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Rediscovering our Sikh heritage

Published May 24, 2012 02:52pm


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The eastern facade of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Samadhi. It has frescoes of guardian figures that Dr Nadhra Shahbaz Naeem Khan found after scraping thick layers of whitewash. They have since been covered with more layers and lost again. – Photo courtesy Nadhra Shahbaz Naeem Khan for Hosh Media/
The eastern facade of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Samadhi. It has frescoes of guardian figures that Dr Nadhra Shahbaz Naeem Khan found after scraping thick layers of whitewash. They have since been covered with more layers and lost again. – Photo courtesy Nadhra Shahbaz Naeem Khan for Hosh Media/

When I learned that ‘Getting to Know Pre-Colonial Punjab through Sikh-period Frescoes’ was being offered as an actual course at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) last semester, I was ecstatic.

It was my first encounter with the pioneering woman who has made it her life’s mission to document the largely undiscovered subject.

“I was roaming around the Lahore Fort when I came across the Athdara. I got on top of it and started looking around. I found several features that were Mughal but some were very different – a confusing but intriguing mix of materials and motifs,” remembers Dr Nadhra Shahbaz Naeem Khan. This was the moment when her unique journey to documenting Sikh art and architecture in Pakistan began, which in her words, was “serendipity.”

Dr Khan graduated with a degree in graphic design from the Department of Fine Arts, University of the Punjab (presently the College of Art and Design) and completed her postgraduate in the same. Later, she taught at their Fine Arts Department for a few years before working for an advertising agency, and then joined the Lahore College for Women University, where she set up their Department of Art and Design. In 2002, while Dr Khan was teaching Art and Design, the Punjab University announced a PhD programme in Art History. It was then that she says, she just “dived into it” without a very clear concept of where it would lead her.

A visit to the Athdara at the Lahore Fort triggered her destiny and took Dr Khan to Ranjit Singh’s Samadhi to discover and learn more. “That was the day when I silently told myself that this was it - my dissertation was going to be on the Samadhi!”

Dr Khan’s PhD dissertation was a study of the ornamental program of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Samadhi in Lahore. This led her to study other Sikh monuments in Punjab. In the process, she has built an impressive photographic archive documenting some endangered sites –an area that needs more people like her to carry out specialised research given  dire need of preserving and conserving heritage sites in Pakistan.

Performing documentation and research on historical sites in Pakistan is quite an arduous task, considering most of the monuments lie dilapidated, on the verge of being erased from history.

“The day I decided that this was what I wanted to take up as my research topic, I had no clue of what I was getting myself into.” The first difficulties of this long and laborious journey started to surface when failed to find any relevant published or archival work on the subject.

“I did not know where it all started from and except for small accounts by various 19th-century historians who briefly talk about Ranjit Singh; his pillaging of Mughal monuments and his Samadhi being a mix of Hindu and Muslim architectural elements, there was nothing else,” she says, expressing the hopelessness she felt at the time.

All the “desperately needed” material was in Amritsar and getting a visa to visit the land of the Maharaja’s commissioned Golden Temple seemed impossible, until she met Manveen Sandhu and Tripat Bains, two charismatic Sikh women who opened the doors of the city, its research material as well as their hearts to Dr Khan.

Fresco is in Kharak Singh's haveli within the Lahore Fort.– Photo courtesy Nadhra Shahbaz Naeem Khan for Hosh Media/
Fresco is in Kharak Singh's haveli within the Lahore Fort.– Photo courtesy Nadhra Shahbaz Naeem Khan for Hosh Media/

Her voyage of research is a story as unique as her area of research. In the field, she is called the ‘scratching lady.’ Dr Khan says her “scratching project started with Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Samadhi. The interior has beautiful panels of wall paintings and I was puzzled by the fact that the exterior was completely devoid of any.” This made her think that there was a strong possibility that these white washed walls originally may have had wall paintings. But she says it was almost impossible to pinpoint as to where these paintings might have been. She then came across a late 19th-century black-and-white photograph by Bourne and Shepherd showing male figures flanking the northern entrance of the Samadhi, published by F. S. Ijazuddin in Lahore: Illustrated Views of the 19th Century, which led her to discover them being buried under thick layers of whitewash.

In a recent television news report on the Lahore Fort, the reporter mentioned, “And on this side, right outside the Roshnai Gate is Ranjit Singh’s Samadhi. And for those of you who do not know who Ranjit Singh is…” and she went on. I always thought Ranjit Singh’s depiction in our history books was exaggerated. Before I took up Dr Nadhra’s course, I had this image of Ranjit Singh as some bandit, who looted “our” Mughal buildings and ruled Punjab. I have been her student for a year now and every day I learn to see things from a new perspective. I wondered whether she had similar preconceived notions of these things as well?

“I embarked on my own project with these preconceived notions which were dispelled only much later. It happened gradually, as I met people across the border and studied and analysed history written by various historians giving different standpoints,” affirmed my professor.

Dr Khan feels particularly sad at how we, as a nation, have come to view history. “We look at history with lenses coloured with our bias. We need to take them off and bring in objectivity. We need to start owning our heritage. We need to look at it with pride, whether it is the Sikh period, the Mughal or the British. It is all part of us.”

She says we have developed this habit of looking at history from very specific angles. “This is Mughal, so this is ours; this belongs to another religion, so this isn’t. It should not be like this. We are heirs of an ancient culture and we need to understand it. Starting from the Indus Valley, anything and everything in this part of the world is what makes us who we are,” she adds with conviction.

I had never noticed the narratives from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata beautifully painted in the sunken niches of the Sheesh Mahal at the Lahore Fort before I decided to write my research paper on Draupadi – a woman portrayed in the Mahabharata as the epitome of conviction and resilience. And I wonder how many of us visiting the Lahore Fort know what these frescoes mean and signify – the majority probably just takes them as imaginary male and female figures painted merely for decorative purposes.

In Professor Nadhra’s opinion this is one of the major reasons so little is being done to preserve our heritage sites, “there is so little that people are aware of.” Talking about Naunehal Singh’s Haveli, which now functions as the Victoria School, she says, “This reflects our ignorance as a nation.”

“The building needs to be vacated immediately. The school can operate in any of the surrounding buildings or houses,” Dr Khan adds as she laments over the almost faded Sikh monument. She stresses the need for government intervention, as she adds that of course one cannot deprive the students of their school.

The problem, she says, is that we are not trying to look at the long-term benefits of these buildings. “These buildings can become a source of huge benefit for our own people. They are not for one individual. This is important for our own people, every Pakistani. They also need to be familiar with their own heritage.”

Ranjit Singh's Samahadi – Photo courtesy Bushra Shehzad for Hosh Media/
Ranjit Singh's Samahadi – Photo courtesy Bushra Shehzad for Hosh Media/

Talking about the importance of conserving and preserving historical sites, she says that political stability comes when it has to come, but “one needs to bring economic stability and for this you have to work on many levels”. She adds, “This is one level where you can actually earn tonnes of millions for your people. The Sikhs yearn to come to Lahore, to visit their cultural heritage. They would do anything for a glimpse.” Why can’t we take this opportunity and develop tourism, a huge industry that could benefit both individuals and the country, she asks.

Dr Khan believes more people need to be trained in this field, because there is so much to explore and learn. Her course at LUMS is an important step to create awareness but there is also urgency to preserve these endangered sites as they are fast decaying.

Bushra Shehzad interviewed Dr Nadhra Shahbaz Naeem Khan for Hosh Media – a volunteer-based organisation that aims to bring youth voices onto the mainstream media in Pakistan.


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Comments (112) Closed

Akkokhan 26 May 26, 2012 11:08pm
Any Pakistani, Who feels connected to Middle east culture, should see the treatment of Pakistanis in Middle east, who are treated like dirt along with Indians and other ethnic minorities. I have been to India many times as Pakistani and I have always found love, friendship and have enjoyed every moment of my stay. Long live the brotherly relationships of the 2 countries. Akko Khan
Singh May 24, 2012 04:04pm
This was a very interesting read. THough I am not a student of history or religion but knowning about my separated sikh heritage in Pakistan makes ecstatic. I have some friends here from Pakistan, who have promised to bring me pictures of those historial sites. I strongly encourage this kind of work not only in Pakistan but in any part of the world for any culture. Thanks for sharing
Soman May 24, 2012 04:33pm
It was under Maharaja Ranjit Singh that for the first time Punjabis ruled over Pashtuns - before that it was always the opposite.
Pankaj Patel (USA) May 24, 2012 04:25pm
Very educative article about Lahore's archeological sites.Lahore being cultural capital of Pakistan it naturally has many things to offer for a person of history like me.Unfortunately due to security environment it is not possible for me to visit but I wish Dr Nadhara Khan good luck in maintaining these heritage not only for Pakistan but whole subcontinent.
Ahluwalia May 26, 2012 10:30pm
You are correct bro the history is distorted on both sides has been distorted . But the magnitude of distortion is not the same
Jay May 24, 2012 04:35pm
And what about Buddhist and Hindu and Animist heritages?
Irfan May 24, 2012 04:39pm
babu May 24, 2012 04:59pm
please be comfortable with your past to be successful tomorrow
Sam T May 24, 2012 05:09pm
Beautiful. As it is said " if you do not know your past,you do not know your present and never appreciate your future" There are tremendous amounts of historical sites in India,not just the Taj Mahal. Both countries can benefit financially as tourist sites.
fus May 24, 2012 05:13pm
We have to take off the glasses tinted by our religious biasness. This is our heritage and we have to safeguard it for our future generation. It is true that since we only consider buildings, heritage linked to muslims rulers as our own, we tend to let other beautiful heritage destroyed. Thanks for this article and enlighting us with the good job done by Dr. Nadhra.
Agha Ata May 24, 2012 05:54pm
Does the establishment approve of this slow change in the mindset of people? To tell you the truth, people do not need it, establishment does. What a treasure of historical art we have buried under the dirt of our bigotry. History will not and should not forgive us for that. It was so criminal of all of us to make our culture so shallow by being so self centered and ignorant. If this comment of mine is published, it will tell how serious we are in walking what we talk.
Gurdeep Khullar May 24, 2012 07:56pm
This is a marvelous article of scholarrship. We share a common history, language and culture which has been eclipsed by false sense of enmity. I wish more religious tolerance and brotherhood should pervade our two nations. Gurdeep Khullr
Caz May 24, 2012 08:31pm
We need an article on pour Hindu heritage also. lahore was the first city founded by Hindus and was called Loh. The partition is a disaster and must be rectified .
Madan May 24, 2012 08:46pm
Very nice article.There are many more Sikh gurudwaras/shrines and dilapidated Hindu temples of pre-mahabharat era in Pakistan.Their excistence is definitely a source of tourist attraction.
Rizwan May 24, 2012 09:36pm
Working temples/gurudwaras, however, deserve protection. But these old relics of the past - who cares? No one even uses them anymore.
Pradip May 25, 2012 12:21am
Wow Bushra: you have opened a Pandora's box. If you and the Professor were to pursue this too far, the whole idea of two-nation theory will come unglued. Personally, that is what should be done get many to figure out that it is the same blood that flows through our veins across the Indo-gangetic plain.
Sanjay Saksena May 25, 2012 12:24am
People like the author and Dr. Nadhra are exceptions. In a Muslim couintry the idea that anything non Islamic constitutes jahaalat is deeply ingrained.
EQ8RHomes May 25, 2012 12:42am
Yeah, "tons of millions"! Great motivation! Dr. Khan is to be congratulated for her dedication to heritage, esp. in Pakistan, where revisionism is the order -- to establish Islam as the original and the only ideology so people do not "stray" from THE ideology.
Muneeb May 25, 2012 12:46am
“How can we know who we are and where we are going if we don't know anything about where we have come from and what we have been through” ? David McCullough It is a tragedy that a Pakistani will go to any length to prove that his ancestor was some goat herder in Central Asia or middle east. We should be proud of our Hindu and Buddhist roots. Islamic and Sikh traditions just added to this glorious past. We should be really proud of all these traditions.
ifran ahmed May 25, 2012 01:23am
This is Indian heritage not Pakistani.
Krishna Iyer May 25, 2012 02:05am
Once we embrace the fact that we share a common heritage, the root cause for hatred disappears. Allama Iqbal's grandfather was Sapru Kashmiri pandit and Iqbal has spoken many times of his Brahmin heritage. As the author of tarana-e-hind "sare jahaan se accha hindostan hamara he represents a very Indian and not arabic perspective. Islam and muslims have contributed to every aspect of Indian history and culture. Unfortunately vested interests on all sides use the cloak of religious extremism to keep people ignorant and in a perennial state of conflict. The onus is on ordinary people of goodwill to educate themselves and reject the evil of intolerance.
n.qureshi May 25, 2012 02:55am
good job.we need an understanding of our history beyond the mughals.all efforts should be made to increase tourism.learn from our brothers in turkey.
Tamilselan May 25, 2012 03:00am
The only emperor who conquered and ruled Afganistan and his samadi should be maintained for ever
zafarov May 25, 2012 07:57am
This is heritage of the land and people of Punjab. The whole of Punjab, on both sides of the border.
Dr. Sardul Singh May 25, 2012 04:13am
Beautiful Samadhi for our dear Sher-i-Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who brought honor to Sikhs, and treated all his subjects alike. It will be interesting to visit Sikh historical sites in Pakistan like Nankana Sahib, Kartarpur, Panja Sahib. Hope Pakistan preserves these monuments for posterity. Guru Nanak taught love and peace only, no hatred for anyone. His shrines must be preserved for all mankind.
Caz May 25, 2012 04:18am
Indeed, they must be restored. Also we must remember that lahore was the first city founded by the Hindus. It was called Loh which later became known as lahore. India and pakistan must unite.
pardesiuno May 25, 2012 04:30am
Awesome! We need to embrace and cherish our history and monuments, buddhist, mughal, sikh and others who lived and flourished in our regions during bygone eras. Thanks for your efforts Dr. Khan!
Punjabi from Lahore May 25, 2012 06:11am
This piece brought tears in my eyes. I so much admire Dawn and the author who has courage to create a ripples in the pound of ignorance. Although average Pak Punjabi admires Sikhs brothers but our biased history and text books totally distorted Sikh history. We understand a lot has to do with the pain caused during partition to millions of refugee who were trying to cross the borders on both side. Many who crossed the see of blood eventually wrote and taught the text books. We can not punish history for the crime of few ignorant murderous. Sikh history is history of Punjab. As long as we see the history from religion's lens we can not see celebrate or embrace the rich history of Punjab. Sikhs and Muslim of Punjab came from the same tribes. It is time for us to open up mind and change text book to reflect non-biased view of Punjab. Our Sikh brothers who live in Eastern Punjab has a special duty in educating us while I have forgotten the beauty of Baba Guru Nanak's message.
Jehangir khan May 25, 2012 06:27am
Unless we enlighten ourselves and come to a broad based consensus on the identity and the dynamics of our country we will always be reluctant to go through the annals of the history of the subcontinent. If at all we do then our text books usually carry a biased version of the times gone by. It is always the future that we need to plan for and always carry a reality touch to our history. The question we need to ask ourselves is "are we Muslims by choice or by birth". So the sanctity of all schools of thought should be respected. Let us learn to respect churches, gurdwaras and temples so that our mosques abroad where Muslims are in minority are also taken care of.
Rao May 25, 2012 08:27am
wow, you got it all wrong. Two nation theory is still valid and will remain valid till the end. The article basically is about highlighting the past of the Pak-subcontinent and preserving those sites which are showing the diversity of Pakistani culture. you are still living in the pre-Independence (1947) era and dreaming of akhand bharat (if i spelled it right). You need to realize the fact that we are two different countries. And we will remain like this forever. So try to come out of it and live like a good neighbour.
Eastern Punjabi May 25, 2012 09:13am
Punjabi from both side of the border are the same people, have the same family name, eat the same food, speak the same language, sing the same song written by Punjabi poets and dress the same way. So what is different keeping us apart? politicians - who are only looking out for their selfish interest? not the people from both side of the border. i agree with Punjabi from Lahore. if a person really believe in God, does it matter how one prays or we do this to please our religious leaders to keep them get fat and rich just like politicians. i sincerely hope people's will prevails at the end as in case of Germany.
S.Chandramouli May 25, 2012 09:19am
This is a beginning of tolerance and appreciation of a different culture.There are beautiful roses in your neighbours garden but you cannot close your eyes or their beauty because you dont like your neighbour.We in India have heard of Karachi Halwa and so you would have heard of Bombay halwa.Halwa is halwa.It is sweet no matter whoever was the chef.
Vijay Sethi May 25, 2012 12:47pm
a very good effort to eduacate the Punjabi youth on both sides of the Radcliffe line about their heritage and with Punjabis being a global community now,the younger n new generation will also be inquisitive to know about their roots in the Punjab--as a person who has only heard the stories of the 12 darwazas of Lahore n the evenings at Mughal Gardens from my parents your interview /research was very informative--my late mother hailed from Sutar Mandi Lahore Shalmi Darwaza Gali Peshorian n late father from Nawanshehr Abbotabad--thanks for your contribution which will go a long way in bringing us closer
gora May 25, 2012 10:29am
“This is Mughal, so this is ours; this belongs to another religion, so this isn’t. It should not be like this. We are heirs of an ancient culture and we need to understand it. Starting from the Indus Valley, anything and everything in this part of the world is what makes us who we are,”........... It is a tragedy that a Pakistani will go to any length to prove that his ancestor was someone in Central Asia or middle east..... Muneeb, you stole my words. In UK, some muslims dress like arabs so that they feel closer to them.
Mohan May 25, 2012 10:29am
"We are heirs of an ancient culture and we need to understand it. Starting from the Indus Valley, anything and everything in this part of the world is what makes us who we are".. Excellent words, this is why we have been thought history.. to be more precise "Correct History"..
Danial May 25, 2012 11:53am
India and Pakistan are part of Indian subcontinent and hence we do share common history. Extremist elements in our society lead towards partition and hence as the people of either side, respect for religious buildings and protecting rich culture heritage that we have, should be our prime goal. Other wise you don't know that history might repeat itself and India partitioned into further Pakistans under different religious groups with in Indian society..
Sandhu May 25, 2012 12:05pm
This is punjabi heritage,and I'm proud of it. A punjabi from Teh-Dist.Gujrat
Agha Ata May 25, 2012 12:11pm
I hope that in distant future, prodigal son may come back home, after all!
@god4atheist May 25, 2012 12:34pm
Talking of Iqbal, he became as Muslim as Muslim can be later in his life. In Pakistan, he's known more for his Tarana-e-milli which starts with - Chin vo Arab hamaraa hindostaaN hamaara Muslim hain hum; watan hai saara jahaaN hamaara He became as Muslim as a Muslim can be later in life. He was also a proponent of separate state for Muslims and is considered a major player in creation of Idea of Pakistan. Therefore , I would not glorify someone who is undeserving.
raika45 May 25, 2012 12:48pm
The reason is that most of us Sikhs in India or throughout the world have no ides of the existence of such "relics".Open your doors Pakistan to us tourists.You will make millions and we can see our history.You will be blessed and we will be blessed.A win win situation for all.That is if your religious trouble creators do not throw a spanner in the works.
Khalad Goheer May 25, 2012 01:24pm
I cannot agree more; if not even go forward. For those Muslims, our Prophet Mohamed's acceptance in Medina was from non-Muslims and the beginning of the wide influence of Islam. Though better to understand those that believe in the same God, yet tolerance and acceptance of even those that don't, equates and permeates humanity, as the first step of any belief.
Amir Ali Khan May 25, 2012 01:36pm
Yeah :P you ruled from China to Spain, isn't it??? Arabs did...not Pakistanis...It's time we acknowledge what the truth is...otherwise the propaganda would continue...the fact is history is doctored on both sides of the border by the politicians to fulfil their self centric interests
A Thankful Sikh May 25, 2012 01:49pm
Excellent article. Please work with Sikh organizations and see if this heritage can be restored and saved for future generations.
vinit May 25, 2012 03:07pm
Kudos to dawn and the pakistan has become greater to incorporate other religions as its rather than a state where it had small heart not to accomodate others.....hats off
rhea May 25, 2012 03:19pm
gr8 article. but i want to point out here that in pakistan, people are unaware of the importance of their artistic heritage and the importance of the past relics coz their significance is never taught. people are never educated abt the significance of the historical sights. the author's comment abt people not knowing the meaning of the drawings n motifs they see at historical sight is true. bt i want to point out here that only a few privilidged (the students of art) have access to such info. the common students are deprived of this knowledge as there is no subject abt art histroy at any level in pakistan. and art education is costly, so only a few people can afford it. i wish that at least there were some history courses n workshops arranged by art dpts all over pakistan for those who are interested in learning abt our art. these workshops shud b desinged for the layman and shud be offered for common peiple who may or may not be students. i hope that the author and dr. shahbaz will consider this suggestion. btw i m one of those who are desperately waiting for such avenues n opportunities to learn abt the local art n culture. i hope some day we ll find sm1 who could teach the layman.
Concerned May 25, 2012 04:36pm
In present day Pakistan, Dr Khan may have to fear for her life just for doing this work.
Manzoor Elahi May 25, 2012 05:05pm
I am truly amazed (in a good way) to even read a view like this. Without Dawn being a forum for discussions on excellent articles like this, we would probably be ignorant of knowing that there are ideas and and thoughts like this in Pakistan. Thank you for providing this forum.
Manzoor Elahi May 25, 2012 05:07pm
I don't know if India and Pakistan should unite, but they should certainly accept their common heritage, and as others have pointed out, be VERY proud of that common heritage.
Manzoor Elahi May 25, 2012 05:08pm
+1 for this comment.
Manzoor Elahi May 25, 2012 05:09pm
Thank you Dr. Khan! Your writing is simple terrific, and very eye opening. We need more of you.
@drmanu09 May 25, 2012 06:43pm
wow superb,:-) I am impressed to a greater extent by reading comments than article. Earlier i thought all Pakistanis hate other religion, but it is not true. You people are really great. New Delhi
Saad May 25, 2012 07:04pm
Pakistan is a name of a region rarther than a country..."P"unjab, "A"fghania (old name of KPK), "K"ashmir, "S"indh, baluchis"TAN"...according to 1934 journal of Ch Rehmat Ali. Ethnic Punjabis and Ethnic Kashmiris of India are more closer to Punjabis and Kashmiris of Pakistan than they are to their counterparts in India i.e Tamils, Telugu, Bengali..etc. Punjab should never had been divided...East Punjab is culturally closer to Pakistan than to rest of India.
Caz May 25, 2012 07:31pm
We would like you all to come and stay. This is your land too. That border has got to go.
Darshan Singh Sahri May 25, 2012 07:37pm
The Faqir family in Lahore has a rich collection about the Sikh era. Their ancestor Faqir Aziz ud Din was Foreign minister in the court of Ranjit Singh. The author would find it very useful.
Yasser Hamid Shah May 25, 2012 07:49pm
As a history buff I fully endorse the conservation of sites all over the world, regardless of the civilizations that made them. The Samadhi is a beautiful sight in its own right but falls short in size and grandure compared to Emperor Aurangzeb's Badshahi Masjid right next to it. I recommend the internet site of UNESCO World Heritage to explore the rich history of man. I disagree with the indians who says the Two Nation Theory is fiction and want to remove my country Pakistan from the map and into a larger Hindustan. Pakistan is a reality and the very wast majority love tjeir country and see Kashmir, a Muslim majority state, as the rightful part of Pakistan in the same way Nehru and Patel saw Hindu majority Junagarh as Hindustan's even as its ruler (as in Kashmir vs. Hindustan) had signed its state to Pakistan. Coming back to the article...yes, every part of Pakistan is beautiful and must be protected regardless of the civilizations that made them. As for the Sikh monuments like the gurdwaras being a part of my hetitage: no. My heritage is Islamic and Pakistani and I am very very happy that Allama Iqbal and Qaid-e-Azam had the foresight and the intellect to serve their Pakistani nation and the (then) muslims of British India.
Test May 25, 2012 08:01pm
Great article - both sides of border share same history. They are same "nasl" of people. That's why both eat same food, music, language and both are successful in army profession. So why fight??? England encouraged 2 nations because they knew after 50 years it could become a world superpower. Just imagine if Ind-Pak had not fought the wars, all that money would have gone to development.
abc May 25, 2012 08:11pm
...... or pakistan divided into North pakistan and south pakistan. Respect should be everywhere:
abc May 25, 2012 08:20pm
very well said Muneeb ... unfortunately very few people today have the maturity to accept this fact or maybe thats how it is programmed because of the environment. Middle east has its own different culture and not necessarily better or worst than the culture in the Indian subcontinent. Why so much shame? No christian says we descend from Italy or that we are proud of italy and does not use italian words while speaking ...... and this does not make them any less christian .....
Suraj Tschand May 25, 2012 08:34pm
Thank you Dr. Nadhara Khan for writing this article. Your article touches the heart of every Punjabi in the world and you are 100% right that Sikhs and other Punjabis would love to visit their heritage sites in the City of Lahore and other parts of Punjab..
Caz May 25, 2012 08:47pm
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a true son of the Punjab
Caz May 25, 2012 10:03pm
Maharajah Ranjit Singh was a true son of the Punjab.
Roger May 25, 2012 11:04pm
I think, the essence of all religion/s is to become a decent human being. Once we get to understand and practice this concept then every thing else would follow. Let us work towards educating our masses. When the enlightened minds start reasoning, then and only then the peace would prevail in the world. It (world) would become one without physical borders and deep rooted hatred would diminish about each-others' values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.
roger May 25, 2012 11:08pm
I think, the essence of all religion/s is to become a decent human being. Once we get to understand and practice this concept then every thing else would follow.
Mohinder Singh May 26, 2012 02:08am
"""" It is time for us to open up mind """"........good start good thinking.......start respecting Punjabi language. There are more than 70 million people in Punjab whose MOTHER tongue is Punjabi Yet this Mother tongue has no recognition In west Punjab or anywhere in Pakistan.......may be that is why there are problems.......respect your MOTHER Tongue...... Punjabi is construed to be language of Sikhs.......don't they know Punjabi precedes Sikh religion.
Punjabi Jatt May 26, 2012 03:02am
You say your heritage is Islam but is your DNA middle Eastern Too or is your DNA inherited from Hind. Pakistan and India by the way make up Hind.
Punjabi Jatt May 26, 2012 03:23am
I enjoyed reading this article. It reminded me of the good old days. I grew up in the border district of Punjab near Kasur. As a young kid I loved listening to the stories of our village Sufi 'Chacha' who i later discovered also read the holy Sikh sciptures in Urdu. I spent hours listening to his fabulous stories about the Sikh wars and adventures of the Muslim and Sikh Jatts, many of whom were first cousins and had the same surnames. First always on my list of Chacha's stories was the adventures of one Sikh boy named Ranjit Singh who later became the Maharaja of Punjab and a close second was the adventures of one young man named Bulleh Shah who lived in Kasur. Both I realise now are giants in "Punjabiyat". I never saw a Punjabi Sikh or Hindu different from me. We were sons of Hind. I hold that view even today. Our Punjabi soil is our 'Matta" and Punjab waters our "Pitta".
dinesh May 26, 2012 04:16am
finally someone sane and logical..Thanks Muneeb
Sunoo Thomas May 26, 2012 04:52am
Agree. We must each our younger generations to forgive their ancestors for creating this division of a unique culture that not only was the source for new religions but also protected persecuted ones ( Zorastrians, B'hais, e.g..,) for centuries, an also created unique music, poetry and literature.
Eastern Punjabi May 26, 2012 06:39am
i am happy to see that i am not alone. everyone need to know when we talk about Heritage of the Sikhs that foundation stone of the Golden Temple was layed by Hazrat Mian Mir. A lesson to humanity that we are all connected but fell victim to the British plan who wanted to divide us so they could sell arms. i sincerely hope that i see the border elimination in my life time. i think both countries can survive and set an example to the world having just virtual borders.
@NaddaSalim May 26, 2012 10:24am
Am glad someone has taken the initiative & is doing something about it. I'm a huge Art History fan myself & have taught it at under grad level. If u need any help pls consider me a volunteer tho am in Khi.
Zahid Hussain May 26, 2012 01:09pm
Anyone who circles round the outer walls of Lahore Fort, and Badshahi Mosque, will find every piece of brick/stone and dust, speaking and telling stories of our heritage.
Vinay May 26, 2012 01:27pm
hi Jehangir Khan. I appreciate your words and thoughts and in realty today if we want to grow with the every aspects of life then we should respect every culture every religious and every human being and give equally opportunity to every one to create a good society
Saqib Syed May 26, 2012 01:42pm
Punjab is full of sacred Sikh holy sites which include Punja Sahib (Hasanabdal), Sacha Soda (Sheikhupura), Nankana Sahib, Kartarpur Sahib (Narowal), bithplace of Ranjitsingh near Gujranwala and many ancient mansions (Havelis) from Sikh era.This heritage can attract hundreds of thousands of Sikhs from all over the world and can prove as a big source of income through pilgrimage tourism. Moreover, Pakistan is a cradle of other religious sites as well. It can attract a huge number of Buddhist pilgrims magnetized at Taxila and nearby Gandhara sites. Katas Raj (Chakwal), Tilla Jogian (Jhelum), sadhu bela and innumerable Hindu holy temples are waiting for their religious wayfarers.Even a big number of British nationals wish to visit their forefather's graves at Pakistani cemeteries including their old residences/offices spread all over the country. Some argue that amid the prevailing security situation who will stake his life to make a pilgrimage. It may sound practical but if we failed to preserve this heritage today, nothing will be left to offer when we will meet the silver lining of this cloud.
JackQ May 26, 2012 02:43pm
I am an Indian Muslim not a great fan of Pakistan's rulers and most of their politicians .Every time I read India's major newspapers,I find it very Anti-Islamic and anti-muslim. While reading this article,I thought about the same.
Sanjeevroy3 May 26, 2012 03:21pm
excellent article
Zain Rizvi May 26, 2012 03:33pm
Yup Nadhra Shahbaz is a great lady. I had learnt so much from her but i really pity myself of not contributing anything towards this cause. I just love the Sub Continent architecture and heritage but i found no serious platform to really give my heart for this cause. We and inparticular our Govt need to focus on preservation and protection of my heritage because it really saddens me wherever I go I witness such destruction and ignorance about our heritage and monuments. We should do something before its too late. N Bushra good work by bringing it to the main stream
Khan May 26, 2012 04:06pm
I love punjab Pakistani or Indian we are the same stop hating and start loving.....
SikhUSA May 26, 2012 06:29pm
I am a Sikh from Amritsar, presently living in USA. I was born after 1947. I can talk about the stories I have heard from my father and other relatives who visited Punjab (Pakistan). Since Sikh is easily identifiable with turban. Any time they have visited Lahore or any other city for that matter, and anybody and everybody treat them like a honored guest. Taxi driver wouldn’t charge them any fare, shopkeeper wouldn’t accept any money for the purchase. Even stranger on the road treat them more than family. This is the Punjabi Hospitality. It is just amazing how much respect and love both Punjab’s has for each other. Same thing happened when Pakistanis visited Chandigarh for cricket match. Full blown hospitality was extended to all the visitors. One day I plan to visit Lahore. One day, Yes. JEEVE PUNJAB.
sorma May 26, 2012 07:42pm
test: is dawn still censoring comments?!
Gurcharan Singh May 26, 2012 09:20pm
Sad, that when the talk is on, all feel sad and emotional.But on the ground tehre are still many who have other nefarious plans to anhilate each other, as if 1947 and subsequent wars were not enough.With no disrepect to the People of the Punjab, the golden era of the punjbai history starts with Guru Nanak Ji and ends with Maharajah Ranjit Singh.Prior to that it was history of the invaders, then persian and turko and mughal.By eradicating this Punjabi sikh elemnt of the history, we eradicate the authentic history of the Punjab.I would love to spend a few weeks in the wast Punjab; but I am not sure what the receptuon would be.And I was not even born in India nor its little brother Pakistan.But I am still Punjbai and love the whole of Punjab, as I understand it was built by Baba Fredd, Guru Nanak Ji, Bulleh shah aand Maharajah Ranjit Singh; it conatain sthe love epecs of heer ranjha, sohni mahiwal ,and they all used Punjabi.
Jonathan May 26, 2012 11:20pm
Not to disagree but to elaborate on your correct point, Jahaalat has been ingrained on both sides not just one. Any person who can filter out his/her own bias lens can see how wrong ideas get promoted by a smaller group like Politicians/ Media/ Corporate to take advantage of the Jahaalat practiced by the bigger group ( the Janata) without even knowing the reason of their wrong beliefs that are not their own to begin with.
Appu May 26, 2012 11:50pm
Yasser, What did Pakistan gain by breaking away from the larger India ? Analyse your situation now. Compare the 3 countries...India, Pak and Bangladesh 60 years after they each began their lives. Overindulgence in fundamentalism and self glorification has caused Pak's backwardness, poverty and work is religarchy. You guys just need to think beyond religion. You focus most of your time and attention in following your religion and glorifying it. We in India are taught that work is religion. Not that we don't practice our religion, but we don't put it over everything else in our lives. You as a nation are free to stay the way you are, but that is just going to widen the gap between Pak and the rest of the world.
ASA May 27, 2012 04:13am
Nations are not formed based on ethnicity, color of skin or language alone. Most prominent example of all is America. America was formed based on ideas, created by Europeans who sacrificed enormously fighting with their own kind (same last names heritage, language etc) to claim the country. The concept of Pakistan is very simple. A separate nation for Muslims (not Punjabis, Sindhis, Balochis etc) where they can observe and practice their religion freely without prejudice. As Pakistanis we need to continue to remind ourselves about this and should never forget about the sacrifices our elder made to make this a reality for us. Pakistan is going through a rough patch now but I know deep down that Pakistan will re-emerge out of the current situation more powerful and stronger than ever before. I wish India the best as well.
maninblue1947 May 27, 2012 01:23pm
I have lived for four years east of the Ravi and visited west-Panjab 2 times in that period. I love Lahore, there is still something of the pre-1947 cosmopolitan Lahore left, and I felt perfectly at home and safe in this great city. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was very much the ruler of Panjab, with prominent Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs in his government, who gave jagirs to Gurdwaras, Mandirs and Masjids ! It is not bad that Panjab is in two countries, but it is bad that those with Pakistani or Indian passports cannot easily visit the other Panjab, and meet with the other Panjabis ! Gurfateh, Ram Ram, Peace be with you ! Harjinder Singh Sint-Truiden Belgium
Kumar May 27, 2012 05:09am
sunil May 27, 2012 07:46am
Nice article.... What about rediscovering 5000 years old hindu heritage of pakistan which is a much bigger reality than 800 years of muslim heritage and 500 years of sikh heritage?
sanjay May 27, 2012 10:14am
very true
Kapil Khanna May 27, 2012 10:36am
What a fantastic artice. Until now, I was aware that Nankana Sahib and Panja Sahib are the two important Sikh Shrines in Pakistan. Now, I am aware that samadhi of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is also there. All the governments the world over must make an endevor to preserve the heritage sites irrespective of the religion they are associated it. Pakistan has a dismal record of ignoring them. It can open a new chapter in building faith across both countries by making an effort yto preserve the heritage. For e.g., the Surajkund temple at Multan, Hinglaaj temple (Nani ka Haj) and various other sites, All the To sum it up, Dawn just doesn't cease to amaze me. It belches out one fine article after another. Kudos to all who contribute to Dawn for being such a nice newspaper.
DKhan May 27, 2012 10:59am
I think one of basic human rights is "freedom of association" if people wish to dress or undress in a certain way, that is their birth right. Theres no need to get all hysterical about this. :)
Dkay May 27, 2012 11:01am
Ahluwalia sahab, I don't wish to get into the argument about magnitude, I'm sure you are aware of the movement in India that claims that the Taj Mahal is a pre-historic Hindu Temple. if you don't believe me, google it :)
Praveen in USA May 27, 2012 11:34am
I love to read these comments that gives insights into the minds of people of pakistan. I always thought the people of Pakistan are great it is just that a sense of revenge for unjust in politics is perpetuating hatred. Politics is not a fair game, thus the foundation or reasons for the formation of Pakistan appears questionable. I wish that people of Pakistan take care of their country beyond religion. All religions are good when practiced as intended without political intent. As I heard before if we remove politicians, priests and police, people are good everywhere.
Pradip May 27, 2012 02:42pm
I agree but please do add "religion" to your first sentence. Pakistan and yes, Israel are only two anomalies in human history and both will face the test of time.
Pradip May 27, 2012 02:49pm
The late and great Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was from Kasur too!
dr amar May 27, 2012 03:22pm
India and Pakistan shud again unite as one Nation if it happens we can Rule the world united but some fanatics in both sides will not allow to happen it such Taliban in Pakistan
doc May 27, 2012 07:48pm
r u talking about India's news paper as anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim!!!!!!!!!!
faps May 27, 2012 08:32pm
I like your sentiment of uniting but I don't approve of the comment RULE the world. We should all learn to coexist and not dominate anyone else.
faps May 27, 2012 08:53pm
Saad, what you are saying is correct to some extent but I am not sure what are you trying to imply. As far as food and clothing is concerned, the Indian Punjabis are definetely closer to Pakistani Punjabis. However, as far as the overall thought process is concerned, the Indian Punjabis have more in common with Indian Tamils, Telugu, Bengali's, etc. They all believe in "live and let live". That is why all religions can coexist and flourish in India. Have you ever heard of the Shia and Sunni fighting each other in India. There are always issues from time to time between the communities but they are not swept under the rug and eventually sorted out. I hope that one day Pakistan can adopt a similar view of life. If Pakistan could cleanup its mess, it would become the #1 tourist spot for most Indians. I would love to visit because it is the land of my ancestors.
anil May 27, 2012 09:15pm
You ignore history, history will ignore you. Those who realise this and value the history, history values them. Put a blockage on history, history will do the same to you.
Rajan May 27, 2012 09:21pm
Great article, well researched and written. Thank you for enlightening many readers about the history of the great and honest Sikh people. All historical buildings and artefacts must be preserved regardless of who they belong to. No more destruction please.
Shabeer May 27, 2012 09:57pm
We should have a corner in our heart for every race and every religion because we must be from a common ancestor. Whenever we have differences and it inflames some of us, we should sit down and have a glass of cold water and contemplate our similarities and quickly the dagger which we are hiding in our cloak will turn into a flower and the stench of enmity in our hearts with change into the fragrance of a flower. It is all in ours mind friends. Do not worry about beliefs, tolerate each other, for beliefs are between man and God and not between man and man.
abdul ghaffar May 27, 2012 10:33pm
Is that the reason why they hate us because we left them.
Shah May 27, 2012 10:49pm
Yes, Pakistan is based in South Asia in what used to be British Empire, Mughal Sultanate and Delhi Sultanate. But this does not change the fact that we belong to the Islamic Civilization and do not see Sikhism as part of my heritage - just as the Sikhs and Hindus do see them self as attached to my Muslim heritage. I never had my DNA checked - but I am pretty sure it is Pakistani and not Indian :-)
Baba Sidni May 28, 2012 01:36am
And I guess publishing these comments is also jahaalat.
Baba Sidni May 28, 2012 01:53am
O yes. But this was not a good test. They only censor, what does not go with their ideology.
Ravi May 28, 2012 01:55am
Indians are used to billions of subsects and subdivisions within hindu, christian and islamic religions. They do not normally differentiate between the different sects. We will be Anti-Sikh if they are violent and the same goes with Islam. It is not the religion, only the violence which we abhor
Baba Sidni May 28, 2012 02:04am
If you are eager to test the DNA of the history bluff, you would be amazed to find that the heritage of the Punjabis is form Aryans, who came 5000 years ago from central Asia. Another group from the same are, went to the Middle East as well. With the same DNA. Yes they did not change it. So checking for the DNA for differences or similarities would be difficult in this case. Yes checking of DNA, that it is different from the DNA of a rabbit or not, would be easier.
shutter*2010 May 28, 2012 05:35am
History reading is important before we all call ourselves Sikhs and Hindus. Mr. Khan don't forget that some of us left our sisters in Punjab in 1947. So the Sikhs got related to us one more time. Is it not? Khalsa Khan.
pardeep May 28, 2012 07:18am
Sacrifices by the elders for the creation of Pakistan is a fraudulent concept. Can anybody tell of any Muslim follower of Jinnah going to jail for the freedom of the country; was any Muslim League member ever convicted. Actually movement for creation of Pakistan was a collaborative movement engineered by the Britishers to thwart independence movement launched by Congress. The sacrifices for freedom were made by only those Muslims who were members of Congress. And the collaboration was successful in giving power to Muslims only in those areas which were Muslim majority and under any democratic system the Muslim would have been the major rulers. And because Pakistan was not created by any sacrifices in the struggle for freedom, it did not survive also for long in original shape as the majority has already left it and the minorities (ethnic) in the left over are fighting for secession. We should wake ourself up about the historical correctness.
Indian from lahore May 28, 2012 08:54am
I am an Indian and I agree that the uniting of India and Pakistan is unrealistic. I am one of those who have felt the pain of my grandparents in giving up what could have been our homes - such homes were left behind in all corners of the country when the two nations were formed. I have come to understand the painful reality of our partition as this - If we see each other as separate we will say we lost our homes or our homes were snatched from us, if we see each other as one we can say we exchanged homes. We are known as refugees in India, Muhajir in Pakistan. Pakistan continues to be the land of the Sindhis, Baluchistanis, Pashtuns and Punjabis, the rest try to fake it to make it. Indian secularists will paint India in saffron in return and forget that the color signifies patriotism when there are Muslims that feel that sentiment in their heart for India just as much as Hindus. There are previously Bihari, Gujarati and Hyderabadi Muslims that may even now be living in the lanes of Lahore that i know only through stories, their children are going to schools and healing in hospitals that could have been my native. There are Hindus like me who live in Gujarat in a city that was built by a Muslim ruler. for those of us who grew up with the heritage of Lahore and Rawalpindi, the Eastern Punjabi dialects remind us three generations later that our roots are somewhere else. indeed i learned to make a qalam from my grand father who remembers swimming across the chenab to get to school. let us live in our two countries and heal together, strengthen our nations so we can say good bye to foreign aid that comes at the price of dividing us. we have what we need to feed, clothe and shelter our people. we can create a glorious future for ourselves and our future generations. let us respect and protect each other's identities and cultures and come together in peace and prosperity.
Hina May 28, 2012 09:23pm
well done Dr Khan, you have made the Pakistani nation proud of you. brilliant work .
punjabi jatt May 29, 2012 04:49am
should'nt a Muslim have semitic heritage instead or Aryan heritage. Afterall the ancient aryans were Hindus, :)
singh (australia) May 30, 2012 02:38am
During Maharaja Ranjit Singh's time no religeous place of worship was destroyed or disrespected. He was very fair king who made sure that his subjects are treated fairly and equally as per Sikh treaching and code of conduct. We should also NEVER ever forget our greatest hero 'Dulla Bhatti' and his samadh in Lahore. If I ever visit Pakistan, I will to take my family to the samaadh of this greatest warrior son of Punjab and all the historical & religious places. I was born 20yrs after Hindustan got freedom, BUT I always feel great 'thand' when I meet people from if meeting my long lost brothers and sisters. The bond between India and Pakistan can never be broken. Long live Hindustan (India & Pakistan) !!