February 15, 2020

Culture of Pakistan

Adnan Shafi

Many writers translate the word ‘Pakistan’ as ‘Land of the Pure’; this is incorrect. The word Pakistan consists of two parts, i.e., Pak and Istan. While Pak is a Persian word, which means holy, pure, clean, the word Istan is from the word isthan, which is a Hindi word meaning a place. For example ‘Janum Isthan’ means the place of birth. So the word Pakistan means a holy/ pure/ clean place (country) and not the ‘Land of the Pure’. The word Pak is an adjective that describes ‘Istan’ (Isthan), place and not its inhabitants. As part of India’s independence from Great Britain in 1947, a partition took part of their land and created Pakistan as a separate Islamic nation. It is estimated that nearly 95 percent of the population is Muslim, but members of several minority religions live there, including some Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, and Buddhists. Although the modern nation of Pakistan was but fifty-three years old in 2000, it has territorial areas and tribal populations whose histories date back many centuries; thus Pakistan has both an ancient and a relatively new identity. Referring to the language spoken in Pakistan is Urdu. It is the only official language of Pakistan, English is the lingua franca of the Pakistani Illuminati and most of the government ministries, So it is not unusual for companies to use English as their internal business language. Indisputably, many other languages are spoken but Urdu is closely related to Hindi but is written in an extended Arabic alphabet rather than in Devanagari. Urdu also has more loans from Arabic and Persian than Hindi has. The other languages spoken in Pakistan are Siraiki, Sindhi, Pashtu, Balochi, Balti, Khawar, Gujrati, Burushaski, Hindko, Punjabi, etc. Certainly, Pakistan has an affluent culture of arts and crafts which have in some cases been traced back to the artistic culture of Indus Valley civilization. Arabic calligraphy – This beautiful art form, which takes years of dedication to learn, has its roots in Islam. Arabic calligraphy can be found adorning most celebrated places such as mosques and important buildings. Most families will have calligraphy displayed in their homes. This art form also extends to calligraphy on copper pieces, which are widely used as ornaments in homes and public buildings. Naqashi – This art form is essentially a form of papier-mache, which was much loved by the Mughal Emperors. Naqashi artisans typically use a fine and intricate form of decoration which is said to impact vision in the long term if practiced over too long a time scale. This use of fine detail is also replicated in the crafting of camel skin in lampshade making. The lampshades are unique and much sought after. Glass Chooriyan is another popular and much-loved art form in Pakistan which involves the use of glass and other materials to produce beautifully adorned bangles. Pottery – The production of handcrafted and artistically decorated pottery is just one of the arts with its roots in the Indus Valley civilization. Blue Pottery is a specialist craft which is particularly influenced by Kashgar in China and celebrated for being a unique and unparalleled art form. Coming to the Climate, indeed there are some distinct climatic differences depending on where you are in Pakistan, the climate is generally temperate and consists of three seasons which include Summer, Winter, and Monsoon. The extremes of these seasons vary depending on location. If visiting, avoid the Monsoon period as the rain can play havoc with the local infrastructure and prevent you from getting around as easily as you might wish. It is typically dry and hot in the south of the country and mild in the northern parts of the country. Islam is practiced by the majority of Pakistanis and governs their personal, political, economic and legal lives. Among certain obligations for Muslims are to pray five times a day – at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening. Friday is the Muslim holy day. Everything is closed. During the holy month of Ramadan, all Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk and are only permitted to work six hours per day. Fasting includes no eating, drinking, cigarette smoking, or gum chewing. In addition to the declaration of national holidays when Pakistan wins key international cricket matches, Pakistan also has 6 formal national holidays.
Pakistan is known as the land of poetry. Having a diverse culture, It may not be feasible to deal with every bit. To that end, Pakistan’s culture is endowed in traditions and its people distinctive in its way of life.
The most famous festival in Pakistan is unquestionably the seasonal kite flying festival of ‘Basant’ which marks the beginning of Spring and falls late January or early February. Unfortunately, however, this festival has been banned in many areas for the immediate future due to accidents and deaths associated with the festival. It is hoped that the implementation of relevant safety measures will enable this much-loved festival to resume. Another much-loved festival is the annual ‘Utchal’ festival which is held on the 15th – 16th July to celebrate the harvesting of wheat and barley. The National Horse and Cattle Show is a five-day festival held in Lahore during the third week of November. This is an exciting pageant of Pakistani culture and involves activities such as folk dancing, music, folk games and activities, cattle racing and cattle dancing. With lots to do for children and adults alike, it is a much-adored festival. There is no caste system in Pakistan. There are high-income, middle-income and a large number of low-income persons throughout the country. Locale makes an important difference in the quality of life; a low-income person in an urban area has more problems than one living in a tribal, mountainous area. There have been and continue to be a number of social development shortcomings in Pakistan, but in recognition of them, the government in 1992–1993 initiated the Social Action Program (SAP) to make social development and social services available to all levels of the Pakistanis. Reports show that while some had benefited, the rural people who were meant to benefit mostly did not. Some of the program’s expenditures were for elementary education, primary health, welfare, and rural water supply and sanitation. It is believed that many people do not understand the purpose and scope of the SAP and that substantial changes must be made in the program if it is to be successful. In Pakistan, the mother is the main caregiver for any children and they will typically spend the majority of time with her. The extended family also plays a key role in a child’s socialization and will support the child’s care. Islamic understanding, observing Islamic duties (such as prayer and ablution), respect for elders and gender roles are imbued from early childhood. Meeting and greetings are often between members of the same sex; however, when dealing with people in the middle class, greetings may be across gender lines. Men shake hands with each other. Once a relationship is developed, they may hug as well as shake hands. Women generally hug and kiss. Pakistanis take their time during greetings and ask about the person’s health, family, and business success. Literature has its own recognition in Pakistan. It comes after the India Pakistan partition. Basic main two types of literature, Urdu literature and English literature of South Asia over a period of time. A body of literature became unique and Pakistan has emerged in nearly all major languages of Pakistan is Urdu, English, Punjabi, Pashto, Seraiki, Balochi and Sindhi. Pakistani Academy of the letter is the main official platform of Pakistani literature. Poetry is nowadays art and profession in Pakistan. It was originated in the Persian empire. After the independence poetry is written in Urdu language and also regional language. Faiz Ahmad is considered to have been Pakistan’s greatest poet. Pakistan is known as the land of poetry. Having a diverse culture, It may not be feasible to deal with every bit. To that end, Pakistan’s culture is endowed in traditions and its people distinctive in its way of life.
(The author a resident of Chandrigam Tral of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district has mailed this article to “Kashmir Horizon”. Views are exclusively his own, ashafi128@gmail.com)

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