Saturday, October 06, 2007

Another Pakistan: Lal Shahbaz Qalandar's Festival Audio Slideshow

By Declan Walsh - The Guardian - London, U.K.
Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pakistan's tourism ministry designated 2007 as "Destination Pakistan", the year when tourists were urged to discover the country's sights and delights.

Their timing couldn't have been worse. A military ruler clinging to power, al-Qaida fanatics hiding in the mountains, suicide bombings booming across the cities - in 2007, Pakistan has become a byword for peril and turmoil.

But there is another Pakistan, one the majority of its 165 million people are more familiar with. It is the thrusting software entrepreneurs and brash new television stations. It is the kite flyers and partygoers and the strangers who insist you sit for a cup of tea. And it is Sehwan Sharif.


I joined about 1 million people who come to Sehwan Sharif for three days every year, to mark the death of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, an ancient Sufi mystic. It is one of south Asia's greatest parties.

[The Festival took place from Friday, September 6 to Sunday, September 9. Click and scroll down: http://sufinews.blogspot.com/search?q=GUARDIAN ]

A million people - it's enough to give an embassy security officer a heart attack. Yet I've rarely felt so secure. Impromptu singing sessions erupt by the roadside. People offer strangers a bed, a meal, or a drag from their joint.

Smiles and handshakes are everywhere. Qalandar, a sort of medieval hippy, would have approved. Wandering through this area almost 800 years ago, he preached tolerance between Hindus and Muslims and peace to all men. Legend had it that he could transform himself into a falcon.

One night I met Muhammad Fiaz, a burly bus driver from Gujrat with glitter on his cheeks. He had taken his annual holiday to come and sit at the feet of a pir, or holy man. He brushed off any talk of politics. "Musharraf and his lot are one thing," he said. "This is entirely another".

See the Audio slideshow of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar festival at this link (or click on this article's title)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/slideshow/page/0,,2176124,00.html

1 comment:

irving said...

Ah, Woodstock in Pakistan :) I love it :)) and don't Bogart that joint, hehe.

Ya Haqq!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Another Pakistan: Lal Shahbaz Qalandar's Festival Audio Slideshow
By Declan Walsh - The Guardian - London, U.K.
Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pakistan's tourism ministry designated 2007 as "Destination Pakistan", the year when tourists were urged to discover the country's sights and delights.

Their timing couldn't have been worse. A military ruler clinging to power, al-Qaida fanatics hiding in the mountains, suicide bombings booming across the cities - in 2007, Pakistan has become a byword for peril and turmoil.

But there is another Pakistan, one the majority of its 165 million people are more familiar with. It is the thrusting software entrepreneurs and brash new television stations. It is the kite flyers and partygoers and the strangers who insist you sit for a cup of tea. And it is Sehwan Sharif.


I joined about 1 million people who come to Sehwan Sharif for three days every year, to mark the death of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, an ancient Sufi mystic. It is one of south Asia's greatest parties.

[The Festival took place from Friday, September 6 to Sunday, September 9. Click and scroll down: http://sufinews.blogspot.com/search?q=GUARDIAN ]

A million people - it's enough to give an embassy security officer a heart attack. Yet I've rarely felt so secure. Impromptu singing sessions erupt by the roadside. People offer strangers a bed, a meal, or a drag from their joint.

Smiles and handshakes are everywhere. Qalandar, a sort of medieval hippy, would have approved. Wandering through this area almost 800 years ago, he preached tolerance between Hindus and Muslims and peace to all men. Legend had it that he could transform himself into a falcon.

One night I met Muhammad Fiaz, a burly bus driver from Gujrat with glitter on his cheeks. He had taken his annual holiday to come and sit at the feet of a pir, or holy man. He brushed off any talk of politics. "Musharraf and his lot are one thing," he said. "This is entirely another".

See the Audio slideshow of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar festival at this link (or click on this article's title)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/slideshow/page/0,,2176124,00.html

1 comment:

irving said...

Ah, Woodstock in Pakistan :) I love it :)) and don't Bogart that joint, hehe.

Ya Haqq!