Maghar Charh Gaya Ae

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November 15, 2014

It’s the 1st day of Maghar today. Let me share with you a poem from Fard Faqir (1720-1790)’s BaaraN Maaha.

BaaraN Maah (or Maaha) is a genre of Punjabi poetry comprising of 12 poems expressing the state, circumstances, plight of separation from the beloved in each of the 12 months of the year. With the changing weather outside, the poems chronicle the changes that happen inside: anticipation, agony, and melancholy.

We’ll share other poems from this BaaraN-Maaha in the first week of every upcoming month.


Mela Baba Bulleh Shah, 2014

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August 26, 2014

Pictures from Baba Bulleh Shah‘s death anniversary celebrations. Taken on the last day of the Urs—August 26, 2014—at his shrine in Kasur.

Bulleh Shah Urs 2014

Bulleh Shah Urs 2014

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Bulleh Shah Death Anniversary Celebrations, 2014

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August 23, 2014

Bulleh Shah’s death anniversary (called ‘urs’ which literally means wedding or union with the beloved) will be celebrated on August 24-25-26 (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday) this year at his shrine in Kasur. Apart from the 3-day festival which attracts a large number of devotees to the shrine, there are two programs that we want to notify you about.

1. Punjabi Khoj Garh, a Punjabi research institute located along a serene canal on the Lahore-Kasur road, will be hosting a Bulleh Shah seminar on Saturday, August 23 from 2pm onwards. Read more »

Folk Punjab Fund for Punjabi Books

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July 21, 2014

Folk Punjab Fund for Punjabi Books is our program to support Punjabi writers and publishing industry. Using the fund, we will purchase a modest number of award-winning Punjabi books every year and distribute them using different channels so that they reach a wider audience.

Although the state of Punjabi publishing in Pakistan is improving in some ways but we cannot call it satisfactory. There are a couple of active Punjabi publishers in Lahore, printing some 50 to 100 books every year. Sometimes they are in the position to offer a compensation to the author, but often the authors themselves have to bear the cost of getting the books published.

In other countries, and in ours too, the government (through relevant departments), purchases a sizable number of copies of new books for the community and college libraries. But since we have been made to believe that the Punjabi language is good for nothing, books published in Punjabi are seldom bought by officials making such decisions. Our program, we hope, will fill this gap.

The following is the list of books we have chosen for the inaugural year 2014. They were all awarded 1st, 2nd, or 3rd positions in this year’s Masud Khaddarposh Trust Awards.

Chup TooN Baad (Ali Babar)
Goongi Pukaar (Tufail Khalish)
Kandh AsmaanaN Teek (Bushra Naaz)
Main Chetar Nahi Chakhya (Khaqan Haider Ghazi)

Aaheen Da Balan (Naveed Anjum)
Glaleecha Unnan Wali (Zahid Hassan)
Kabootar, Banere, te Gallian (Zubair Ahmad)
Parchhaven (Sabir Ali Sabir)

We have already acquired 10 copies of each of these books, which is a small number but good enough to begin with. We will try to extend this to 100 copies in the coming years.

If you’d like to donate to the program, please contact us. All the donations will go towards acquiring more copies of the books or possibly expanding the range of books.

Love in the Month of Harh

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July 12, 2014

Here in Lahore, we are, more than anything, waiting for the month of Harh to end and Sawan to begin. Counting days. Literally.

Anyway, since it’s still Harh, let us share a few lines from a Bulleh Shah poem about “love in the month of Harh”:

Hun kih karan jo aaya Harh
Tan vich ishq tapaya bhaar
Tere ishq ne ditta saar
Rowan akhian karan pukaar

Tere HavreeN!

P.S. We don’t know what does the last line mean. Help us in the comments!

Metaphysics of Punjabi Sufi Poetry

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June 22, 2014

Hast o Neest Hast-o-Neest Institute of Traditional Studies & Arts will be hosting a 2-day lecture series on Metaphysics of Punjabi Sufi Poetry by Dr. Shahzad Qaiser on June 26-27 in Lahore.

Hast-o-Neest is an initiative of Baytunur Trust for the research, study and promotion of traditional art, and culture. It aims to provide an introduction to and a greater understanding of traditional wisdom including sufi doctrine and method, traditional philosophy, metaphysics and cosmology, and allied arts as calligraphy and architecture.

Dr. Shahzad Qaiser has a doctorate in philosophy and is a recipient of President’s Award for Pride of Performance in Punjabi Literature. He has written several books on metaphysics and poetry including ‘Understanding Diwan-i-Farid’ and ‘Iqbal and Khawaja Ghulam Farid on Experiencing God’.

The lecture series or seminar will be held at the Hast-o-Neest premises 31-G, Gulberg II, Lahore from 5:30 to 8:00 PM. For registration, please send in your name, cell phone number, and email address to 0300 847 1855 or

Babu Rajab Ali

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June 17, 2014

One of you recently sent me a video of a folk group singing Babu Rajab Ali’s long poem, titled Aqal da Baag. It’s like his review of Punjab — people, food, customs, professions, districts, and what not. He summed up everything he could think of that was happening in Punjab.

A treasure of immense historical value, it’s sung in a very gripping way. Without instruments, the ups and downs of the their voices make up for the rhythm. Thank you so much, Tejpal.

Babu Rajab Ali I knew Rajab Ali, or Babuji as he was known, but hadn’t read or heard his poetry until now. A friend of mine, a fiction writer, grew up in the same region where Rajab Ali settled after partition. Babuji appears in a couple of his stories. Lost. As someone who’s present but absent. Like a new desi immigrant in the US. Reduced to zero.

Except that Babu Rajab Ali didn’t have a choice, neither did he leave East Punjab voluntarily, not could he go back. Unlike a US visa, you cannot undo a partition. He, they say, never came out of the past. How could he? The man, in 1940, quit a career in civil engineering for the love of Punjabi poetry!

Punjab’s partition didn’t just result in the death of our loved ones, it shattered many a souls too. Beyond repair.