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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

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SINDHI CULTURE


The Sindhis are peaceful, hardworking, hospitable, open-minded community. They have build up the image of Indians abroad as a prosperous and dependable people. They are free from inhibitions of caste and creed. In Sindhi Temples you will find the images of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna placed, side by side, with those of Shiva and Durga and Guru Nanak. The Sindhis are cosmopolitan in their outlook. Someone said that today in India it is difficult to meet an Indian: every one belongs to one province or the other. The Sindhis are the only Indians in India. The Sindhis are an enterprising and industrious people - full of the spirit of faith and courage. They know the subtle psychology of influencing the customer. 'Sindhi merchants' rightly said an Englishman, know how to "hypnotise the customers".

SINDHI CULTURE


The Sindhis are peaceful, hardworking, hospitable, open-minded community. They have build up the image of Indians abroad as a prosperous and dependable people. They are free from inhibitions of caste and creed. In Sindhi Temples you will find the images of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna placed, side by side, with those of Shiva and Durga and Guru Nanak. The Sindhis are cosmopolitan in their outlook. Someone said that today in India it is difficult to meet an Indian: every one belongs to one province or the other. The Sindhis are the only Indians in India. The Sindhis are an enterprising and industrious people - full of the spirit of faith and courage. They know the subtle psychology of influencing the customer. 'Sindhi merchants' rightly said an Englishman, know how to "hypnotise the customers".

SINDHIS OF LAST TEN CENTURIES


From the people born in Sindh in last ten centuries, who had most significant effect on religious, social, political and cultural history of not only Sindh but India as well; some prominent personalities are mentioned here. While this list may not be complete by any means no omissions are intentional.

In the beginning of 11th century, Mirkh Shah the fanatical ruler of Thatta ordered the Hindus to embrace Islam. Hindus collected en masse at the bank of Sindhu Nandi and prayed to Lord Vishnu's Avtar of water-Varun Deva for a savior. Legend has it that emerging from the river Sindhu, Lord Varun Deva blessed Hindus and consoled them by announcing that he will be born in Ratan Lal's family in Nassarpur to deliver them from the oppression. In year 1007 Udero Lal was born to Ratan Lal and Devaki. Many miracles happened there after. Mirkh Shah along with his minister Yusuf finally conceded defeat apologized, repented and sought forgiveness from Amar Lal Udero Lal. He taught unity, love and harmony between the two communities. Since then Hindus pray Varun Deva's Avtar as "Jhoole Lal Sain" and Muslims pray as "Zindah Peer"- The Living Saint.

Sindhis are no doubt proud of their Avatar "Jhoole Lal Sain" who preached the secular principle of peaceful coexistence a thousand years ago. The birthday of Shri Udero Lal Sain is celebrated as "Sindhyat Day" where ever Sindhis live. This day is also very significant as it marks the beginning of the new moon, the first month Chaitra known as "Chet" of the new year as per "Vikram Sambat" the calender observed by Sindhis since the days of Vikrmaditya the Hindu King of India.

Cheti Chand is a very auspicious day for Sindhis. On this day Bahrano Sahib and Sindhi cultural programs are arranged. Sindhis worship Udero Lal with slogan of "Ayo Lal - Jhoole Lal". Procession is taken out to the river front or sea shore, people dance and sing along the way. The Sindhi folk dance called "Chhej" is performed with the procession. Bahrano Saheb is immersed in water along with rice and sugar prasad called "Akho". It is a custom to sing Lal Sain's Panjras and Palav to seek his grace. This great cultural heritage, after partition of India was re-enthused in Sindhis by the dedicated effort of Dada Ram Panjwani who was Professor of Sindhi from Dayaram Jethmal (D.J) College of Karachi and later Jai Hind College of Bombay.

About one and a one half century in the middle of 12th century, "Lal Shahbaz" of Sehwan became the first Sufi saint of Sindh. His shrine stands today where India's King Vikramaditya is believed to have worshiped Shiva in 50 B.C. Lal Shabaz is also believed to have preached love and tolerance in Sindh. Many Sindhi Sufi Saints were born in Sindh.

In post partition India the famous Sindhi song "O' Lal Muhinji Pat Rakhijain Bhala Jhoole Lalan; Sindhuria Ja, Sehwan Ja, Sakhi Shahbaz Qalander Dama Dam Mast Qalander" is sung to the glory of the two great preachers seeking their benign protection.

PLACES


Area of Sindh is about 54,000 square miles. Districts Sukkur in the North is adjoining Punjab. Karachi and Thatto in the South are two coastal districts along the Arabian Sea. Some major cities of Sindh are: Karachi, Thatto, Hyderabad, Mirpur Khas, Nawabshah, Khairpur, Sukkur, Shikarpur, Larkano, Dadu and Sehwan.

Karachi port was the largest and most advanced town of Sindh at the time of partition. Karachi Port had its anchorage situated in the sheltered lagoons between islands of Manohora and Kiyamari. It had a character of a fastest growing cosmopolitan city with contributions from various communities such as Parsees, Gujratis, Punjabis, Sindhis and Britishers. In 1947 the Capital of Pakistan was set in Karachi and later it was detached form Sindh. The Government of Sindh was shifted to Hyderabad.

LANGUAGE





Sindhi language has gone through transitions with the history of Sindh. Original script was descendant of Prakrit, and Sanskrit. Devnagri Script was used before Britishers took over the rule of Sindh in 1843. Perso- Arabic Script was developed by Britishers for Sindhis and imposed as official script in 1853.

To day the Sindhi population living in minority status in various parts of India and else where in the world, lacks the availability of Sindhi language education in the main stream curriculum of the local schools and colleges. Naturally the new Sindhi generation has neither the opportunity nor the incentive to learn their own language. Currently even in Pakistan the official language in Sindh is not Sindhi but Urdu.

This alone could be the single biggest blow to the survival of Sindhi community. Devnagri script has received success in small number of schools located in the pockets where Sindhis started their new life as refugees. Sindhis have since scattered all over India and other continents of the world where Sindhi is not taught in either Perso-Arabic or Devnagri script.


The question therefore arises, will Sindhi language survive as a viable language in Arabic or Devnagri script excepting Sindh and some parts of India? What will happen to Sindhis who are spread all over the world? Is there an easy solution? Can Sindhi be saved from extinction by introducing once again a new script. For a change could we consider adopting Roman Script. Our new generation learns Roman Script all over the world. The computer knowledge is fast becoming inseparable part of future education and daily life. This field too is dominated by English Language.
Should we not therefore adopt Roman Script to teach Sindhi to our youth? Transcription in Roman script using Sindhi phonics could be a matter of research and development by expert educationalists. The Britishers devised present Perso-Arabic script for us in 1853. Why should we not evolve a Roman Script for our dear Sindhi ? It may be the only logical and practical solution for a Border less Sindhi Nation of tomorrow.

Survival of language is fundamental requirement for identity and success of a community. Parents must cultivate the habit of speaking with each other in Sindhi so as to create a healthy example for younger generations. Sindhi families should proudly speak and greet each other in Sindhi at parties and all social functions. In the global society of 21st century, Sindhi should not become a naturalized second class citizen without language, culture and identity of his own.

HISTORY OF SINDH (Cont..)


Talpur Amirs came in power from 1782 A.C. till 1843 A.C. They were defeated by Britishers who annexed Sindh to Bombay Presidency. During Talpurs period many forts and outposts were built along the frontier.

During British rule the introduction of railway lines, creation of Sukkur Barrage for improved irrigation system as well as eradication of Hurs the armed bandits brought about safe living conditions. Education at college level also became possible with Sindh being attached to Bombay University in the Bombay Presidency.

India's independence from British rule in 1947 resulted in unfortunate partition of the country with Sindh falling into Pakistan the Islamic State. Sindhi Hindus were forced to abandon their ancestral home land along with all their valuable possessions. It was the tragic saga of sufferings with dreadful physical, moral, mental and economic predicament of a very large peace loving Sindhi Community. The saddest part of the story is that Sindh was the only state which was wholly given away in partition unlike Punjab and Bengal. Sindhi Hindus gave the greatest sacrifice in India's freedom. Little they knew that taking active part in the Quit India Movement during the freedom fight against the foreign rule they will turn out to be the refugees in their own country

HISTORY OF SINDH


Sindhu River the main life stream of Sindh has contributed to the economic well being from the ancient times. Ports and towns have flourished in its delta allowing navigation and trade from ocean to the inland up through Punjab. Arabs from west regarded India as heaven. Sindh being the rich territory at the frontiers was therefore invaded numerous times by plunderers and greedy empires of various aggressors from Greece, Turkistan, Persia, Iraq and Arabia.

The ancient history of Sindh can best be summarized as Vedic times through 3000 B.C., there after the Aryan culture followed by a gap and subsequently the rule of King Jaydrath in 1300 B.C. The religion of Arabians prior to Islam was very much similar to people of Sindhu Valley, pantheistic. When the Arabs captured Sicily in 53 H, they got hold of the gold idols, which they sold to the king of Sindh.

Alexander the Great's invasion (326-325 B.C.) faced hostile encounter and resistance in Sindh. This was greatly influenced by Brahmins who had persuaded the Sindhi King Sabbas to stand up and fight. To the horror of the local people, Alexander had a whole lot of Brahmins slaughtered. However he was so impressed with the quality and spirit of the Sindhi Brahmins that he captured and kept ten Brahmins with him. It is known that these ten Brahmins imparted wisdom and philosophy of Sindh to Alexander by answering many of his questions.

Greeks had noted that Sindhis were tall and slim and wore white leather shoes with thick soles "Juthies", to appear taller. Vanity in Sindhis is neither recent nor imported! Alexander had himself found Sindhis "healthy and temperate and partaking of community meals". Obviously the system of "langer" did not start with Sikhs. Greeks have one thing in common - Sindhi "bhoonda or buja" - the peculiar gesture of denunciation with open outstretched hand. In Greek it is known as "the moudja"which comes very close to buja. Was this a gift from Sindhis to Alexander or the other way around ?

From 100 B.C. to 100 A.C. Sindh came under the influence of Buddhism which was embraced by Emperor Kanishka whose third successor Vasudeva was King of Sindh. His coins have been found in Mohen-jo-daro. Around 200 A.C. Vedic influence reemerged in the upper classes and Buddhism became weaker. There after Sindh again saw variety of invaders till Gupta Dynasty took control of India's rule in 450 A.C. In 6th century Rai Sahasi the King of Sindh, was brother of the king of Chittor in Rajasthan. He was succeeded by Brahmin King Chach. He annexed Multan and fixed the border of Sindh with Kashmir and Iran. He had deodar and poplar trees planted along the frontier.

Chach had two sons Dahir and Daharsiah. Dahir ruled upper Sindh at Alor and Daharsiah ruled lower Sindh at Brahmanabad, near modern Nawabshah. Between 638 A.D. and 711 A.D. the Arabs launched as many as fifteen attacks against Sindh. In last attack of 712 A.D. Mohammed Bin Qasim succeeded in defeating King Dahir. It was on the evening of Thursday the 16 June 711, the saddest day in the History of Sindh when Sindhi King died due to treason in the local camp. After two years Arabs influence remained confined only to the port Debal and the coastline. Dahir's son Jaisiah assisted by Bappa Rawal of Chittor (A.D. 739-753) defeated the Arab army of Salim who surrendered and signed peace treaty that Arabs would never attack Sindh. It is significant that in the succeeding centuries Arabs never did attack Sindh.

Soomras the indigenous population of Sindh, a Rajput clan took over the rule by middle of 11th century. Names of 21 rulers for nearly three centuries are recorded in the history. During this period Sindh saw patriotism and folk literature. Soomras were Hindus with some Muslim influence, who became nominal Muslims while retaining their Hindu culture.

Folk stories of Rai Diyach and Lila-Chanesar are famous which have been made immortal by Shah Abdul Latif the Mahakavi of Sindh in his immortal compositions "Sur Sorath" and "Sur-Lila-Chanesar".

However the Sindhi epic of the period par excellence is the "Umar Marvi". Marvi reminds us of Sita in her confinement in Lanka. Interestingly enough ,both Ravana and Umar, old villains, were gentlemen enough; they did not force their will on their captive beauties. The Umar Marvi is an all abiding source of inspiration for Sindhis and Sindhyat in Hind, Sindh and all over the world.

From 1500 to 1700 A.C. Moghuls ruled Sindh. During this period Thatta was Capital for lower Sindh. In later part of 17th century Kalhoras gained power in the upper Sindh and subsequently took over the administration of whole Sindh. During this period Sindhi poetry reached its climax in the compositions of Shah Abdul Latif.


FOLK LORE


What exactly does the word folk lore connotes? In its simplest manifestation it symbolises the culture of the unsophisticated, the expression, mostly in song and dance, of the customs, tradition manners, aspiration, almost the entire social and religious life of the people at all levels of the common man.

There is no country in the world, which has not been enriched by folklore, for folk-lore, despite the fact that it has not been looked upon as the intelligent endeavour of the literate, is in the point of fact, the very pulse-beat of the national conscience manifesting itself in song, dance, riddle, proverb and even in superstition. Every Sindhi likes HOJAMALO. The song, which pertains to the BAHRANO, is a very famous song of JHULE, JHULE, JHULE-JHULELAL. It is only a Sindhi who can interpret the spirit of these songs, though any one who listens to them will, almost without exception, be carried by its rhythmic beat like no other rhythmic beat in the world.

Like the Folk songs, the folk dances are equally rhythmic and equally enchanting. These may be rugged and simple in their rhythmic beats. But they are full of life and vitality. There is a dance JHUMIR that is a counter-part of the dance of Laada in songs.

CHHEJ


Chhej is performed only by men. It is some what similar to Dokla Ras of Kathiawar, but considerably more intricate in pattern & steps and rhytmic beats. The instruments used are the SHARNAI and the DUDUL i.e. Shehnai and the drum. Another dance which is performed only by men is DHAMAL, performed by Fakirs and disciples of a particular shrine at the time when the flag of the shrine goes up. This is a dance which is characterised by a sort of religious frenzy and has, therefore, a very fast tempo. Nagharo (a big drum) instrument provides both the rhythmic beat and the tempo for the Dhamal.

There are many other dances, though the BHTAGA may be called the King-pin of them all. This is properly speaking a dance-drama enacted with the aid of song, Kalams etc.

LADDA


Ladda Songs which are sung before the actual weddings, the very lilt of which suggests careless abandon and gaiety that mark a wedding. Sindhis are very famous for showmanship, and on the occasion of the marriage of the son, they will not hesitate to spend thousands of rupees only on decorations, music dance and photographs, movie and on video shootings, They call a Laada party of famous singers and enjoy the music one day before the marriage and even on Janiya (Thread ceremony) etc. The famous Laado SONU BAJUBAND, LADO PANHIJEE KUNWAR LAI AANEDO AND DHIKH JE RAAT LADE MUNDIYOON GHARAYOON, MOOML MANA NA KAR MARUN SA, ALLA SON JO RUPAYA etc. Many other Laddas are so famous among the Sindhis that on the occasion of the marriage, specially ladies and relatives are invited on Laada ceremony where they offer the GHOR of rupees on the bride-groom whose marriage is to be performed. There are many folk songs, and many dances are composed. We cannot ignore our humorous songs. To get back however to Sindhi song, which does not treat only of love, there are some double meaning FOHIRAS too.

BHAGAT


Bhagat is an original and pure art form of Sindhi music and dance. This is one art form which can be truly called as Sindhi folk and meant for the masses. The mere announcement of a bhagat performance brought people from near and far off place. This song-n-dance extravaganza called for expertise in both forms namely singing and dancing. One without the other was no good. Mikes and sophisticated sound systems being not-existent in those days, it is rumoured that the bhagats of yesteryears could give many a Michael Jackson of Elton John a run for their money for not only was their singing soulful but it was loud and clear enough for a person sitting a quarter of a kilometre away from the singer.

The performances were usually held in the nights and lasted till the wee hours of the morning. Requiring a minimum of two or more performers from a band of six, this folk form was highly interactive and weaved in out from pure folk and devotional songs to narratives to stories thus giving wholesome entertainment rather infotainment to the crowds. Two-three of them are usually good singers with one being the lead singer and the other two known as peechhads or boliaraas (back-up singers). The lead singer or bhagat wore a chher, jamo, pagdi and kundal with a bright tilak on the forehead and sung in a style little bit similar to those of qawals. The crowd used to sit on two sides much akin to a fashion show with a ramp running into the audience. The bhagats used to sing and move back and forth in the crowd in the centre aisle. The back up singers usually stood in the back and faced the bhagat who would start of on a line with the back up singers interjecting with a simile or the latter half of a couplet.

Bhagat Kanwarram


Among bhagats, Sant Kanwarram was one of the most legendary performer who went on to become s saint for Sindhis. His soulful voice once brought back a dead child to life, a miracle many have seen with their own eyes. Especially known for his rendition of the Sur Prabhati (which is sung early in the morning), Sant Kanwarram was popular not only amongst the Sindhi Hindus but Muslims also. Besides Bhagat Kanwarram there were others who had carved out a niche for themselves. Notably amongst them were Bhagat Naru, Bhagat Jadaram, Bhagat Leelo (adh Kanwar), Bhagat Tharu, Bhagat Parso, Bhagat Motan, Bhagat Sobho, Bhagat Dharmu, Bhagat Dilo, Bhagat Shewo, Bhagat Dwaru, Bhagat Ghansho and Bhagat Khanuram. The back up singers sometimes dressed up as female characters also and they were most known by their nicknames. Notable amongst them were 'Shaman Guddi', 'Lal Chhuri' and 'Jalphatako'. The bhagats were in great demand usually at melas, annual darbar and dargah functions and sometimes for marriages also.

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Thatta

Club Culture And The Sindh Club


The club culture was one of the most conspicuous symbols of the exclusivity of the British Raj. Although an increasing number of Indian locals were prosperous and well educated, they faced segregation and discrimination when the European mercantile class was concerned. Clubs were designed as a retreat for the white sahibs who could use the exclusive environment to consult one another in matters of dealing with their common interest in India and recreate without having to deal with the native population. Here they could discuss their government's policies and ensure that their implementation resulted in profit for the government and themselves.

The Sindh Club was also meant to be an exclusive institution for European gentlemen and was off limits to the local population. A demeaning sign installed on the gate of the club reportedly read "Natives and Dogs not allowed". Even after the creation of Pakistan when the prime minister of the country used to live across the road, the club was still almost exclusively used by Europeans. The first native member was admitted to the Sind Club on August 15th, 1947, when Quaid-e-Aazam Muhammad Ali Jinnah took oath of office as a Governor-General. However, it took almost two decades before a Pakistani, Masud Karim became chairman of the Club in 1965.

Culture


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Tourism


Sindh Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) was established in 1992 under the companies Act, 1975. A board of directors was constituted for providing guidelines and making policy decisions for promotion of tourism in Sindh. Though the archaeological sites are with federal Government, but tourists expect from STDC for facilities of transport, logding boarding proper guidance and information.

During last two months long term as well as short terms plan have been prepared and action on some of them has already been taken.

The Board of Directors of STDC has been re-constituted with Chief Minister as Chairman and Minister Culture as Vice Chairperson.
The Scheme of Up gradation residential facilities at keenjhar, sehwan and Larkana have been got approved at a cost of Rs. 160 million. The work will start in year 2008-09.
Construction of additional block of 12 huts at keenjhar lake has been speeded up. It would be completed by December, 2008.

About Culture & Tourism


Introduction

The Sindh Culture Department was started with creation of Culture Cell in Education Department in 1976. It was given status of an Administrative Department in 1988.

Presently 12 Libraries, One Museum , One Art Council, One Studio, One Cultural Center are functioning under the Department. During last two months detail discussions have been held with concerned officers on spot visit have been made and requirement of various instructions have been examined and assessed. Keeping in view the resources and time frame available in current financial year, short time schemes have been launched and long term schemes have been planned. Result oriented targets have been fixed and on their achievement, visible changes are emerging.

The Department has its activities in only those districts where libraries or other offices of the department are located. For close coordination among different field offices at Hyderabad and Sukkur, with Deputy Director Culture as head have been established in May, 2008.

An Advisory Board is being constituted with eminent scholars writers artists and knowledgeable persons for advising the department on matters of culture and tourism.

The Land and Economy:


in general Sindh corresponds to the lower Indus River valley, stretching from north to south in the form of the letter 'S', physiographical, Sindh can be divided into the western highlands of the Khirthar Range and the Kohistan area, rising to more than 6000 feet (1,830 meters); the central valley, with eastern and western valley regions; and western valley regions; and the delta region; and the Thar desert in the east. The climate is of the subtropical desert type, with scanty rainfall averaging 5 inches (125 mm) yearly.
As in the rest of Pakistan, the economy is predominantly agricultural and depends almost entirely on irrigation. The principal source of water is the Indus River, on the which there are three irrigation dams ('Barrages') in Sindh: the Guddu, on the Punjab border; the Lloyed (Sukkur), and the Kotri, farthest south. The Sukkur Barrage controls a canal system whose total length including subsidiary water courses, extends 50,000 miles (80,000 km), or twice the length of the earth's circumference. Sindh's principal crops are wheat, rice, cotton, oilseeds, sugarcane, vegetables and fruits. Sheep, cattle, camels, and poultry are raised, and there is fishing industry. Manufacturing industries are concentrated in Karachi, Hyderabad, nooriabad and Kotri. They produce textiles, cement, cardboard, chemicals, electric power and supplies, rail-road equipment, machinery and other metal products Karachi, Pakistan's chief port, has an oil refinery and also is the center of printing and publishing.
The artistic and cultural heritage of Sindh is reflected in its superb, examples lacquer ware, mirror embroidery,
textile and exquisitely painted tile work.