A Lion’s Story: The Indus River
Tibetans believe that the Indus springs forth from the mouth of a snow-lion, white as the snow, with a turquoise mane. Here, in Tibet, the river is known as Sengge Khambab, the lion river. And any man who drinks from its waters will become as fearless as a lion. Nandita Bhavnani traces the course of the mighty Indus river from Mount Kailas to the Arabian sea.
The 5000 Year Old Metropolis: Mohenjodaro
Mohenjodaro, is one of the largest cities of the Indus civilisation. It was planned with great care and executed
in a short period of time, probably with pre-fabricated materials. As excavations at Mohenjodaro began the world came to know that there existed in India a highly sophisticated civilisation which was not only as old as those of Mesopotamia
(roughly modern day Iraq and the region surrounding it) and Egypt, but was more developed than them in some respects. Padmashri archaeologist Dr. M.K. Dhavalikar writes about this ancient marvel.
A Land of Swift Change and Many Race: Sindh after Mohenjodaro
The Sindh region was home to some advanced urban Indus Valley settlements, most famously Mohenjodaro. Saaz Aggarwal writes about what happened to the the people of the Indus valley after the decline of Mohenjodaro.
A Prayer for the Beloved: The Poetry of Shah Abdul Latif
This iconic sixteenth century Sindh poet continues to be revered by common folk and the elite. Latif authored a major work, Shah Jo Risalo, which according to most sources has thirty surs or musical compositions, based on classical Indian ragas.
Known as one of the greatest Sufi works in history, the Risalo is a prayer, a cry for the beloved. Anju Makhija writes about this iconic saint-poet.
The Bhaiband Network: Sindhi Multinationals in the Nineteenth Century
Of all the diasporic merchant communities trading in different parts of the world, the Sindhis form one of the most ubiquitous. They have shops in almost every country; certainly in every major tourist destination. And yet, their omnipresence has received little notice as the significant phenomenon it is. It took a French scholar, Claude Markovits, to study this remarkable network and write about it, more than a hundred and fifty years after the first Sindhi entrepreneurs set out on their exploratory voyages. Saaz Aggarwal sheds light on the entrepreneurs who formed the ‘Bhaiband’ network.
Wherever: A Family Memory of the Partition
In 1947, as Independence approached, plans were made to partition the country into India and Pakistan. It was confirmed that Punjab and Bengal would be split in two, with a part going to each country. Sindh, however, would be given intact to the new country, Pakistan. The Sindhi Hindus would remain in Sindh. They had always been a minority community in Sindh; they would continue as before. Soon, however, it became clear that the creation of a new country on religious lines was mobilising the population along the new borders and creating terror and bloodshed in a way that no one could control. Migrants from the United Provinces and Bihar began appearing in Sindh and gradually refugees from Punjab too, hunted and embittered, with horror stories of their own. Saaz Aggarwal presents her own mother’s experiences and memories of the Partition.
Breaking the Silence: Sindhi Poetry and the Partition
No one could have predicted then that when India would finally gain freedom from colonial rule, it would be at the cost of a nation divided – a rupture that robbed more than a million Sindhis of their homeland when all of Sindh went to Pakistan. Nostalgia, naturally, formed the backbone of Sindhi literature in the immediate post-Partition period. Menka Shivdasani writes about how poetry helped the Sindhi community find a voice in the post-Partition period.
The Driving Force of Faith: Lord Jhulelal
Often depicted on his vehicle, the pallo fish, Lord Jhulelal is revered as the ‘Ishta Dev’ or principal deity of the Sindhi community. Harish Thakkar explains the legends and history associated with this revered figure.
Cheti Chand: When Sindhis Celebrate
Lord Jhulelal, the community god of the Sindhis, and Cheti Chand, that marks the beginning of a new year, are the two most
important icons that define the spirit of this close-knit community. Moreover, they serve as a continuing link between generations, keeping intact age-old traditions and rituals.
Playing a Flag-Bearing Role: The Sindhi Language
Language has an uncanny chameleonic adaptability to appear local, bypassing religious, ethnic and political boundaries. The Sindhi language is no exception to this phenomenon. Devendra G Kodwani outlines the history of Sindhi language and
its literary spread, adaptations and influences.
Pathways to Spirituality: The Sindhi Durbars
The Sindhi faith, said to have its origins in ancient Sindhu civilisation, is rich with history, language, rituals and spirituality. Aruna Jethwani traces, in particular, the concept of Durbars.
Textile Jewels of Sindh: Ajraks and Rallis
An age-old art that has moved with the community that practices it, quilting Rallis and block printing Ajraks is a tradition being kept alive by a handful of artisanal families in Kutch. Nandu Asrani describes the painstaking process that goes into creating these everyday objects that deserve to be recognised as works of art.
The Earliest Art in India: Bhimbetka Rock Shelters
The entire Bhimbetka region is said to contain hundreds of rock shelters, most of which preserve rock paintings – some individually scattered and some dense with overlapping paintings. Parth Chauhan gives a detailed account of these 50,000 year old paintings.
Dreams in Red Sandstone: Fatehpur Sikri
Some cities are so inextricably linked with their emperors that trying to understand one, demands that you understand the other. Fatehpur Sikri and its association with Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar shaped and influenced the events of Mughal history for centuries to come. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Fatehpur Sikri is known for its architecture and for the tomb of the Sufi saint Sheikh Salim Chishti. Md. Masarrath Ali Khan and photographer Faheem visit Fatehpur Sikri to uncover the history steeped in its stones.
The North East’s Adored Guests: Amur Falcons
The Amur Falcon aka the Eastern Red- footed Falcon (Falco amurensis) is a raptor from the Falcon family. A small bird measuring about 26 – 30 cm in length, it undertakes one of the longest migrations by any raptor. Its impressive annual 22,000 kilometre round trip covers several countries and a 3000 km journey over water making it an extremely well-travelled bird. Uma Athale explains how these birds have gone from being hunted almost to extinction to being revered guests in Nagaland.
The Sacred and the Secular: Heritage of Ujjain
Ujjain comes alive for the Simhastha Kumbh Mela which takes place every twelve years. According to local legends, to be part of this Kumbh Mela is one of the most divine feelings and one is truly blessed if one takes a dip in
the holy river Shipra. Apart from the Kumbh Mela, Ujjain is an ancient city, where history and mythology still hold sway, as Prachi Bari reveals.