Shah Hussain (1538-1599) was a Punjabi poet and a saint. He was the pioneer of the Kafi form of Punjabi poetry.
By: Rana Latif | Published in The Nation March 29, 2009
LAHORE – Mela Chiraghan, festival of light marking the 421st annual Urs of Hazrat Shah Hussain (RA), a saint with a different trait and a mystic poet of Punjabi with distinction, commonly known as Madhu Lal Hussain who lived in Lahore in 16th century (1538-1599), began with traditional fervour at Shalimar, Saturday evening.
It is perhaps the biggest festival of Punjab after the Urs of Data Ganj Bakhsh (RA) and Baba Farid (RA) of Pakpattan. Mela Chiraghan has many distinctions particularly the singing of ‘kafi’ of Shah Hussain in Punjab, who was perhaps the pioneer of Kafi that carried rich intellectual and spiritual values.
He himself sang his own kafis before the people bringing big applause. His kafis reflect the defiant attitude and independence of thought, away from the contemporary thoughts of religious and social hierarchy. The whirling dervishes on the tunes of drums sing kafis at the Mela. It is a rare event of whirling and dancing on the beats of drum. Its rhythm is a heart catching as Shah Hussain’s Kafis carry rich musical values and element of entertainment, liked by folk of Punjab.
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Lahore 's culture is unique. Known as the cultural capital and also the Heart of Pakistan, it is no wonder that Lahorites will capitalize on any reason to celebrate. This is a city with an indomitable zest for living and it shows in the various festivals throughout the year.
The biggest, or perhaps the best known, festival is that of Bassant held in February each year. Bassant is a Punjabi festival celebrating the onset of the spring season. This festival is celebrated with kite flying competitions all over the city especially in the Androon-E-Shehr (The Inner City or the Walled City ) area (See Trip Advisor Insider Page on Lahore’s Museums and Attractions). The sky is literally filled with colorful kites of all shapes and sizes flown from rooftops. The kites are flown on strings called “Dorr” which is a special thread with cut glass embedded within which serves to cut the thread of competitor kites more effectively! Due to this, walking around with band-aids on ones’ hands due to the thread cutting one’s hands is considered quite macho amongst the city’s young men and women! Some of the kite-flying competitions get extremely competitive and serious! All the ladies wear a bright yellow and dress up to the hilt. This festival has gained more and more importance over the years and now attracts people from all over the world.
Mela Chiraghan (The Festival of Lights) is held on the last Friday of March so it is basically close to Bassant and also celebrates the onset of the spring season. This isanother important festival in Lahore and is celebrated outside the Shalimar Gardens (See Trip Advisor Insider Page on Lahore’s Museums and Attractions).
The National Horse and Cattle Show is one of the most famous annual festivals, held in the spring season at the Fortress Stadium (See Trip Advisor Insider Page on Lahore ’s Shopping). The week-long activities include a livestock display, horse and camel dances, tent pegging, colorful folk dances from all regions of Pakistan , mass-band displays, and tattoo shows in the evenings.
The World Performing Arts Festival is held every autumn (usually in November) at the Alhambra Cultural Complex, a large venue consisting of several theatres and amphitheatres. This ten-day festival consists of musicals, theatre, concerts, dances, solos, mime and puppet shows. The festival has an international flavor with nearly 80 percent of the shows performed by international performers. On average 15-20 different shows are performed every day of the festival.
Other than these, the Lahorites also celebrate national festivals, some of which are religious (such asEid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha) and others are nationalistic (such as the Day of Independence on August 14th).
Suffice it to say that Lahore is a city whose inhabitants that is always in a festive mood!
There are many events and festivals held in Lahore as well as throughout all of Pakistan.
The World Performing and Visual Arts Festival that was held in 2005 was one of the greatest events sponsored by the Rafi Peer Group to date. But don’t worry, because this organization has hosted many events in Lahore, and will continue to do so in the future. Check their Website for upcoming events.
The Basant Festival that is held in Lahore every year is a celebration that marks the beginning of spring. Kite flying is a major part of this event, as colorful paper creations fill the sky during the day and night. Garden parties and equestrian events are also part of this tradition.
The National Horse and Cattle show takes over the city’s attention for an entire week, every year during spring. The event is held in the Fortress Stadium, and displays the country’s best bred horses and cattle. Activities include shows, games and folk dancing.
The Karakoram Car Rally’s closing ceremonies were first held in Lahore in 2001, and plans are to bring it back to the city in the future.
Lahore Theater Festival
JukeBox Pakistan, is going to organize “Lahore Theater Festival 2011” from December 28 to Dec 31, 2011 at Alhamra Cultural Complex, Qaddafi Stadium Lahore. It will be the Lahore wide Theater Festival and more than 30 teams from top Universities and Professional Theaters of Lahore are participating. Renown Theater Gurus and celebs will be the guest of honor however Governor Punjab is expected as a chief Guest to encourage the fresh talent.
For more information about the many events held throughout the year in Pakistan, check out the Festivals Page.
There is an online events directory called Danka, Pakistan's Cultural Guide, where all ongoing events, from music concerts, art exhibitions, festivals, fairs, poetry, theatre or dance events are listed together with the cultural locations and artists. The directory caters all cities in Pakistan with a clear focus on Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. Danka's website is www.danka.pk.