What Sindh taught me, an Indian about Pakistan
by Devika Mittal (India)
As a North Indian and Delhite, the first place in Pakistan that I imagined and felt a connect with was Lahore. I would also hear about the similarities between Delhi and Lahore. The famous line “Jine Lahore ni vekhya o jamiya e nai” was another reason for my fascination and focus on and around Lahore.
The second place of my fascination was Karachi which I heard, was similar to Mumbai. Like Mumbai, I heard it was far more cosmopolitan than Delhi and Lahore. I had also read that Karachi is called the city of lights. But my knowledge about Karachi and Sindh remain quite limited until I got into my mission of exploring to educate Indians about Pakistan. This was as part of my association with Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an Indo-Pak Friendship Initiative wherein we conduct discussions and workshops with Indian and Pakistani students and break their stereotypes and misconceptions about life and people across the border.
One of our focus areas is to challenge the homogeneous picture of Pakistan and Pakistani culture that most Indians uphold and vice versa. In our interactions with Indian students in schools in different cities of India, we have seen that students regard Pakistan to be an entirely Muslim, Urdu-Speaking Country. They have very less knowledge about the rich religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity that Pakistan has and boasts about. It was in this context to educate that my research began and I came to explore Sindh which I now describe as the land of great harmony.
The only thing that I previously knew about Sindh was regarding our shared historical pride – the Indus Valley Civilization. As a history enthusiast, it was and is my dream to visit Mohenjodaro. My love and desire was limited to this Harappa period until recently when I traced how Sindh continued to be rich post-Harappa. Sindh witnessed rule by different dynasties of diverse ethnicities. The soil of Sindh seems to have absorbed the beauty of diversity and to have become fertile with it.
I was mesmerized to explore the beautiful, diverse monuments and shrines that make up Sindh. I was happy to know the rich religious diversity that Sindh not only comprises but boasts about. A Sindhi Muslim friend told me how a Sindhi Muslim marriage is quite different from the traditional Muslim marriage as it is an integration of Hindu and Muslim marriage rituals. It is a Sindhi marriage.
The Sindhis may be Hindus, Muslims, Pathans or Balochs but the prefix “Sindhi” is crucial and unites them all. The Sindhi culture is an integration of diverse beliefs and cultures. It is unique and cannot be tied to one religion. Sindh has been a land of great sufi saints like Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar and others who preached about the beauty of diversity and cultural harmony. The dhamaal response that Sehwan and Sindh led by the iconic Sheema Kermani gave to the inhuman Sehwan attack last year restored faith not only in the power of Sindh, the land of Sufis but through it, in the power of peace.
I was surprised to hear about the amazing Mithi. Known as the town where “a Hindu fasts and Muslim does not slaughter cows”, Mithi is an inspiration for the world to know that diversity is to be treasured, not feared.
The beautiful ajrak which is an important Sindhi identity also speaks of the rich history of this land of harmony. Ajrak is traced to the Indus Valley Civilization and forms an important part of the Sindhi culture. The ajrak is presented as a mark of respect and hospitality to guests and in this way, symbolizes the Sindh, its history and culture which welcomes and integrates all.
For me, as an Indian, Sindh speaks of the side of Pakistan that the world in general doesn’t know and should know and even learn from.
Devika Mittal is a PhD student and the convener – India of Aaghaz-e-Dosti. She tweets at @devikasmittal
Posted on December 3, 2017, in Articles and tagged ajrak, Hindus in Pakistan, lal shahbaz qalandar, mithi, Sehwan qalandar, sindh, Sindhi cultural day, Sindhi Culture Day, sindhi in Pakistan. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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