Stories about festival

Baisakhi fair: Thanking one God for His bounty

As a child, I attended the Baisakhi fair many times. The sound of the beat of the  huge dhol echo in my memory. I can picture the ancient ‘well of death’. Visions of  the bright circus and toy shops come flooding back to me. I can almost taste the unique sweetness of the jalaibis, and the spicy taste of pakoras. Last year I visited the fair after all these years and relived childhood memories. Looking back,  I am amazed at the scale of the three-day festival marking the harvest time of the rabi (winter) crops. It is celebrated as a harvest festival by the large farming community in ...

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The truth behind the Basant ruling

The Basant prohibition has been explained officially in terms of foul play by kite flyers who use metallic wire or coat their twine with such preparations that it becomes fatal for the people in the streets who happen to get it on their throats. But the real reason is the clerics’ hatred of the festivity. They campaigned against it calling it a Hindu festival and a pagan ritual. The Muslims, they insisted, must be barred from it. It was on account of this campaign that the prohibition was proclaimed. Hindus revere and worship everything in nature. To them, the stars, the ...

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Should Muslims celebrate Valentine’s Day?

The internet has been inundated with emails, Facebook posts and videos encouraging people to boycott Valentine’s Day and claiming that Islam prohibits the holiday. One video made by a group of young boys quotes historical references to prove that V-Day is un-Islamic. I received a text message that said “Speak against the kuffar and boycott Valentine’s Day!” A student in one of the classes that I teach said: “Celebrating Valentine’s Day is gunnah.“ While another said: “Do you know the Americans came up with this event to mess with us? They’re trying to take Muslims away from their faith by showing them such celebrations.” Perhaps these ...

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What is your Valentine’s Day mantra?

It’s that time of year again. We’ve said goodbye to last year with nasty indulgences and ludicrous excesses. We’ve kicked off the New Year with the detoxed ‘new year, new me’ mantra and by the end of January, we’ve broken all our New Year resolutions. Yes, it’s the time when the New Year shine has faded and the New Year blues are slowly setting in. As if things weren’t bad enough, we have one thing to pull us out of our misery (not): Valentine’s Day! It’s one of those love it or hate it issues that people have polarised views on – ...

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Basant is banned for the right reasons

I have vivid memories of Basant.  Everyone would be caught up in the spirit and festivities of the season. Maybe it’s because all one really needed to celebrate was a long string and a kite. And if you still couldn’t afford that, you could snatch one that’s drifting awayin the sky. But alas, the festival which once attracted tourists from far and wide to Lahore is now a thing of the past. Anger at the government’s ban The Punjab government’s decision to ban Basant sparked a hot debate on Twitter. Pro-Basant activists believe the onus is on the government to provide ...

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Karachi Lit Fest: Liberalising the liberals

“And if the festival is attended predominantly by people from one part of town,” said co-organiser Asif Farrukhi in his opening address, “so what?” Really – so what? Even if the venue had been more central, the odds are that people from across the bridge wouldn’t have turned out in throngs. It is people from ‘this side of the bridge’ who generally attend these literary or literary-ish events, and the Carlton Hotel, however ill-appointed its halls, was a terribly convenient venue for the Defense crowd. At least the rooms and auditoriums were overflowing with enthusiasts. No, I am not going to make snide ...

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KLF 2011: The good, bad and ugly

I roped in some friends from my English Literature class to tag along with me to the Karachi Literature Festival at the Carlton Hotel this weekend, and we witnessed some enlightening talks and poor event management.  We managed to catch the last bits of a talk on literature and extremism and therein began the bad. Noisy journos and social butterflies The talk was less of a discussion and more a press/socialite event with people standing around chatting to each other and cameramen rudely pushing their way around. Can someone please explain to me why journalists who were meant to cover the event ...

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‘Tis the season for… Christmas cookies!

Picture a decorated pine-tree with presents lying underneath, a fireplace with stockings hung above it and a really old man dressed in red, ringing a big bell and crying out “ho ho ho”. Christmas is the most anticipated and widely celebrated holiday among the Christian community. The big day is just around the corner and even though I don’t celebrate it, I appreciate the values it represents. It’s not just about giving expensive gifts to your loved ones, it’s about sharing and caring for people who do not have the luxuries some of us have. For those who don’t understand the true spirit ...

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How to dhamaal in New York

The Sufi Music Festival organized by Pakistani Peace Builders (PPB) in Union Square was the closest I’ve gotten to Lahore in three years. And was it a treat. Think food street, Salt N’ Pepper, faludas, kulfis, funny but poignant commentaries on rickshaws, naani force feeding you, freshly picked jaaman, all thrown in one – then, multiply this by a thousand. And add in some jasmine and rose necklaces and bracelets. And that still doesn’t compare. Despite the sweltering 90-something degree heat and the sun beating down on the New York concrete, hundreds if not thousands of people showed up for ...

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