Friday, October 29, 2010

Dhol, Dhamal and Shah Jamal

Baba Shah Jamal was born in 1588 CE. His father, Maulana Abdul Wahid, was also a renowned religious scholar and belonged to the family of Qazi Jamalud Din Badshahi, a famous Kashmiri family. Shah Jamal belonged to the school of Qadiriyyah and Suhrawardiyya and came to Lahore in 1617 CE. He lived in Ichra (transliteration: Itch-Ra) at the time of Mughal emperor Akbar the Great. The saint died in 1671 CE and was buried near Ichra. The area has been named Shah Jamal in his honour. The Tomb of Shah Jamal is the tomb of Sufi Saint Baba Shah Jamal. There is a masjid built around the tomb which incorporates a graveyard.The tomb is more than a simple shrine, providing shelter, food and solace from the vagaries of everyday life.

At the foot of the stairs leading up to the tomb, there is a majlis - which is like a regular urs, every Friday morning (from midnight onwards) - a tradition that has been going on for hundreds of years. Dhol is played with devotees (dervish or fakir) dancing in a trance also known as 'dhamaal'. The famous Pappu Sain is the central attraction performs on the dhol.

This performance, every Thursday night/ Friday morning, is attended by people from all walks of life - students, government officials, musicians both domestic and international, models, common folk - in short everyone. The environment is very friendly and safe. It is encouraged that people wear simple and plain clothes and come well covered in respect for the shrine. Attendees usually smoke cigarettes or drink a special drink prepared from Hashish, as the tradition has been. Not all attendees smoke hash and neither are they expected or asked to. However it is tolerated. Many a times Pappu Sain has stopped his performance angry at the fact that people have forgotten the reason for coming to the shrine and instead concentrating on indulging in hashish, etc.

 Photography: Afzal Abbas


  1. MR. Shiraz Hassan is extemly gifted writer, wish he would write some epic seriese with life in lahore and the amazing times the city has seen. beautiful article and it leaves one asking for more.

  2. Shiraz do impress by his writing and more by choice of what to write on...
    I want shiraz to write about two cities of Lahore and Amritsar .. Once called Luv-Kush (Sons of Lord Rama )of India.. (Lahore got its name from Luv ). Sad Amritsar is neglected still .. I think some research on it is needed ..
    Or even Lahore-Delhi similarity ..

  3. very nice write up and photography!