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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Kaahe ko byaahi bides ~ Khusrau


Weddings are not complete without the wedding songs in any community.
“Kaahe ko byahi bides” in Braj dialect by Amir Khusrau  is an extremely popular wedding song in the northern Indian subcontinent. There is hardly any wedding where this song is not sung by the women. Since these verses are passed on from one generation to another by word of mouth, every singer picks and chooses different stanzas and sometimes with variance in vocabulary in the verses. I have tried to collect the different verses, and there may still be other lesser known verses too. Shall appreciate if you will share if you have any different ones in the comment box.

It is a plea from a daughter to her father explaining how she is one of the dispensable objects from their household. Through metaphors, though seemingly simple, she makes a gut wrenching comparisons with herself.  Every stanza of the song merits a deep appreciation of that comparison in a different way.

 

Khwaja ji,
Sun li hamre jiyara ki peerh,

Ankhiyaan se bahe hai neer.

Khwaja  listen to the pain in my heart,
While from my eyes flow out tears. 

Kāhe  ko  byāhe  bides?  
Arre  lakhiyā`  bābul  more?  
Kāhe ko byāhe bides?  

Why did you marry me off to a alien land? 
O’my wealthy  father,
why did you part me from you?  

Hum to bābul torey, bele kī kaliyā`.  
Arre  ghar-ghar  mānge  hai`  jāye.
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides. 

 
We are just flower-buds from your garden,
Every household  asks for us.
O’my wealthy father,
Why did you part me from you?

Hum to bābul tore angan kī chiṛaiyā.
Arre chuge, piye, urr jāye.
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides.

We are just birds from your courtyard
We peck on food, drink and then fly away
O’my wealthy father
Why did you part me from you?  

Hum to bābul tore, khūte kī gayīyā`. 
Arre jid haanko hakjaaye.  
Areh  lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahi bides.

We are just your tethered cows,
we have to go wherever you drive (send) us.
O’ my wealthy father
Why did you part me from you? .

Tākh bhārī me`ne guṛiye` jo chhoṛī.
Arre  to chhoṛā  saheliyo`  kā sāth.  
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides. 

I’ve left at home alcoves full of dolls,
and parted from my childhood friends too. 
O’ my wealthy father
Why did you part me from you? 

Mehala`  tale  se  dolā  jo  nikalā.
Are  bīran  ne khaayi  pachhād.  
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides  

When my palanquin passed beneath the mansion, 
My brother fainted and fell. 
O’my wealthy father,
why did you part me from you? 

Doley ka parda utha ker jo dekha
Na babul na babul ka des reyy
Lakhi babul morey
Kaahe ko byaahe bides?

When I lifted the veil of the palanquin
There was neither father, nor fatherland,
O’my wealthy father
Why do you part me from you?

Bhaiyā ko diyo bābul mehala do mehale.
Areh  ham  ko  diyo  pardesh  re.  
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides

You gave, two-storied houses to my brother
And to me, you gave a foreign land.  
O’my wealthy father,
why did you part me from you? 

Ghar se tou kayila hum ke vida,
Arre Jiyara se na kariyo judaa,
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides

You are sending me away from home,
Separate me not from your heart,
O’my wealthy father,
why did you part me from you? 

Khusrau kehat hai`, Aiy merī lāado.  
Arre  dhan  dhan  bhāg  suhāg  re.  
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides. 

Khusrau says, O my darling daughter –
May your marriage be blessed with everything.  
O my wealthy father,
why did you part me from you?

 

There are multiple classical and folk versions sung by countless singers. Few of my favorites are here:

 

 

A different and very interesting version I found is this sung by Habib Painter >

Waise tou dastoor hai ye purana,
Pii ki nagariya hai dulhan ko jaana
Kehtey  hain Nabi aur Khusrau ka kehna
Doley ka parda utha ker jo dekha
Aya paraya des reyy, ache babul more
Kaahe ko byaahi bides, ache babul more…

 

Going Home~ Creating safe space is not a rocket science.


It is dark, and quiet,
She is alone,
She is young and beautiful,
Yet she is spontaneous and warm
Because she feels safe.
Doesn’t that feel good?
Whether you are a man or a woman,
to see a fellow human feel secure in your company?
Age, place, dress, time do not matter,
Secure and safe space is everyone’s right.
Can you give that space menfolk?
Yes, you can, and you must.
I know womenfolk will have that space one day,
And I know that day is not too far.

Creating safe space for women
Is not a rocket science.
Its not just possible,
but is very simple
Watch this:
A lovely short film by Vikas Bahl #GoingHome

Sadeqain, the legend~ a special feature in Rung Festival at ROM


Sadeqain needs no introduction to South Asians and to art connoisseurs the world over.

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Born as Syed Sadeqain Ahmed Naqvi  in Amroha, India in 1930, Sadeqain rose to became the most accomplished painter and calligrapher Pakistan has ever seen.

A self taught painter,  who still beholds the world with an awe by his quality and volumes of his artwork. It is estimated that Sadequain painted more than 15,000 pieces of artwork consisting of murals, paintings, drawings and calligraphies.

A man who possessed incredible passion and energy for art, donated most of his works to many friends and places. Though priceless as art treasures, his paintings stand a worth of over $1 billion now.

He is credited to have brought a renaissance, ( the reawakening) in the art of Calligraphy. Calling himself a faqir, and belonging to a family of calligraphers he considered calligraphy as a divine gift to him.

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Asked many times about when did he begin painting, he often said he did not remember how early he started painting. In one of his interviews he remarked, “Perhaps I must be moving my fingers to paint in my mothers womb too.”

His murals cover an area larger than the murals created by Michelangelo and Diego Riviera combined.

The mural titled “Saga of Labor” located at Mangla Dam is credited to be his largest work (approximately 180 x 35 feet). Saga of Labour is Sadeqain’s tribute to the working men and women since early life on Earth. The mural illustrates mankind’s journey from food gatherer to the development of agriculture, handicrafts and machinery. Beginning with Iqbal’s verse on Farhad, this majestic mural ends with Iqbal’s reference to other worlds beyond the stars. It is known to be one of the largest murals in the world.

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Sadeqain painted on the poetry of Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz.

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He was also a poet, who composed Rubaiyat (quartains),  then inscribed, and illustrated them. There are over 200 such illustrations collected in Rubaiyat-e-Sadeqain.

A recipient of numerous national and international awards like  Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Pride of Performance, Sitara-e-Imtiaz, Australian Cultural Award, and Gold Mercury Award, he  won the first prize at the prestigeous Laureate Biennale de Paris.

Sadeqain was described by Le Monde, Paris in 1964 as,  “The multiplicity of Sadequain’s gifts is reminiscent of Picasso.”

He painted till the last days of his life. When he passed away in 1986, he was worjking on the “Arz-o-Samawat” (Earth and the Heavens)  for the ceiling of the Frere Hall, Karachi. With 100 panels spanning an area of 3,200 square feet, Sadeqain could only complete 87 of them.

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Sadeqain was immensely popular in India and his work is currently graces many locations in India including Delhi, Aligarh, Benaras and Hyderabad.

His painting are the prized possession of New York Metropolitan Museum, Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Museum of Modern Art in Paris, and many other locales.

Dr Salman Ahmed, Sadeqain’s nephew has formed Sadeqain Foundation in 2007  with the mission to Discover, Preserve and Promote Sadeqain’s immense works.

I ask him what does he mean by discover Sadeqain’s work?

He responds that the painter was extremely generous and gifted away thousands of works to friends and places where he painted. Hence alot of his art sits with individuals, and many of their heirs do not understand the value of it, or are unable to maintain it. Moreover in the words of Anwar Maqsood, “Sadeqain is one painter who has painted even after his death.” implying that a lot of fake  artwork has been created attributed to him. He envisions to create a Museum of Sadeqain’s art.

We at Rung Festival at ROM were fortunate to have two panels of the original mural by Sadeqain on May 31, and June 1, 2014. The mural called Pakistan was painted by Sadeqain in 2 weeks at a Pakistani Expo in Lusanne, Switzerland in 1966. The mural depicted the cultures of various provinces of Pakistan. In 1975 they were brought to Canada for a Pakistani Expo, and since then 7 of the 9 pieces of the mural reside in the Pakistan Embassy in Ottawa.

The exhibit became the focal point of all visitors to Rung Festival.

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Information & pictures: Courtesy Dr. Salman Ahmed. Sadequain Foundation USA.

The Flawless Purse: Dilemma of Consumerism


In style she clutched a glossy purse,
Tight between her hand and her chest,
Protecting it from falling or
From being scratched,
From the pointed necklace
Around her own neck.
She had saved for years,
And dreamed of even longer
To own this branded gem.
She holds on to it firm,
Yet all tender, all protective,
Like a beautiful relationship,
Between two souls,
Knowing how hurt,
The purse can get,
When there are bruises
And that the purse
shall never be the same,
if held back after it falls.
So precious, and so priceless,
She finally owns a flawless dream.
But oh for the flawed souls,
They come and go in our lives.

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In a gentle way, you can shake the world ~ Gandhi


Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,
“It made a difference for that one.”

The story is authored by Loren Corey Eiseley a highly respected anthropologist, science writer, ecologist, and poet.

Moral of the story in Gandhi’s words: In a gentle way, you can shake the world.

Saying it poetically:

If you deny
the power of
one tiny effort,
Light a candle
in the dark,
And watch
the small flame
defy & define
the darkness.

(Inspired from a quote by Anne Franke).
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The secret wish of every status quo is, it impatiently awaits to be broken. Don’t believe ! Give it a try.

Ashure’ : Noah’s Pudding


Ammi called me early in the morning on Friday, the day of Ashura( 10th Moharram). Ashura commemorates the day of the battle of Karbala for Muslims.
I knew why did she call that early, as it has been a regular practice since years, I have lost count of
“One request beta.”
“Yes Ammi.”

I knew it but still wanted her to say it.
“Please don’t play music today on Ashura.”

This is all she expects from me. But she does a bit more than just not listen to music. One of her routines is to cook a pot of Khichra( Haleem) and not let anyone touch it, or munch any of the ingredients till the Niyaz is done.

South Asians make Haleem on Ashura, a complete food with multiple ingredients in one: whole wheat, lentils, rice, barley, and meat with a host of rich spices in a lengthy procedure.

Along the same lines, the Turks make a sweet Haleem, called Ashure or Noah’s Pudding. The ingredients vary from 7 to 10 to 12 varying from whole wheat, beans ( red and white), chick pea, to dry fruits including figs, peaches and nuts like almonds and raisins.

There are multiple legends associated with it.

It is cooked on the day of Ashura ( 10th Moharram) by all communities in Turkey across different sects: Sunnnis (Balkan Sufis), Shias, Alevis and Kurds.

Ashure is then distributed to all in the neighborhood in small bowls, after performing prayers for health and harmony.

Alevites fast for 12 days, and break it on Ashura with this special dish Ashure. Alevis prepare it with 12 ingredients in their version of the dish. They refrain from killing animals or eating meat in these days of fasting.

There is also a different but popular legend of why it came to be known as Noah’s pudding. According to the legend, it was the day when Noah’s Ark came to the banks of Ararat and Noah’s family cooked a dish from all ingredient leftovers in the Ark.

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As I asked a Turk friend to confirm my list of ingredients, she added:
“The most important ingredient is the ‘Intention’ and the ‘Will’ to make this dish. In Turkish we say ‘Niyet Etmek.’

Asure – Noah’s Pudding
Ingredients
(can be found at any Whole Food Markets or Middle Eastern Store) –
• 1 cup of barley whole wheat
• 1 can of chick peas,soaked & boiled
• 1 can of white kidney beans
• 3/4 cup of black dried currants & raisins
• 3/4 cup of almonds/pistachios
• 6 dried Turkish Figs – cut into small quarter
• 6 dried Turkish Apricots – cut into small quarter
• 2 cups of brown sugar ( or plain white sugar)
• 1 lemon zest or orange
9– 12 cups of cold water/4 tsp rosewater(optional)
Condiments: salt/cloves/cinnamon sticks
Garnishing: Fresh pomegranate

Preparation:
One day Before: Soak 1 cup of barley whole wheat in 3 cups of water the night before. This will allow the barley to soften.
Day of:
1. Drain the soaked barley, pour into a deep cooking pot fill with 8-10 cups of cold water leaving about 2-3 inches of the top. At this time add in, sprinkle some salt, add in the cloves and cinnamon sticks.
2. Over a medium to high bring the pot to broil fior 30-40 minutes. The barley will have cracked open and have become white and soft to touch and taste.
3. In the mean time into a small sauce pan, boil the black currants and in a cup of cold water. Once the color of the water turns dark, drain the currants through a sieve.
4. Once the barley has softened, add in the washed chick peas and kidney beans and stir.
5. Add in the rest of the ingredients – the drained currants, raisins, apricots, figs, and almonds, stirring each time you add in an ingredient. Let this mixture boil for 8-10 minutes.
6. To thicken fast, in a cup of cold water mix the 4 tablespoons of corn starch, leaving no lumps. Add the corn starch into the boiling barley mixture and give it a thoroughly stir. *the corn starch will act as a thickening agent.
7. Add brown sugar to your liking, and again stir thoroughly, continue cooking over medium heat and allow the sugar to dissolve.
8. Finally add in the zest of the lemon or orange and the rose water and let cook for a 5-7 minutes.
9. Let cool for about 15 minutes, ladle into serving bowls. Top with cinnamon, nuts and pomegranate seeds.
Ashure can be served warm, at room temperature or cold.

Ashure is a vegan dessert too.

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Ashure served with a traditional touch:

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Kabir & Bulleh Shah- the need of our dark ages.


Depressed and dejected with the ever rising religious extremism, intolerance and hatred in the world at large, helplessness over powers oneself. The only ray of hope left are the few shining stars in this dark sky that shone on our lands several centuries ago. Their golden words still need to be heard and heeded by one and all.

Kabir from India and Bulleh Shah from what is now Pakistan are two voices that spoke of peace and love beyond beliefs and borders. They were shunned in their own times, but if they were reborn now, they would not find much has changed from those days.

Reminscing their poetry, I dare to use them on painting a silk scarf.

The scarf background is black, which represents the dark ages of extremism, intolerance and bigotry that we currently are going through.

The golden messages of the verses are scribbled in golden ink, The verses chosen  relate to the abundance of  knowlege, in this era of information revolution, but the information that still fails to convey the message of peace and tolerance that it should accompany.

The languages have been reversed,
Kabir written in Urdu and Bulleh Shah in Hindi so that both sides are able to read them.

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Bulleh Shah here says:

Parh parh aalim faazil hoya, kadi nafs apne nu parheya ai nayi,
Ja ja werda mandi maseetey, kadi man apne nu wareya ai nayi.

( You read bookes, became learned, but never read (compassion in )your own conscience,
You visited temples and mosques, but never visited (the love)in your own heart.)
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Kabir says:

Pothi parh parh jag muwa pandit bhaya na koi,
Dhaayi akher prem ka parhe to pandit hoye.

{The whole world read books after books, but no one became learned,
Read two and a half words of love ( peace and compassion), to be a learned}

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The peace symbols in the middle of the silk scarf are crisscrossed by chaos and confusion prevalent in our times.
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The edges below the verses represent the hearts interlinked through love and peace, if only we heeded the verses in spirit.

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It was heartening to see Kabir’s message of love and peace ( coincidentally the same verses that I was scribbling), being presented in another art form, called Dastangoi. I dedicate this piece and the blog to this wonderful  Kabir presentation. 🙂