Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dai Anga's Tomb

Zeb Un Nisa aka Dai Anga, was a wet nurse of Mughal King Shah Jehan and was well respected in the royal family. The tomb of Dai Anga is known as the Gulabi Bagh. Her family was closely associated with the Mughal empire. Her husband Murad Khan served Emperor Jahangir as Magistrate of Bikaner, and her son Muhammad Rashid Khan, was the best archers in the kingdom, and died fighting in the service of Shah Jahan's eldest son Dara Shikoh. Shah Jahan highly regarded Zeb Un Nisa.

The tomb of Dai Anga is located in Begumpura, Lahore

Photo Credits: Shiraz Hassan

Friday, March 4, 2011

Colors of Gumti Bazaar

Gumti bazaar of the walled city has an unique identity due to its historic and cultural importance. It is one of the oldest markets of the walled city of Lahore. However, mere historical facts are unable to answer questions like “when was this bazaar established and by whom and why was it named so?”,

It is said that it was established during the Moghal Era and by the time it established as big market.

Located in the centre of walled city of Lahore, Gumti bazaar is the centre of attraction for different reasons. This market is famous for Meena-kaari, Gota Kinaari, clothes, leather-items, wooden fabrics and artificial jewelry.

Beautiful pieces of artificial jewelry are available here within the range of Rs 500 to Rs 5000!

Gumti bazaar is located in the centre of Walled city of Lahore, so, one can enter into this market from different directions. Entering from Roshnai Gate or Bhaati gate and passing through Paani-Wala Talaab or from the direction of Lohari gate, you can reach this place by passing through Lungey Mandi.

Entering the market from Paani-wala Talaab, Ice-cream shops welcome you. As you move on you will see the leather goods shops on both sides. Keep on moving till you reach Chowk Gumti Bazaar. The bazaar is divided into two parts. Moving straight will take you towards Rung Mehal, another famous market. But look at the left side and you will see the true colors of Gumti bazaar. The lane is a bit narrow here, but glittered and bright due to colorful lighting.

Here, you can buy glass bangles, artificial jewelry, wedding dresses – basically a shopper’s paradise for the ladies. Specially, women prefer to do their pre-wedding shopping here. The very next bazaars are the Sooha bazaar and the Awaami

Before partition, Gumti bazaar was an area mostly populated by Hindus. The residental areas around Gumti bazaar are known as Galli Kali Maata, Koocha Beli Ram, Koocha Harjis Roy and Koocha Hanuman. There was only one Muslim family who used to live in Koocha Hanuman before partition. It was the residence of Molana Salah-uddin Ahmed, a writer and editor of the literary journal “Adabi Dunya”.

Rehana Bano, an old resident of Gumti bazaar says “Before partition, Hindus used to live here and I was living here with my grandfather during that period. I still remember that I was the only Muslim girl in that particular area. Hindu and Sikh children used to play in our yard, because it was quite wide and open. During games, I was also asked to swear by Kali Maata, and I did it many times”

Besides that, Gumti bazaar has also remained home of several important personalities. Indian film actor Om Parkash was born in Koocha Beli Ram and spent his childhood in the narrow streets of Gumti bazaar.

Gumti Bazaar is also famous for its painters. Prestigious painter Abdur Rehman Chughtai was one of them. He started his career as a wood pattern maker here. Then moved to Mayo School of Arts (Now National College of Arts) and carved his name in the history of colors and arts. Painters Master Ameer Bux and Meeraan Bux also belonged to the Chughtai family. They used to live in Koocha MusawwiraaN of Gumti bazaar. Later Master Ameer Bux was appointed as the head master of Municipal Technical College, Amritsar and Meeraan Bux joined Mayo School of Arts. Delhi’s Rashtrapati Bhawan (President’s House) was also designed by Meeraan Bux. Famous Sikh artist Naqaash Lahora Singh was also a resident of Gumti bazaar. His paintings are displayed in Patiala Museum.

As Gumti bazaar was a Hindu populated area, there were several Temples and Shivala buildings located here. Shivala Pandit Radha Kishan was known for its beautiful architecture. It was located near Syed Mitha Bazaar. Kali Maata temple was also another well known place of worship nearby. The street around this area is still called as Kali Mata Street. There was also a temple between Sooha bazaar and Gumti bazaar named as Krishna temple. Krishna temple was well-known for its beautiful and eye-catching architecture, which was known as ‘Sundar Mandir’ (Beautiful temple). As time passed, things changed, Hindu and Sikh residents left the area before and after the partition and now these temples don’t exist anymore, and one has put on a lot of effort to locate them.

It is really sad that most of the old buildings including temples and Havelis have been demolished and commercial plazas have replaced them.

Gumti bazaar is one of the typical Lahori bazaars, bursting with colors and lights.

Here are a few images of Gumti Bazaar.

Photos by: Afzal Abbas

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Two Faiz celebrations in Lahore

By Ammar Aziz

Lahore’s Mall road was as crowded as always. Behind the modern age vehicles – coming violently from the both sides of the road- and amongst the old silent trees, I saw him, walking very slowly on a footpath. The old man was holding a little red flag. Those ragged dusty clothes, lengthy gray hair, wrinkled mystic face and small piece of scarlet; there was something very dramatic about that old man whose appearance reminded me of the realist Soviet paintings. He was heading towards the building of Alhamra Art Complex which was covered with the life sized posters of the Socialist poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The poet’s centenary celebrations were about to begin and the car parking was almost full.

The old man stood there for a short while and looked at the smiling photograph of the poet. He then entered the main gate and headed towards the hall. One could find a lot of ‘cultured’ men and women, walking with an attitude towards the hall. All of those well-dressed, well-spoken people started entering the hall, but the old man kept standing there. The guards were not letting him enter. He remained there until the gates were closed and the hall echoed with the radical words of Faiz, Hum Dekhaingey – We shall see, We shall see…but the old man never saw anything! He could not afford to buy a ticket for a thousand rupees to celebrate Faiz day!

What an ordinary incident, isn’t it? It did not make any difference at all. It rained heavily that evening. The cars kept passing on the mall. All the people came out of the hall cheerfully. They were excited to see the VIPs from Bollywood. I heard, an aged gentleman saying, ‘We’ll drink tonight till late. Its Faiz’s birthday after all!’ But the old man kept sitting there on stairs. ‘They asked to buy the ticket. I don’t have a thousand rupees’, said the poor working class admirer of the working class poet. He added, ‘I came from Faisalabad to celebrate the 100th birthday of our beloved poet.’ Rahmat was an oppressed power loom worker, who – like thousands of other people – could never afford to enter that high-class intellectual gathering dedicated to the proletarian poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

The centenary celebrations of the man who fought against class-system all his life was clearly divided into classes. The next day was supposed to be an ‘Awami Mela’ known as Faiz Peace Festival. This event is being organized every year by the Progressive Writers Movement with an affiliation of the left-wing organizations at the open air theater of the Lawrence garden. But unlike every year, this time the organizers (Faiz’s family) – who were the organizers of the elitist event mentioned above – decided to organize the Peace Festival as well. It was open to all so it was truly filled with thousands of people, the workers and activists, who are the real family of Faiz. PTV was given the exclusive rights to cover the event.

Hundreds of red flags, Socialist slogans, working women and men – the ambiance was extremely radical. The program began with a couple of folk performances and later on pop singers started performing. They sang everything, the songs of love and breakups, the songs that commodify feminity, the songs that Faiz never wrote and never sang! Faiz’s struggle was not only against the unequal distribution of wealth but also against the limitation of art for the sake of art. His poetry was the poetry of life and his words were the celebration of people’s struggle. There was no one at the Faiz Peace Festival to sing those songs that have been the anthems of resistance since decades. Instead, the whole day was dedicated to lovey dovey songs and cheap attempts of entertaining the ‘poor ignorant masses’. The people kept waiting till late but there was no one to reflect real essence of the poet.

As Faiz said, ‘ab yahan koi nahin koi nahin aay ga..’
Imagine! Different Faiz days for different classes! An intellectually mature event, with performers like Tina Sani, and speakers who reflected the real Faiz, only for a certain class and saucy songs, cheap comedy for the people who understand and can relate to the poet more than the drawing-room intellectuals. Who has a right to underestimate the common people like this? The organisers of Faiz festival killed the centenary celebrations, that are being celebrated around the world with great respect. They valued Faiz Ahmed Faiz for Rs. 1000/person! I wish they could take some time out from the U-fone and Coca-Cola campaigns or they should not have claimed to own the poet.

However, the real family of the poet, the oppressed working class, continue to live and celebrate the poetry of Faiz in their daily lives.

Originally Posted at Pak Tea House