain in Lahore, to the online Punjabi news and cultural digest Wichaar.com, to the largest online archive of Punjabi Gurumukhi/Shahmukhi literature Apnaorg, to the only Punjabi literary quarterly magazine that prints simultaneously in Gurumukhi and Shahmukhi Temahi Sanjh, for example, has strengthened the respective organizations and cultural communities.

I had the opportunity to visit Kitab Trinjan in its very first year when Activist Zafaryab Ahmed told me in Islamabad about it, and later introduced me to Author Zubair Ahmed who was instrumental in establishing, and then managing it. Later, i went to the shop, a 1.4-roomed top floor of a depleted inner city building in Lahore, though inside, it was the most inspiring place to be. In fact, that was the first time that i had actually seen hundreds of Shahmukhi Punjabi titles in one place. It created a feeling of wonderment where i was enchanted also by the fact that the development of Punjabi literature was not in the hands of policymakers of Pakistan but us, the writers and readers of Punjabi.

Here is a 1998 photo of Kitab Trinjan from the outside, taken by Amarjit Chandan, a long time supporter of KT.

Kitab Trinjan. Lahore..1999. Pic Amarjit Chandan(2)

Detail, Kitab Trinjan by Amarjit Chandan, 1998

In 2006 and 2007, i found Kitab Trinjan in a newer, bigger and brighter place. It was doubtless the most well-organized and well-managed book shop of the three Punjabi book sellers on and around Mozang Chowk since Zubair had help from KT’s only paid worker, Ghulam Haider who worked as a full time sales associate.

The following are the reasons given for the closure of Kitab Trinjan: That there were no Punjabi book stores in 1997 and now there are two more that are operating as full time businesses; That there is duplication of services between Suchet Kitab Ghar and Kitab Trinjan; That KT is limited by its voluntary nature; and, that Zubair Ahmad, the Volunteer Manager of KT, wants to focus on his creative work.

The above reasons do not jell with me as they defy all logic; and in that, it seems that this decision is taken for the benefit of less than half a dozen people instead of the benefit of even those 6,896,000 Punjabis who were living in the city of Lahore just after Kitab Trinjan first opened its doors. In the 1998 Census, the total population of Lahore was counted as 6.8 Million, however, later estimates indicate that the population of Lahore was 10 million in 2006.

My problem is as follows:
The first reason encourages us to believe, in defiance of all demographic considerations, that perhaps there are no Punjabi speakers in the additional 3.2 Million people that were counted as living in Lahore in 2006; that may be there is no increase in the city population since 2006; or if the population increased it did no sprout any new buyers of Punjabi books; that there are no new students of Punjabi language; and, certainly no new lovers of Punjabi literature. Else, the simple fact of population increase would have been enough to justify the continued existence of, at least, these three Punjabi book stores. In other words, such reasoning suggests that 3 BOOK STORES are too many for 6 to 8 MILLION Punjabi speakers of Lahore.

The second reason perpetuates confusion as it meddles with the roles of Suchet Kitab Ghar a Publisher of books and magazines who operates as a distributor/retailer to support its primary role as a Publisher; and Kitab Trinjan, a Bookseller/Distributor who has published books only on occasion.

The third and the fourth reasons are issues that can easily be resolved by Zubair himself if given the chance. Having an outlet for Punjabi books at his home in one of the suburbs of Lahore will eliminate the daily hardship, and leave more time for creative work.

I also do not share the ‘expatriate’s politically correct’ statement forwarded by my friend and another long time supporter of KT, Ijaz Syed, in his response to the closure of Lahore’s first Punjabi book shop.
‘My heartiest felicitations to the Central Committee members for taking this timely decision! Kitab Trinjan played its historical pioneering role in the publication and distribution of punjabi books at a time when this service was most needed. In my view, along with other Central Committee friends, a lot of credit for maintaining and managing Kitab Trinjan for these twelve long years rightly goes to Zubair Jan. Of course, none of this would have happened without Najam Sahab‘s benevolent presence.’

In accordance with the ‘enlightened expatriate’s politically correct guide’, a non-critical acceptance and appreciation of this decision has duly been tendered by Ijaz, else, why would he call it a ‘timely decision’? Is it really the requirement of this time to close one of the three (progressive) Punjabi book centers in Lahore?
I think it’s time to relocate this one, and open the fourth.
Tell you why.
When Kitab Trinjan was selling an average of 1 lakh books per year, Suchet Kitab Ghar and Sanjh Publications were also registering sales, I am willing to bet on it! So, if in the last 12 years, all three have shown an increase in sales, i don’t see why Kitab Trinjan needs to shut. Also, if the establishment of a sales/distribution center by Suchet Kitab Ghar (and Sanjh) did not have a negative impact on Kitab Trinjan, why now, Kitab Trinjan needs to be eliminated in the interest of one or both?

Maqsood Saqib of Pancham/Suchet and Amjad Salim of Sanjh Publications have, for different reasons, earned my un-wavering respect and love as people and professionals; and, i fully support the work of both. The same, may be more so, is true for Zubair Ahmad of Kitab Trinjan.

In other words, Bawa Jees te Bawi Jees, please do not be presenting Lahore in such narrow terms. The City and its people need and deserve all three of these wonderful spaces to develop Punjabi literature; and still, a few more. Not less!

Fauzia Rafique

Contact Uddari

Brilliante Punjab: Offering to a writer, an editor, and a reader!

This offering of appreciation is made to three individuals who have nurtured Punjabi with creative excellence for many years; and, in different ways, all three have inspired content at Uddari Weblog during its first year.

Likhari Amarjit Chandan
Sodhi Maqsood Saqib
PaRihar Bharat Bhushan

As we all have a bit of a likhari, a sodhi and a paRihar in us, it is height of pleasantness to find individuals who are brilliant in any one area. All three have a luminous aura of work that has enriched Punjabi literature and literary communities in South Asia and Abroad.

Indeed, our writer is also an activist and a photographer; the editor, a publisher and fiction writer; and the reader, a blogger and web publisher.

Amarjit Chandan

Amarjit Chandan may be only one of the eight contributors and authors of Uddari Weblog but his presence is way more than his number share. Here are the top three.

Chandan made this most amazing contribution of over fifty portraits of Punjabi and South Asian writers, artists and poets to Uddari Art: Amarjit Chandan, a photographer’s profile

And, the second, by sending original photos of over a dozen great inspiring women, he hurried the creation of ‘Great women of Punjabi origin‘ in the very first month of Uddari. Photos included activists Gulab Kaur, Kewal Kaur, Tahira Mazhar Ali Khan, Vimla Dang and Sophia Duleep Singh.

Its only befitting than to begin the second year of Uddari with Amarjit Chandan being the first author to be added to Punjabi MaaNboli Writers Page next month. Till then, view:
Chandan’s website
Search results for ‘amarjit chandan’ at Uddari Weblog

Maqsood Saqib

Maqsood Saqib belongs to the breed of editors (and publishers) who will always prioritize quality over for example, a pressing dateline or social and monetary concerns. Though this breed may be rare in Punjabi literary journalism and at that, disappearing fast, Maqsood Saqib continues to gain strength with his ongoing output of high quality Punjabi literature in the form of books and magazines.

Saqib works out of a second floor office on a busy intersection in Lahore. The editing, production, retail and management of both Suchet Kitab Ghar and Monthly Pancham takes place in an equivalent of a two bedroom apartment with no balcony.

In 2007, i had the pleasure one time of entering that office and finding Maqsood Saqib not in his usual chair at the entrance behind a table and four guest chairs, but sitting in a fully furnished bed that had made an unexpected appearance in the middle of the production room.

The area designated here as ‘the middle of the production room’ is a 9’/12′ space erstwhile being used to get to the washroom in the right corner, to the kitchen counter straight ahead, the safe room in the left corner, photocopying and printing machines by the right wall, and the desktop publishing station by the left. Let me not forget however, that this exact area also works as a drawng room for staff and guests.

There, sitting upright in his sick bed with feverish red eyes, our editor/publisher was guiding the production of monthly Pancham from the tent of his comforter.

The second endearing episode relates to the camera ready Shahmukhi copy of my poem ‘Social self de loR’ (Need for a Social Self) that i had been asked to come and proofread for a 2006 issue of Pancham. There were a couple of typos, sure, and i handed it back to him. But… he said, this does not make much sense ‘performer dae leeRiaN andar vekhan vaal da pinda? (‘In the guise of a performer, the body of a spectator’). I said, yes, ‘vekhan vaal’ from Urdu ‘tmaashbeen’; he said, sure but ‘vekhan vaal da pinda?’

It was not until he actually held an imaginary solitary strand of hair above the table in front of me that i saw the mistake. The verse read as ‘viewing the body of a hair’ instead of ‘the body of the spectator’… It was hilarious to me but without affording a smile, he wrote it down: ‘vekhan-vaal’ as one word instead of ‘vekhan vaal’ as two.

I wonder if any other editor of Punjabi literature would have found, and then corrected, this ‘vaal-brobar’ mistake that was big enough to condemn a poem to an unintended hole of hilarity.

Here is some information on Maqsood Saqib’s work:
Another image in Uddari Photo Album

Bharat Bhushan

The first person who bought a book at Punjabi Books turned out to be none other than the Blogger at paash.wordpress.com who is determined to preserve everything written by Paash and about Paash. Bhushan believes that ‘the tragedy of Punjabi literature and culture has been that we have not done enough to preserve our history’.

Residing in UK, Bhushan bought the Shahmukhi edition of collected works of Paash titled ‘Paash, Sari Shairi’, edited by Maqsood Saqib and published by Suchet Kitab Ghar. Bhushan considers himself to be a ‘voracious reader of literature, especially Punjabi poetry’. He is a Paash enthusiast, and shares with us his motivation to collect materials about him:

‘I noticed from so many blogs in Hindi and Punjabi that there are some excerpts from Paash poems, and people are asking for more information about Paash poetry in Punjabi, Hindi, English and other languages, and more about his life and times. So I thought why not collect all of his poetry and other writings, the stories behind his writings, his life and times, his photographs, and academic research on his poetry, all at one place– a sort of reference point whereby it would be easier for others to access all this information. Hence my Paash blog.’
Bharat Bhushan

Brilliante Weblog Award is heartfelt appreciation of this community to Amarjit Chandan, Maqsood Saqib and Bharat Bhushan (i wonder about it too! Bhushan Jee, is this your real name?).

Fauzia Rafique

Contact Uddari

Most viewed Uddari posts 2008-2009

April 2008 – April 2009

In April 2008, Uddari Weblog was viewed over 600 times, by March 2009 the number had risen to 5000 views with the totals reaching 41000

Top Posts

Photo Album: Foto Mandli 2,361 views

Great Women of Punjabi Origin:
Punjab deyaN ManniaN PerwanniaN ZnaniaN

Punjabi Poems: NazmaN 1,758 views

Cultural Events: Rehtal Mehfli Varqa 1,670 views

Punjabi MaNboli Writers: Punjabi MaNboli Likhari 1,444 views

Punjabi MaNboli Publishers: Punjabi Maanboli Chhapay1,202 views

‘Sanjh’ A New Punjabi Literary Magazine 897 views

Slumbering Over Islamic Unity 887 views

All-Time Favorites
April 2008 – April 2009

Autobiography of the Great Dada Amir Haider Khan (1904-1986)

1. Royalty Rights in Punjabi Publishing

2. Royalties for Punjabi Language Authors

Modern Punjabi Literature at UBC: A glass half full!

Amarjit Chandan’s Poem being Carved in Stone in Oxfordshire

3. Author Royalties Down to Definitions in the Punjab

Post Retirement Positions for Musharraf

Bhagat Singh Shaheed Statue

Kishwar Naheed to Ahmad Faraz

‘Identity Card’ by Mahmoud Darwish in Punjabi

Lost and (Not) Found: Teen Idol Afzal Sahir

Kikli 13 July

THE SHOCK OF RECOGNITION: Looking at Hamerquist’s ‘Fascism and Anti-Fascism’ by J. Sakai

Yaar da Ditta Haar by Fauzia Rafiq

‘Porn Creation’ by Fauzia Rafiq

Most popular posts on Uddari pages

Sixty Years of Unflinching Beauty, 1948-2008

Kishwar Naheed: A Great Woman from the Punjab

Sophia Duleep Singh: A Great Punjabi Woman

Recent Raves
‘No Heer please, we’re Sikhs!’

Punjabi MaaNboli and the Punjabis-1

Fauzia Rafique

Contact Uddari

Uddari is One

April 11, Uddari Weblog is one year new!

134 Posts


295 approved

First post
April 11, 2008

Photo by Partap Singh Ahdan, Lahore 1943

Photo by Partap Singh Ahdan, Lahore 1943

Aahu Chashm Ragini
Photo by
Partap Singh Ahdan
Sourced by
Amarjit Chandan

Post intended to be the first
Royalty Rights in Punjabi Publishing

First Comment
‘It is so unfortunate that in the new provincial assembly there is no party/individual/group to voice the right of children to study in the mother tongue. maybe we need to start a signature campaign to promote the cause.’
Posted by
Home Uddari Mudhla Warqa
2008/04/07 at 9:19pm

First Uddari Page
Great Women of Punjabi Origin – Punjab Diyan Mannian Perwannian Zananian
Added on

Kewal Kaur, a Naxalite activist

Kewal Kaur, a Naxalite activist

First post
Kewal Kaur: A Great Punjabi Woman
Photo and information by
Amarjit Chandan

First Uddari blog site
Uddari Art

First work of art
Shahid Mirza’s ‘Kala MaiNdha Bhaes’

Modern Art by Punjabis
May 23 2008

Fauzia Rafique

Contact Uddari

Punjabi MaaNboli and the Punjabis-2

Punjabi is the mother tongue of 90-100 million people; out of this, Pakistan claims 63 million, and India 29. The rest of us are sprinkled around the world where Canada is the Fourth largest host with UK being the Third. In these four countries, Punjabi is deemed ‘the most commonly spoken’ language in Pakistan, ‘the 11th most commonly spoken’ language in India, ‘the 2nd most common’ spoken language in the UK, and ‘the 4th most common’ spoken language in Canada.

Yet a UNESCO report lists it as endangered to disappear in the next few decades. And, even when we can not find the report, it is apparent that the extinction may well happen if we do not take notice of the situation faced by Punjabi Maanboli at all our present locations.

Even though Punjabi MaaNboli has suffered in India from Hindi and English as it has in Pakistan from Urdu and English, its effects are not as devastating. There are many reasons for this but the most intriguing is the one that has to do with the situation in which influential Punjabis found themselves at the time of Partition.

‘Influential Punjabis’ is a flexible, rather ‘loose’, term for the decision-makers of the Punjab at different times in our history; and, it allows for diverse social formations for all three of our contexts: India, Pakistan, and the Diaspora.

The Influential Punjabis

Language as identity emerged as an important issue for Punjabis in both India and Pakistan but the positions were as distant as the two proverbial banks of River Chenab.

Where In 1947, language became one of the strongest symbols of the survival of Sikh identity for Sikh Punjabis in India, for influential Muslim Punjabis the mother language was one of the many hindrances to the implementation of the ‘ideology of Pakistan’. The status of Sikh Punjabis as an insecure minority in Hindu-dominated India was reaffirmed as bloodshed ensued among Muslims and Sikhs across new borders. On the other hand, Muslim influential Punjabis ‘owned’, so to speak, the new state of Pakistan; and, continue to be the major stake holders in the country. In that still-born concept, the growth of a ‘Muslim’ identity was deemed crucial to the survival of the new state; and so, Urdu and English were awarded the status of national languages to rule and ‘unify’ the people who were rooted in five distinct cultural, linguist and geographic locations in a far-apart ‘nation’.

Most Punjabis reside in the Pakistani province of the Punjab where it is the mother language of 44% of the population; better still, because of the privileges and influences Punjabis enjoy in the country, it is understood and spoken by 70% of the population. Yet Punjabi has no status in Pakistan. The country has two official languages, English and Urdu, although none is the mother tongue of any indigenous group in the areas included in it. Punjabi remains un-acknowledged in Pakistan; it does not enjoy the status of, for example, the third national official language or even the official language of the province of the Punjab. As a result, Punjabi is neither taught at any level of the provincial education system nor is it the language of instruction or interaction at any level of guidance or governance. This assures that the language remains bereft of jobs, resources, teachers, educationists, students, researchers, writers, publishers and readers in Pakistani Punjab where 60% of all Punjabis live.

Despite discriminatory policies and practices of the Muslim Punjabi ruling elites, a tremendous development of Punjabi language and literature continues to happen in Pakistani Punjab, and i am glad to say that it is because of the painstaking continuous work of cultural activists and intellectuals of West Punjab. With no or negligible support from successive provincial or federal governments, political parties and vested religion-based interests, Punjabi continues to be spoken, written and read by millions.

In India, although only 3% of the population is ‘native’ Punjabi speaker yet it fares way better in comparison. Here, Punjabi is recognized as one of the official languages of Chandigarh, the shared state capital; and, of the states of Delhi, Panjab and Haryana. In the state of Panjab, Punjabi acquired the status of an official language in September 2008. Now it is taught in schools, and is the language of interaction at some levels of provincial government. This has been accomplished because of the persistence of East Punjabi politicians, cultural activists and intellectuals who did not allow the government of India to disregard their language rights.

It is also true that since the Partition, much of the direction to the movements for Punjabi language development around the world has been provided by progressive writers and intellectuals from East Punjab.

Living in the third space, we continue to reflect similar patterns regarding our mother language. Out here as well, Punjabi language is nurtured by East Punjabi writers and cultural activists while West Punjabi counterparts continue to avoid any allegiance to it by choosing to write in Urdu or English. Few middle class families in Pakistan speak Punjabi at home, and this is how it is in most our families in North America. Though this is a burning issue for East Punjabi communities as well but East Punjabi community leaders have developed organizations to discuss it, spread awareness and to improve the situation. Such structures, however, are still hard to find in Pakistani Punjabi communities in the West.

In my view, the saving grace for Pakistani Punjabis has been the efforts of dedicated Punjabi intellectuals/activists such as Dr. Manzur Ejaz and Safir Rammah, who built the APNA website in Washington DC to publish Punjabi literature in both Shahmukhi and Gurumukhi. This valuable work has now branched into a bi-script quarterly literary journal, and an online Punjabi daily newspaper.

In all our physical spaces, we face similar problems with important yet marginal differences. This prompts similar solutions. An example of this is the formation of ‘chairs’ in educational institutions. From my perspective, the downside to Punjabi language development was the formation of ‘Sikh’ chairs where a large proportion of development effort went into the hands of religious interests in India and in the West. The same solution is now being implemented in Pakistan by initiating the ‘Sufi’ chairs.

It is important for the health of languages and cultures to take shape in non-restrictive creative environments, and so we must find, support and create secular spaces to develop Punjabi MaaNboli literature, languages and cultures. An interesting example of this came out last month where a folk singer was not allowed to sing Heer when requested by the audience at a music concert in a Khalsa College in India.

Also view Punjabi MaaNboli and the Punjabis-1/The PLEA Event: Need for Capacity Building

Numbers from Wiki
Top Ten Punjabi speaking countries
Pakistan: 80,000,000
India: 30,000,000
United Kingdom: 1,600,000
Canada: 800,000
United Arab Emerates: 720,000
United States: 700,000
Saudi Arabia: 640,000
Hongkong: 270,000
France: 180,000
Australia: 120,000
Genetic Markers
‘Roughly 42% of genetic markers in the Punjab were of West Asian origin, the highest amongst the sampled group of South Asians’ (1).
The areas included in West Asia now have the following countries in it: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Cypress, Lebanon, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbiajan, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Kazakhastan.
Main Dialects
Punjabi has 28 dialects (PU, Patiala), the following 12 are recognized by Language Department of Punjab, India.
1. Pothohari, 2. Jhangi, 3. Multani, 4. Dogri, 5. Kangri, 6. Pahari, 7. Majhi, 8. Doab, 9. Malwai,10. Powadhi,11. Bhattiani,12. Rathi
Major Religious Groups
Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Christian
Gurumukhi, Persio-Arabic/Shahmukhi, Devnagri

Fauzia Rafique

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punjabi_people
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overseas_Pakistani#Canada
3. http://www.advancedcentrepunjabi.org/intro1.asp
4. http://iaoj.wordpress.com/2008/09/15/punjabi-becomes-official-language-of-indian-punjab/
5. http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/analysis/language/allophone_cma.cfm
6. http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/Products/Analytic/companion/lang/highlights.cfm
7. http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Punjabi_language
8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Toronto_Area
9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Canada
10. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punjabi_language
11. studentsoftheworld.info

Contact Uddari