Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cholistan Cultural Festival by Lok Virsa - - Peoples in Large Numbers Entertained Theirselves With The Festivities

Availing the opportunity created by Lok Virsa at its premises to celebrate weekend, a large number of residents of twin cities hailing from different walks of life visited the ‘Cholistan Cultural Festival’ on Sunday.

The ongoing three-day festival, featuring the artisans-at-work exhibition, folkloric performances, song and dance ensembles with special focus on camel dance, traditional cuisine, special attractions for children such as jumping castles, swings, marry go round, attracted the entertainment-starved people of twin cities.

As many as 18 master craftsmen in the specialized craft fields of rilli (patch work), Khussa (traditional shoe) making, Farasi (floor rugs) weaving, Khaddar weaving, embroidery work with special emphasis on Bahawalpuri and Cholistani embroidery, pottery and Chabbi weaving (a plate like basket for bread keeping) are participating in the exhibition.

The most prominent among them is Malookan Bibi, master artisan in rilli (appliqué work) who has dedicated over 30 years of her life to this dying art. She learnt this art from her mother in a very early age and is trying to transfer it to the next generations, particularly young girls of her family.

Recognizing her talent, Lok Virsa selected her for the ceremony of Chaddarposhi that was performed during the inaugural ceremony of the Cholistan festival.

The festival will continue from 11.00 am to 8.00 pm till Monday (Today).

Hajj Mabroor: Prepare Yourself Before Planning Hajj - - May Allah Accept Your Hajj!

The Hajj (Pilgrimage) – Fifth Pillar of Islam:
Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a mandatory act of worship (Ibadat); means to visit the Kaa'ba in Makkah on the specified dates in the month of Zul-Hijjah (Dhul-Hijjah) and perform the religious rites in accordance with the Islamic Laws.

The Hajj (Pilgrimage) – Fifth Pillar of Islam

Following conditions have to be fulfilled before Hajj becomes a compulsory duty on mankind.

The first condition is that of being a Muslim. Non-Muslims are, first and foremost, obliged to become Muslims after which the daily, monthly, yearly and once in a lifetime duties of Islam successively become requirements. Hajj is a religious duty which must be accompanied by the correct belief in order for it to be accepted by Allah.

The second and third conditions are those of sanity and puberty. A Muslim has to have reached puberty and be of sound mind for his or her Hajj to become a duty. Divine rewards and punishments are given as a result of human choice between good and evil. Since a child or an insane person lack the ability to distinguish between good and evil, no religious duties are required of them. This principle of non-obligation is based on the following Hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon Him)was reported to have said: "The pen is raised from (the book of deeds) of three: the sleeper until he awakes, the child until he becomes a young man, and the insane until he regains his sanity."

The fourth condition is that of ability based on the following Quranic verse:

And, pilgrimage to the House is duty on mankind to Allah for those who can find a way there.
[Noble Quran 3:97]

The fifth condition is that of a Mahram, concerns women only and could be included under the condition of ability. Since the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade women from traveling for a distance requiring more than twenty-four hours unaccompanied by a male relative whom she can not marry (Mahram),women are not obliged to make Hajj unless they have a Mahram to accompany them. Thus, a woman without a Mahram is recommended not to try to make Hajj. However, if the woman has the means and the Mahram, she is obliged to do so.

Hazrat Ayshah asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): "O, Messenger of Allah, are women obliged to make Jihad (holy war)?" he replied, “They must make Jihad in which there is no fighting - Hajj and ‘Umrah.”
Forms of Pilgrimage (Types of Hajj):

There are three forms of Hajj:

Tamattu'- Ifrad - Qiran

Tamattu': A pilgrim wears Ihram for Umrah only during the months of Hajj, which means when he reaches Makkah, he makes Tawaf and Sa'i for ‘Umrah. He then shaves or clips his hair. On the day of Tarwiyah, which is the eighth of Zul-Hijjah (Dhul-Hijjah), he puts on his Ihram for Hajj only and carries out all of its requirements.

Ifrad: A pilgrim wears Ihram for Hajj only. When he reaches Makkah, he performs Tawaf for his arrival and Sa'i for Hajj. He doesn't shave or clip his hair as he doesn't disengage from Ihram. Instead, he remains in Ihram till after he stones Jamrat Al-'Aqabah on the Eid day. It is permissible for him to postpone his Sa'i for Hajj until after his Tawaf for Hajj.

Qiran: A pilgrim wears Ihram for both ‘Umrah and Hajj or he wears Ihram first for ‘Umrah, then makes intentions for Hajj before his Tawaf for Hajj. The obligations on one performing Ifrad are the same as those on one performing Qiran, except that the latter must slaughter whereas the former is not obligated to do so. The best of the three forms is Tamattu'. It is the form that the Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged his followers to perform. Even if a pilgrim makes intentions to perform Qiran or Ifrad he is allowed to change his intentions to Tamattu'; he can do this even after he has performed Tawaf and Sa'i.

The Journey of Hajj:

In the forenoon of the eighth day of Zul-Hijjah (Dhul-Hijjah), a pilgrim purifies himself once again by bathing as he did before ‘Umrah in the place in which he is staying, if convenient. He puts on his Ihram and says: "Here I am for Hajj. Here I am, oh Allah, here I am. Here I am. You have no partner. Here I am. Surely all praise, grace and dominion is yours, and you have no partners."

If he fears that something will prevent him from completing his Hajj he should make a condition when he makes his intentions, saying: "If I am prevented by any obstacle my place is wherever I am held up." If he has no such fear, he doesn't make this condition.
A pilgrim goes to Mina and there prays Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha' and Fajr, shortening his four unit prayers so as to make them two units each, without combining them.

When the sun rises, he goes to Arafah and there prays Dhuhr and Asr combined at the time of Dhuhr, making each one two units. He remains in Namira Mosque until sunset if possible. He remembers Allah and makes as many supplications as possible while facing the Qiblah.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) prayed thus: "There is no Deity but Allah alone. He has no partner. All dominion and praise are His and He is powerful over all things.

If he grows weary it is permissible for him to engage in beneficial conversation with his companions or reading what he can find of beneficial books, especially those concerning Allah's grace and abundant gifts. This will strengthen his hope in Allah.

He should then return to his supplications and be sure to spend the end of the day deep in supplication because the best of supplication is the supplication of the day of Arafat.

At sunset he goes from Arafah to Muzdalifah and there prays Maghrib, Isha, and Fajr. If he is tired or has little water, it is permissible for him to combine Maghrib and Isha. If he fears that he will not reach Muzdalifah until after midnight, he should pray before he reaches it for it is not permissible to delay prayer until after midnight. He remains there, in Muzdalifah, making supplications and remembering Allah till just before sunrise.
If he is weak and cannot handle the crowd during Ar-Ramy, it is permissible for him to go to Mina at the end of the night to stone the Jamrah before the arrival of the crowd.

Near sunrise, a pilgrim goes from Muzdalifah to Mina. Upon reaching it he does the following:

He throws seven consecutive pebbles at Jamrat Al-Aqabah which is the closest monument to Makkah, saying Greatest," as he: "Allah is the throws each pebble.
He slaughters the sacrificial animal, eats some of it, and gives some to the poor. Slaughter is obligatory on the Mutamatti' and Qarin.
He shaves or clips his hair; shaving is preferable. A woman clips her hair the length of a finger tip.

These three should be done in the above order if convenient, but there is no restriction if one precedes another.

With that, one is allowed to come out of Ihram. He can wear other clothing and do everything that was lawful before Ihram except engaging in marital relations.

He goes to Makkah to perform Tawaf Al-lfadah and Sa'i, also for Hajj. It is Sunnah to put perfume on before going to Makkah.

With the completion of this Tawaf and Sa'i, a pilgrim is allowed to do everything that was lawful before Ihram, including engaging in marital relations.

After performing Tawaf and Sa'i, he returns to Mina to spend the nights of the eleventh and twelfth days there.

He stones the three Jamrah in the afternoon of both the eleventh and twelfth days. He starts with the first Jamrah, which is furthest from Makkah, then the middle one, and lastly Jamrat Al-Aqabah. Each one should be stoned with seven consecutive pebbles accompanied by Takbir. He stops after the first and middle Jamrah to make supplications facing the Qiblah. It is not permissible to stone before noon on these two days. It is best to walk to the Jamrah, but riding is permissible.

If he is in a hurry after stoning on the twelfth day, he leaves Mina before sunset. But if he wishes to prolong his stay, which is best, he spends the night of the thirteenth in Mina and stones that afternoon in the same manner as on the twelfth day.

When he is ready to return to his country, he makes Tawaf Al-Wada', which is seven circuits around the Ka'bah. Menstruating women and women experiencing postnatal discharge are not obligated to perform Tawaf Al-Wada'.
Visiting The Prophet's Mosque (Masjid-e-Nabvi):

A pilgrim goes to Medina before or after Hajj with the intention of visiting the Prophet's mosque and praying in it. Prayer there is better than a thousand prayers elsewhere except in the Holy Mosque in Makkah.

Upon reaching the mosque he prays two Rak'ah of salutation or performs any obligatory prayer that is due.

He goes to the grave of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he stands before it. He greets him saying the "May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you, oh Prophet. May Allah grant you a good reward on behalf of your people."

He takes a step or two to his right to position himself before Abu Bakr and greets him saying: "May the peace, mercy, and blessing of Allah be upon you, oh Abu-Bakr, Caliph of the Messenger of Allah. May Allah be pleased with you and grant you a good reward on behalf of Muhammad's people."

Then he takes a step or two to his right to position himself before Umar and greets him saying: "May the peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you, oh Umar, Prince of the believers. May Allah be pleased with you and grant you a good reward on behalf of Muhammad's people."

In a state of purity, he goes to pray in Quba' Mosque.

He goes to Al-Baqi' to visit Uthman's grave. He stands before it and greets him saying: "May the peace, mercy and blessing of Allah be upon you,

Oh Uthman Prince of the believers. May Allah be pleased with you and grant you a good reward on behalf of Muhammad's people." He greets any other Muslims in Al-Baqi'.

He goes to Uhud and visits the grave of Hamzah and the other martyrs there with him. He greets them and prays to Allah to grant them forgiveness, mercy, and pleasure.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cholistan Cultural Festival, Arranged by the Lok Virsa - - Started at Lok Virsa Complex in The Lights and Traditionald Music

In the midst of the desert music tunes, dancing men and camels, and artisans-at-work, a three-day long Cholistan Cultural Festival, arranged by the Lok Virsa - National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage in collaboration with the Royal Norwegian Embassy kicked off here at the Lok Virsa Complex on Saturday.

The inaugural ceremony began with a chadarposhi of a female craftswoman Malookan Mai who belongs to Hindu minority in the Cholistan. She is a bona-fide artisan in the tradition patchwork of cloths from Cholistan termed as rilli. She has dedicated 30 years of her life to this craft. The concept of chaddarposhi - putting on someone a shawl is traditional denoted to respect and honour and it is quite common in the sub-continent especially in Pakistan.

It is the tradition at Lok Virsa that the women artisans are honoured with chaddarposhi while the men with dastarbandi - putting on a turban on their heads.

All the Lok Virsa festivals open with a colourful ceremony in which dastarbandi or chadarposhi of an established master artisan takes place. This ceremony is a way of proclaiming Lok Virsa’s commitment to the high stature that craftspeople have in cultural mainstream of the nation.
The chadarposhi followed by brilliant cultural performances presented by the Cholistani authentic folk singers including Krishan Lal Bheel, Mai Noori and Moon Bhagat who is the son of renowned folk artist Faqir Bhagat, the recipient of President’s Medal for Pride of Performance.
Speaking on the occasion, the Royal Norwegian Ambassador to Pakistan Robert Kvile said that Norway attached high importance to the development of Pakistan because five percent of its population belonged to the people from this beautiful country. Both the countries differ in many respects including politics, history and culture, and geographically far apart, he said adding, but there are many bonds that have been created during the four decades of cooperation between the two countries.

The Ambassador was of the view that culture was one of their priority areas to help Pakistan preserve and strengthen its rich cultural heritage as no society can thrive without culture - the main fabric of the society and the basis for its stability.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Sacred Month of Zul-Hijja - - Month of Reciting Takbeer and Seeking Allah's Forgiveness

The Sacred Month of Zul-Hijjah:

The Month of Zul-Hijjah is the last month of the Islamic calendar. It means ‘the month of Hajj’. This name of the month indicates that the great annual worship of ‘Hajj’ is performed in this month. For this reason, it has a peculiar significance as compared to the other months of the year.

The first ten days of Zul-Hijjah are extremely sacred and good deeds are most beloved to Allah in these ten days.

The Prophet said, “No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on these (first ten days of Dhal Hajja).” Then some companions of the Prophet said, “Not even Jihad?” He replied, “Not even Jihad”, except that of a man who does it by putting himself and his property in danger (for Allah’s sake) and does not return with any of those things.”(Bukhari 15: 86)

For those not performing Hajj, it is Mustahabb (desirable) to fast on this day according to their own calendar. It sometimes occurs that the date of 9th Zul Hijjah falls on different days in different countries according to the sighting of the moon.

The fast of ‘Yaumal Arafah’ has been emphasized by the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) as a Mustahabb (desirable act). According to a Hadith, the fast of this day becomes a cause, Inshallah, of forgiveness for sins committed in one year.

When asked about the fast of 9th ZulHajjah (Yaum e Arafah) Rasool Allah saw said: “It expiates the sins of the preceding year and the coming year” (Muslim 6: 2603)

From the Fajr of the 9th of Zul Hijjah upto the Asr prayer of the 13th, it is obligatory on each Muslim to recite the Takbir-ut-Tashreeq in the following words:

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar,

La Illaha Illallahu, Wallahu Akbar,

Allahu Akbar wa Lillahilhamd.

(Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest,

There is no God except Allah and Allah is the greatest,

Allah is the Greatest and to Him belongs all praise.)

Ibn ‘Umar and Abu Hurayrah, two of the Prophet's Companions, used to go out in the marketplace during the first ten days of Zul-Hijjah, reciting Takbeer, and the people would recite Takbeer individually when they heard them.

Generally, all good deeds are rewarded highly at this blessed time. These actions include praying, reading Quran, making Dua (supplication), giving in charity and being good to our families.

In addition, seeking Allah's forgiveness at this time is also encouraged. This means more than just a verbal expression of sorrow for past misdeeds. It also requires a firm resolution to avoid making the same mistakes in the future by giving up bad habits and behavior while sincerely turning to Allah.

Hajj - Pilgrimage to Makkah:

The fifth pillar of Islam is to make a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah, in Saudi Arabia, at least once in one's lifetime. This pillar is obligatory for every Muslim, male or female, provided that he/she is physically and financially able to do so.

Prerequisites for performing the Hajj are to be a Muslim, to be free, to be an adult or mature enough, to be of sound mind, and to have the ability to afford the journey and maintain one's dependents back home for the duration. The reward for the Hajj is nothing less than Paradise.

The Hajj is the ultimate form of worship, as it involves the spirit of all the other rituals and demands of the believer great sacrifice. On this unique occasion, nearly two million Muslims from all over the globe meet one another in a given year. A total of 160,000 pilgrims from Pakistan will come for Hajj this year, 130,000 of them arriving on Pakistan International Airlines, Khurram Mushtaq, PIA General Manager, told Saudi Gazette.

The airline is bringing pilgrims from Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore and Sialkot, he said, adding that 24,000 pilgrims will travel on Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Regardless of the season, pilgrims wear special clothes (Ihram) - two, very simple, unsown white garments - which strips away all distinctions of wealth, status, class and culture; all stand together and equal before Allah (God).

The rites of Hajj, which go back to the time of Prophet Ibrahim who built the Ka'bah, are observed over five or six days, beginning on the eighth day of the last month of the year, named Zul-Hijjah (pilgrimage). These rites include circumambulating the Ka'bah (Tawaf), and going between the mountains of Safa and Marwah, as Haajra (Ibrahim's wife) did during her search for water for her son Isma'il. This act is called “Sa’ai”. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafah and join in prayers for God's forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Last Judgment. The pilgrims also cast stones at a stone pillar which represents Satan. The pilgrimage ends with a festival, called Eid Al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers, the sacrifice of an animal, and the exchange of greetings and gifts in Muslim communities everywhere.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Khewra Salt Mines -- Second Largest in The World


The salt at Khewra reaches the surface; it was discovered as early as the days of Alexander the Great. According to a legend there was a battle between Alexander the Great and Raja Poro in this area. After Alexander had won the battle, the soldiers were resting. They soon mentioned that the horses were licking the ground in a certain area. Here the salt reached the surface and the ground contained more salt than in general, which the horses found out.

Long ago the locals started to mine the salt on the surface, in small opencast mines. In 1872 Dr. Warth, a renowned British mining engineer, built the first tunnel at ground level to access the salt layers. He introduced room and pillar mining which is used until today. At the moment salt is mined in 19 different levels, producing about 325,000 tons per year.


Khewra Salt Mines is a salt mine in Pakistan, about 160 kilometers from Islamabad and 260 kilometers from Lahore. It attracts up to 40,000 visitors per year and is the second biggest salt mine in the world. Situated at the foothills of the Salt Range, Khewra Salt Mines are the oldest in the salt mining history of the sub-continent.
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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Waheed Murad: The Chocolate Hero of Pakistani Cinema

Waheed Murad: The Chocolate Hero of Pakistani Cinema
He was born as a hero, with a proverbial silver spoon in his mouth; he lived as a hero and died as a hero, though a tragic one. He was none other than our own Waheed Murad
Pakistani show business is rich with tales of legendary artists who risked all to chase their dreams. Their vision and perseverance won them success. Here is a true-life story of one such actor, the great Waheed Murad.
'The brain is wider than the sky.' Said Emily Dickinson. Let us explore how the great Waheed Murad used his intelligence to come up with the greatest movies of all time.
Waheed Murad’s style of acting and his picturization of songs in films were inimitable and were even copied in the Indian film industry. Murad is still remembered as the chocolate hero of the Pakistani silver screen.
Early Days and Education:
Waheed Murad, the only child of well-off film distributor Mr. Nisar Murad and Shireen Murad, was born on October 2, 1938. He got his early education from Karachi Grammar School or Marie Colaco School, Karachi, did graduation from S.M. Arts College Karachi, and then masters in English literature from University of Karachi. 

Dwelling on his personal life, Waheed Murad's mother tongue was Punjabi. His height was five feet, eleven inches and his weight was one hundred fifty eight pounds, when he was in good health.
Professional Career:
In his twenty- three- year movie career, 1960- 1983, Waheed Murad worked in one hundred twenty three movies.
His unparalleled style in the then Pakistan's vibrant cinema appealed to the masses. In the words of Ilyas Rashdi, founder of Nigar Awards, 'Waheed Murad was a born hero.'
Waheed Murad stepped into Pakistani cinema as a filmmaker. His first film as producer was 'Insaan badalta hai', in 1961. His second production was 'Jab say dekha hai tumhain', in 1963.
As an actor he was firstly appeared in a supporting role in 1962's Aulad directed by S.M. Yousuf. The film got the Nigar award for the best film for the year. ‘Heera aur Pathar’ in 1964 was his first movie as lead actor and his major breakthrough film. He got the Nigar award in the best actor category for the same film. 
Waheed Murad's romantic-tragic characters created Pakistani cinema's most enduring and beloved personas. Essentially, Waheed Murad's movies are the essence of his creative spirit, the vital force of the human heart. Also, partly it was the sheer novelty of him.

He cheered up the silver screen with his extraordinary talent in acting and picturisation especially in romantic songs. Some of the songs that still turn many nostalgic are ‘Tumhain kaisay bata doon’, ‘Kuch log rooth kar bhi’, ‘Dil tumko dey diya’, ‘Koko korina’, ‘Jhoom aye dil wo tera jaan-e-bahar aye ga’, ‘Beetay huway khuch din aisay hain tanhai jinhain duhrati hey’, ‘Mujhe tum nazar say gira to rahay ho’, ‘Yun kho gaiy teray pyar mein hum’, ‘Socha tha piyar na karan gain’, ‘Khamosh hein nazaray’ and ‘Aye abre karam aaj itna baras’.
Reverting to the show business, movies like 'Eid Mubarak', 1965 and 'Kaneez', 1965, are still fresh in the minds of moviegoers. They have stories to tell.
For the sake of record, Waheed Murad and Zeba paired off in seventeen movies.

Waheed Murad and Shabnam teamed off in thirteen movies.
Waheed Murad and Rani worked together in twenty movies.
Waheed Murad and Shamim Ara appeared together in twelve movies.
Waheed Murad and Deeba acted together in thirteen movies.
'Armaan' is the most popular film of Waheed Murad and Zeba, which also happens to be the first platinum jubilee film of Pakistan.
In fact, Waheed Murad captured the high spirits of one of the country's most- loved songs, while picturing 'Akele na jana' on him and Zeba. He was absolutely, unequivocally as successful as an actor could be in the Pakistani movies.
Waheed Murad appeared as villain in only one film ‘Sheeshe ka Ghar’. His last film is ‘Hero’, which was released after his death in 1985.
Recognition of His Talent:
Waheed Murad earned the Nigar Award in 1964 for best actor in 'Heera aur pathar'.
Waheed Murad earned the Nigar Award in 1966 for best actor in 'Armaan.'
Waheed Murad earned the Nigar Award in 1969 for best actor in 'Andaleeb.'
Waheed Murad earned the Nigar Award in 1971 for best actor in 'Mastana mahi.'
Waheed Murad As Family Man:
Waheed Murad fell in love with Salma, a daughter of Karachi based industrialist and a Memon Ibrahim Maker, when both were in grade nine in Grammar School, Karachi. Their marriage took place on Thursday, September 17, 1964. The wedding ceremony was arranged at Nisar Murad's house in Tariq Road, Karachi.

He addressed his wife as Bibi at home.They had two daughters (Aaliya and Sadia) and one son (Adil). Sadia died in infancy and both Waheed Murad and Salma were become inconsolable. However, their two children, Aalia and Adil brought happiness and comfort to their lives. 
Craze Among Young Generation:
He loved to drive very fast. He mostly drove a Mercedes and a Volk's wagon.
Waheed was the first Rock n' Roll dancing star in South Asia. He was famously known as the 'Chocolate Hero' and 'Lady Killer'. His dressing style, the hair style, dialogues and songs used to be liked and followed by people. Waheed's hair cut was very popular among the young and was called the 'Waheed Murad cut'. In his hay days Waheed once went to Saddar area of Karachi in his white car. Realising it was Murad’s car; a group of 30 college girls covered the vehicle with lipstick kisses.
Last Days of Waheed Murad:
He had been living with his self-professed sister Mrs., Mumtaz Ayub at Defense housing society, Karachi in his last days.
He had been suffering from peptic ulcer for quite a while. But the cause of his death was a serious accident at Ravi Road, Lahore in November 1983. He was scheduled to undergo plastic surgery at Mid East Hospital, Clifton, Karachi, on Thursday, November 24, 1983, which never took place. 
This legendary actor in Armaan (1966) had earnestly urged Zeba not to go alone for how will he be able to live without her (Akele na jana hamein chorr ker tum, tumharay bina hum bhala kia jeeain gay). Ironically, on Wednesday, the 23rd of November, 1983, presumably between 2.00 a.m. and 3.00 am in the morning he decided to leave for the farewell journey all alone leaving millions of his admirers in tears.
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