Tag Archive | Pakistan

Unsolved Secrets of Indian Stepwells*

Unsolved Secrets of Indian Stepwells*

Historic structures such as temples, mosques and palaces are scattered over a vast territory of India. Often lose their original relics of ancient infrastructure, called “step-wells» (stepwells). Once upon a time, these underground structures were estimated in thousands.

Initially, these wells were dug in the ground – so people could easily access to the water. Over time, the stepped wells have become increasingly complex in geometry, and from the modest holes turned into hard engraved wells in step Hindu temples with ornamental columns, and ladders shrines.

These old wells or ponds, water in which was located at a depth of more than thirty steps down, often arranged multistoried with water wheel in order to lift the water to the first or second floor. They are most common in the western part of India and other more arid regions of South Asia, extending to Pakistan.

Construction of ancient wells at that time was of primarily utilitarian value – storage in the reservoirs of ground water in case of drought. Subsequently, they generously included architectural ornaments because the main guardians of the water were women, who prayed and offered gifts to the goddess of the well. Careful and sacred attitude to wells ensure their preservation for centuries.

Chicago journalist Victoria Lautman first described this architectural marvel. She devoted most of the last five years of traveling in India to find and photograph as many wells as possible. After 2015, she resumed the trip to India to find an additional 60 wells, bringing the photos of more than 200 wells, which she personally visited, described and photographed.

After centuries of neglect, some ancient wells are in a dangerous state or disappeared altogether, while others are carefully maintained by local authorities or living near communities that recognize their value and have a good will and finances, to restore them.

In an effort to preserve this wonderful heritage of India, Victoria Lautman made a visual tour of 75 of the most unique and interesting holes in a new book called “The Vanishing Indian Wells (The Vanishing Stepwells of India). The book includes not only original photos of objects, but also the experience of the author of each of them, including the exact coordinates of the location of the wells.

It is hoped that sooner or later a renewed interest to the ancient Indian wells will appear, as well as there is funding for their recovery.

Sources*

Related Topics:

Saving the Lost City of Mohenjo Daro*

Between the Builder and the Architect: Frederick II, and the Castel Del Monte

The Crumbling Ancient Texts That May Hold Life-Saving Cures*

The People and the Crystal Cave

Olmecs: The People behind the Long Count were not Mayans*

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How Muslims and Hindus of Tando Adam came together in Ramadhan*

How Muslims and Hindus of Tando Adam came together in Ramadhan*

By Manoj Genani (photo credit)

Fasting through the month of June, Pakistanis across the nation had to deal with a scorching summer, while trying to abstain from all the delicacies they would later enjoy on Eid. Even though the majority of the month went by without incident, the last few days of Ramadhan proved a grim prelude to what should be a festive period.

It is no secret that certain elements in Pakistan want to divide Pakistanis based on their caste and creed through spreading fear and vitriol. However, locals in the small city of Tando Adam proved that despite a difference in their beliefs, consideration and understanding of each others cultures and traditions is what Pakistan needs to exist as a diverse society.

Coming together for Iftar, the Hindu and Muslim communities of Tando Adam showed that they can coexist in a multicultural city. The Hindu Panchayat hosted an evening vegetarian Iftar party and distributed Eid gifts and goods to 350 impoverished families.

A young man lays the table for the guests for the evening’s diverse Iftar party

 

The vegetarian menu included plenty of fruits.

 

Hindus and Muslims join hands in a collective prayer towards unity and religious harmony

 

Hindu religious leader Raju Baba feeding his Muslim compatriot after hearing the Adhan

 

“This is our home. We are one, we have to respect each other and take care of each other’s beliefs & values,” claimed Raju Baba, a leader of the Hindu community, adding that they have been living this way for centuries, with “peace and pluralism.”

Before the Iftar party women of all ages from low income households gathered to collect Eid gifts being distributed by the Hindu Panchayat and Odero Lal Welfare Organisation. Unable to afford Eid supplies on their own, the women walked away content with food, clothes and shoes for themselves and the family.

Women sat patiently as they waited for the distribution of Eid supplies

 

Women of all ages showed up to the distribution ceremony

 

Some ladies were grateful as they hadn’t been Eid shopping for a couple of years due to low wages or unemployment.

Elderly women who would normally have to work extra hours to afford the gifts were particularly content.

 

Women were able to walk away, knowing that they would be able to celebrate a colourful Eid

 

The local Hindu community gathered these gifts, fearing that low income families would be unable to celebrate Eid like the rest of the nation.

“We collected funds from the Hindu Panchayat and delivered Eid gifts to impoverished Muslim families,” said Dileep Kumar Kohistani, an organiser of the Iftar party.

Ghulam Nabi Nizamani from the Social Welfare Department was of the view that religious issues were at a low in Sindh and people were reluctant of these kind of activities due to extremism in Pakistan. However, the reemergence of such events is key for the revival of religious harmony.

At the end of the day the communities were lauded for their efforts of showing a peaceful and harmonious, multicultural society

Source*

Related Topics:

Iraqis Travel to Mosul to Celebrate Eid in a Show of Solidarity*

I’m a Pakistani Hindu. So what Business do I have Missing Eid?

Muslims Across the World Celebrate Eid Al-Fitr*

Jeremy Corbyn Praises Muslim Heroes of Grenfell Tower fire in Eid Message*

Syria’s More Confident Assad gives Eid Prayers in Hama*

These 5 People don’t Spend Eid with their Families to make the Occasion Happier for Us*

God-consciousness After Ramadhan

I’m a Pakistani Hindu. So what Business do I have Missing Eid?

I’m a Pakistani Hindu. So what Business do I have Missing Eid?

By Nisha Pinjani

Last summer during Ramadhan, I shared the Shan Masala Eid commercial like Pakistanis all over the world. The ad showed two brothers spending the occasion away from home. For the purposes of the advert, a simple plate of Sindhi biryani was the balm to their feeling of homesickness.

This year, I found myself in the characters’ shoes.

Away from Pakistan for my graduate studies in Honolulu, Hawaii, I was scrolling through Facebook when I found the usual Eid-related posts flooding my timeline.

Unending stories about tailors and broken promises, event pages for chand raat meet­-ups, and the perpetual confusion on whether the next day would be Eid or another Roza (followed promptly by jokes at the Ruet­-i-­Hilal committee’s expense).

Soon enough, WhatsApp groups were abuzz with ‘Chand Mubarak’ wishes. While my friends in Karachi made plans to grab chai on the eve before Eid, I was literally stuck on an island. Sitting alone in my dorm room, I couldn’t help but feel blue — I missed home, my friends and my family.

I found myself thinking back to the Shan commercial. But while the ad’s protagonist and I were experiencing similar homesickness, we were quite dissimilar. He was a Muslim man from Pakistan; I am Pakistani Hindu woman.

What business do I have missing Eid?

Growing up as a Hindu in an Islamic republic is full of contradictions. My mother is often hesitant and wary of my Muslim friends. A bit strange, considering she is more than happy if I invite them to our home.

Perhaps this perplexing attitude is passed down through generations. As a young girl I loved listening to my grandfather’s partition stories. He would tell us incidents where Muslims went door-to-door killing any Hindu in sight (I’m sure Muslims grow up with similar stories of cold-blooded Hindus).

But then, he would also talk about his Muslim neighbours. The ones who protected our family, who made a human chain around our house when the riots broke out.

The obvious takeaway here was that good and bad people exist everywhere. But my grandfather’s stories carried an underlying warning: you can get close to Muslims, but remember that you are not one of them (and they know it too).

Following this tradition of mixed messages, every Ramadhan, many Hindus living in Pakistan fast. My mother herself happily sets an alarm to wake my sister up for sehri. She prepares an elaborate sehri, and reminiscent of the Thadri festival — where Hindus fast — her fried lolis make an appearance at the table.

No one else in my house wakes up with them, but we make it a point to join in for Iftar, and jokingly try to convince my sister that eating five minutes before the adhan is acceptable.

And then comes Eid. At least in Pakistan, Eid and Diwali have much in common. Both are marked by an abundance of mithai. It is customary to wear new clothes if one can afford them, and like Eidi on Eid, it is traditional to give presents on Diwali too. Every year, my family welcomes our friends over for Diwali, and come Eid, we visit our Muslim friends’ houses.

Yet, each time a story breaks of another Hindu girl being kidnapped and forcefully converted, my interactions with male Muslim friends start causing my mother distress. “Be careful around Muslim boys,” she warns me. It is frustrating, but I can see where she is coming from.

When I heard news of the Hindu reporter in Karachi who was forced to drink from a separate glass, my blood boiled. Sitting thousands of miles away, I was instantly transported back to my childhood when something similar happened to me (and I am sure, many religious minorities like me): a classmate had refused to share utensils with me because I was Hindu.

Children’s acts are a reflection of what they are taught at home. Many years later, seeing this news was a bitter reminder that even among supposedly educated, well-knowing adults, prejudice is alive and well.

The white in the flag

I have long known that despite having the same nationality, my Muslim friends back home and I are different in many ways.

During Pakistan Studies classes in school, teachers would make irresponsible claims about how Hindus were single-handedly responsible for the loss of Muslim lives. Reduced to a ‘cow-worshipper’ during the lectures, I would suddenly be othered, excluded, bullied.

As I grew up, my ‘otherness’ interestingly became exotic. The same identity I had been bullied over now became my ticket to being a ‘cool kid’— since I had access to all the firecrackers (thank you, Diwali), and invitations to holi parties.

As we grew up underneath the layers of systemically taught hate, my Muslim friends and I began to find common ground, and developed a better understanding of each other. I would sneak them into our temples so they could get a glimpse of my world, and accompany them to Mughal­ era mosques to get a sense of theirs.

I still come across a simpleton or two who wants me to prove my Pakistani-ness. Every time Pakistan plays a cricket match against India, there is always that one guy who wants to know, “How come you’re not supporting the Indian team instead?”

Thankfully, more often than not, my friends take over the task of shutting such bigotry down.

I keep thinking back to my family enjoying their long Eid break in Pakistan. We are a huge family, and most of my cousins are older, working people. On Diwali (a working day for most Pakistani Hindus until recently) we are usually only able to manage a dinner, however, the longer Eid holidays are quality family time for us.

During Eid, we get together at a farmhouse or the beach. We laze around playing cards, barbecuing, and catching up on gossip. Eid mornings mean waking up to seviyan and other breakfast treats, with my uncles over, watching the news and discussing the current state of affairs in Karachi.

Away from home, I find myself missing it all. Whether it is the memory of spending time with my family by the waves; or the calming sound of the adhan; or Eid plans with my friends to get mehendi.

Home, after all, is home, no matter how dysfunctional.

And so, on the first day of Eid in Hawaii, not unlike the characters in the Shan Masala advert, I picked up a packet of seviyan from a desi store here. I looked up the recipe online, managing to burn half the packet, and cursed myself for never waking up early with my mother to help out.

But my friends came over and made custard and fruit salad. I ended up spending the day recreating what Eid has always been about for me back home in Pakistan: good company, laughter, and a satisfied stomach. It was heartening watching my American friends try seviyan for the first time, while assuring them that the delicacy is indeed supposed to look semi-charred.

Source*

Related Topics:

Muslims Across the World Celebrate Eid Al-Fitr*

Jeremy Corbyn Praises Muslim Heroes of Grenfell Tower fire in Eid Message*

U.S.-led Coalition Killed Nearly 500 Civilians in Syria during Ramadhan*

These 5 People don’t Spend Eid with their Families to make the Occasion Happier for Us*

Eid Mubarak- final Ramadan Reflection 2011

These 5 People don’t Spend Eid with their Families to make the Occasion Happier for Us*

These 5 People don’t Spend Eid with their Families to make the Occasion Happier for Us*

With Eid around the corner, please take a moment and wish well those strong folks who will be working during the holidays, instead of spending time with their families.

  1. Our nurses

Nurses, along with doctors, are always on call during Eid. With a shortage in paramedical staff, nurses barely get time to wish anyone Eid as they are wrapped up in looking over patients while on call. One really owes to them because in times of panic, both the patient and their family are usually comforted by the friendly, caring nurses.

2) Our pilots

There are those traveling to be with their families for Eid, but then there are others who are taking them there but aren’t able to do the same. Many of us dreamt of being pilots when we were young because of how cool it sounded. Its way cooler that they provide such a service to us, expecting no appreciation in return.

3) Our firefighters

Years ago a fire took place on the first day of Eid ul Fitr at a dawat gone wrong. The day was saved as almost 30 firefighters reached the spot. While we’re grateful for such heroes, do we ever wonder how they were so ready? Because instead of being at their own family dawat, they were on duty, waiting to spring into action.

4) Our army and police personnel

A huge shout out to our men and women in uniform! These fighters sacrifice their time with their families (and sometimes their own lives!) so that we can have our Eid festivities in peace.

5) Our ambulance drivers

Unfortunately, an ambulance on the road with its signals blaring is not a unique sight during Eid. Ambulance drivers and their paramedics are always on call and prepared. We remember Edhi sab and all the work he did for our country and we should also be thoughtful of all who work in his name, like many ambulance drivers, who respect the values of Ramadhan and Eid as the season of caring for those truly in need.

Wall’s picked up on this insight to pay tribute to these unsung heroes of our nation, who sacrifice time with their family for all of us. Their TVC titled “Sorry Abu” revolves around the story a young boy named Ahmed who misses his father immensely during Ramadhan.

The TVC shows the son is obviously upset as he gets to see other families getting together for iftar, but he can’t spend time with his father as he is so far away.

However, he realises that his father, who is a doctor, is actually putting into practice the true meaning of Ramadhan by helping those out in need. The boy ends his letter by apologising to his father for not understanding before and sending him a token of appreciation to let him know how proud he is and how he will always be supportive of him.

The TVC really puts things in perspective as we wonder how many times we have taken our own family for granted, or how many times we have heard a friend complain about ‘being stuck with the family’ during holidays. We never realise how for many people, it is a luxury to be able to see their family.

Source*

Related Topics:

The Last Day of a Testing Ramadhan Many Muslims Prepare for ‘Eid*

Moonlight and Nature’s Rhythms*

Developing the Muslim Self Through Martial Arts

A Tragic ‘Eid for Thai Muslims*

Why Pakistan Must Withdraw from the Saudi Military Alliance*

Why Pakistan Must Withdraw from the Saudi Military Alliance*

THERE may be many strands to the latest crisis engulfing the Middle East, but there is only one conclusion for Pakistan: this country cannot afford to get embroiled in conflict in the Middle East.

With Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa in Saudi Arabia, the urgent, high-level diplomacy by Pakistan should have a dual focus i.e. help defuse tensions among the various state protagonists, each of which Pakistan has friendly relations with, and withdraw from the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance.

The bizarre and patently false assertion by a section of the Turkish state-run media that the Pakistani parliament is considering sending thousands of troops to Qatar underlines the risks involved in a conflict in which the media has become a weapon.

The possibility of false stories and propaganda setting off a diplomatic crisis for Pakistan is very real and the Foreign Office has done the right thing by quickly and emphatically denying the possibility of Pakistani troops being sent to Qatar.

While Pakistan’s leverage may be limited and its diplomatic heft in the Middle East far from obvious, it occupies a unique and potentially useful position as it has friendly ties with all the Middle Eastern and Gulf countries embroiled in the current crisis.

From Saudi Arabia to Qatar and from Egypt to Iran, Pakistan has genuinely friendly and stable ties with all sides — precisely the kind of committed and relatively neutral stakeholder that can act as an interlocutor to help rescue a region from a greater crisis.

But if a crisis-fighting role is not something Pakistan can realistically take on, there must be an emphatic signal sent to all sides: Pakistan values its relations with all countries and the Pakistani national interest requires it to stay neutral in the current crisis.

That should not be impossible, but it would require Pakistan to suspend its military participation in the IMA and withdraw retired Gen Raheel Sharif from his command of future IMA forces.

Simply, recent events in the Middle East have shattered the assumptions on which Pakistan’s original inclusion in the IMA was premised.

The IMA was supposed to be a counterterrorism force and there was no threat greater than the militant Islamic State group that Muslim-majority countries could jointly fight.

But the Saudi leadership has made clear that it primarily wants to contain Iran and, now, cut Qatar down to size — effectively destroying any possibility that the IMA can ever become a platform for all Muslim-majority countries to come together to fight militancy and terrorism.

Saudi Arabia is and will remain an important ally of Pakistan.

It is the responsibility of friends to stand by one another in times of crisis.

But responsible friends must also be unafraid to speak the principled truth and protect themselves from colossal errors by the other.

Withdrawal from the IMA has become essential.

Source*

Related Topics:

Israel Backs Saudi Arabia in Confrontation with Qatar*

Saudi Arabia Cuts Ties with Qatar for Not Wanting War with Iran*

Terror Attacks in Iran Were Joint Saudi-Israel-U.S. Project*

Hacked Emails Show Top UAE Diplomat Coordinating With Pro-Israel Think Tank Against Iran*

Russia and Iran Escape the Petro-dollar*

Britain Confirms U.K-Made Cluster Bombs Used by Saudi-led Forces in Yemen*

A Livid Saudi Arabia Threatens Further Chaos in the Region*

Shab-i-Barat: The Night of Forgiveness*

Shab-i-Barat: The Night of  Forgiveness*

Faithful on Thursday night observe “Shab-i-Barat” with great religious reverence and fervour across the country.

With the setting of the sun, the faithful started gathering in mosques to offer special prayers for peace, progress, and prosperity of the country besides seeking forgiveness for their sins.

An illuminated view of Badshahi Mosque decorated with colorful lights on the eve of Shab-i-Barat.

 

Women release oil lamps and candles in the water of Ravi river, seeking forgiveness and repentance.

 

The people also organised several gatherings and Mahafil-i-Naat to achieve Allah Almighty’s blessing in the world and the life hereafter.

Religious scholars in their sermons highlighted the teachings of Islam and various aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) so that the followers could lead their lives in line with the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Family members light lamps and pray at a grave of their relative. —AP

 

A woman reads the holy verses besides a grave of her relative at a graveyard in Karachi. —AP

 

Special prayers were offered to get rid of the menace of terrorism besides showing the right path to disgruntled people, playing in the hands of anti-state elements.

On this occasion, houses, streets and especially mosques were decorated with colorful pennants and bunting whereas at night these were well illuminated by means of electric lights, candles or even oil lamps.

People read holy verses near the graves of their relatives to mark the night of forgiveness. —AFP

 

Besides, people visited graves of their near and dear ones, seeking Allah’s blessings for the departed souls.

Special security arrangements were made for peaceful observance of “Shab-i-Barat”.

People attend a sermon at a mosque in Karachi.

 

Source*

Related Topics:

Layla-tul Bara’at

Prophet Muhammed (SAW) on Ramadhan

Ten Ways to Prepare for Ramadhan From Now*

Ramadhan Journey Across the Desert of the Sinai*

Freedom in Ramadhan*

Working and Staying Sane in Ramadhan*

Last horsemen of Hunza, Pakistan*

Last horsemen of Hunza, Pakistan*

Unlike in neighbouring Afghanistan or Central Asia, where the sport remains vibrant, Khan fears the tradition will die out in Pakistan.─AFP

 

In a remote northern valley surrounded by giant ice-capped peaks, villagers gather to watch a game of Buzkashi, an ancient equestrian sport once seen as a key test of virility that is now struggling for survival.

Baksh Dil Khan, a retired schoolteacher is saddling his horse as his wife sprinkles a pinch of flour over the animal for good luck, worried that the snowfall that blankets the Chapursan Valley will make the day’s match too treacherous.

The burly, moustached 52-year-old is one of the sport’s last two dozen players in this region of roughly 2000 people, which shares a border with Afghanistan to the east and the north.

Horsemen competing for a cattle carcass.─AFP

 

A black goat is led out to the middle of the grounds for the players to inspect. Some pick it up before nodding their approval.

It is taken away, later returning as a headless, disembowelled carcass and is placed in a circle in the centre of the field.

This body is the prize the horseman will jostle over in the game, made up of a series of rounds in which they aim to throw it back into the circle.

Goals are met with enthusiastic shouts of ‘Halal‘ from the crowd, a sign they believe it was legitimately scored.

Horsemen prepare for a traditional game of Buzkashi in snow covered Chapursan village of Hunza Valley.─AFP

 

Buzkashi is a way for players to show off their equestrian skills and manliness, but there are also prizes and cash to secure.

Khan has won Rs4,000, three packs of cigarettes and a cellphone.

“I almost broke my neck for these three packs of cigarettes and I am not even a smoker,” he jokes — he fell twice from his horse during the game.

Unlike in neighbouring Afghanistan or Central Asia, where the sport remains vibrant, Khan fears the tradition will die out in Pakistan.

“It is dying down and there are only half a dozen old players left, the new generation is not taking much interest in the game and we have only around a dozen young players,” he explains.

Now even finding enough horses can be a challenge as many locals have sold their steeds to buy modern comforts, says 38-year-old Taj Muhammad.

“Buzkashi will become an event of the past, a story for our children,” he muses.

In a remote northern valley surrounded by giant ice-capped peaks, villagers gather to watch a game of Buzkashi.─AFP

 

“I will continue to play even if I am the last player, the game should at least survive till my death.”─AFP

 

For Aziz Ali Dad, a cultural anthropologist, the decline of the bloodsport is a sign of Pakistan’s diminishing cultural ties with Central Asia, where the game originated.

In Hunza, it has long been a mainstay of the Wakhi people, who are also found in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Xinjiang in China.

But Ali Dad says the lack of contact between them today means Buzkashi is “on the verge of extinction in Pakistan.” Defiant, Khan vows to ride on, even if others give up.

He insists: “I will continue to play even if I am the last player, the game should at least survive till my death.”

Source*

Related Topics:

Texas Drought: Hundreds of Horses Left to Die

All-Female Militia who Hunt African Rhino Poachers*

Occupy World: Iranian Hunters Decided to Stop Killing Wildlife*

Amazonian Hunter-Gatherers Isolated from Western Medicine Have the Most Diverse Microbiome Ever Recorded*