Memories of Khanabadosh 2016

Monday, March 28, 2016

“Khana Badosh” is a journey from Lahore through to Karachi, visiting important places in central and South Punjab, Sindh, Tharparkar, and Karachi in the process. The trip is supported by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) and the Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences (MGSHSS) for the promotion of cultural activities. The Government of Sindh has always been extremely generous in facilitating the tour in all ways including logistics, security, and other problems that might come up.

Usually lasting between 12 and 14 days, this journey by road is an immense experience in itself, providing unparalleled opportunities for learning and exposure. Participants engage with communities from across the country, delving deeply into the characteristics of each site they visit. Each community’s, and each place’s, architecture, aesthetics, language, spirituality, and history are all avenues for research and study in themselves – KhanaBadosh is proud to provide a platform for both students and faculty to investigate such opportunities in the fields of economics, sociology, anthropology, literature, arts, or architecture to name a few.

The itinerary included; Data Sahib, Lahore; Bulleh Shah’s Shrine, Kasur; Baba Farid Ganj Shakar’s shrine, Pakpattan; Shah Rukn-e-Alam and other shrines, Multan; tomb of Bibi Jaiwindi, Uch Shareef; Cholistan desert; Sukkhar, Sindh; temples on Sadh Bhelo Island in River Indus; Sathiyan; Kalka Cave Temple, Arore, Sindh; Shrine of Sachal Sarmast, Daraza; Local temples in Shikarpur; Pujh Udasin Samadah Ashram near Shikarpur; Shrine of Bibi Benazir Bhutto, Garhi Khuda Baksh, Larkana; Moenjodaro; Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander, Sehwan Sharif; Manchar Lake, Sindh; Panjtan Bagh; Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s shrine, Bhit Shah; Shrine of Uderolal; Marvi’s well, Thar desert; Umerkot; Jain temples in Karonjhar Range and Nagar Parkar; Hindu temples in Makli; Shah Jahan Mosque, Thatta; Holy Trinity Cathedral and PIDC Protestant Church, Karachi; The Beach and Sadequain Gallery in Frere Hall, Karachi; and then finally back to Lahore with a night stay at Sukkhar. Interacting with countless communities belonging to a diverse range of social, economic, religious, and/or ethnic backgrounds provides unique opportunities both academically and otherwise.

Volunteers from previous journeys have been working on producing a collection of photo essays from South Punjab and Sindh, which shall be completed by the end of this year. A photo exhibition showcasing stories and lived experiences from this journey titled “Kashf; unveiling the relics of South Punjab and Sindh” was held from the 11th to 13th of March 2016.

Two students from MGSHSS, Kamil Jamil and Afnaan Qayyum recall their experience and the excitement which they experienced during this journey.

“We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No hearts beat to the rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, he would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others in an amount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme”- Shams Tabriz

Multan

It was such differences that embodied the entire journey from Lahore to Karachi and back- on bus. There was a host of varying cultures, customs, religions and people, which in fact was the essence of our trip. It made us realize that beauty lies not in cultural homogeneity but in the harmony of co-existing differences – and with respect to this trip, in our ability to assimilate ourselves with each of the unique cultures.

Khanabadosh 2016 was the third unique annual trip organized by HumAahang which gave the entire LUMS community a rare chance to visit over forty shrines, witness and be part of the Sufi traditions across Central and South Punjab and Sindh. We had set on a journey which was to give a different and a rather ignored perspective of the history and culture in our urban-centric view of the world.

Indeed the astoundingly rich and diverse array of cultures makes it close to impossible to mark one special moment and even more difficult is the task of containing it in words.

Shri Ban Khandi Maharaj Temple

How am I to choose between the kaleidoscope of temples, churches, mosques, shrines, monuments, palaces, graveyards, ruins, deserts, hills, lakes, beaches and the sea?

Sadh Bhelo

Bhit Shah

What do I select from the colourful myriad of qawalis, dhamals, dances, hymns, paintings, sculptures, vegetal and floral artworks, idols, holy books, ornate domes, minarets, walls, wells, and other works that exhibit what it means to simply, well, be? Our minds wandered in these moments to how life would be like for the peoples here. How do they live, and oh differently!

 

moenjodaro

These were sparks of revelations. These instances of discovery within ourselves were the epitome of the journey. One such moment was during our dinner in Mohenjo-Daro. I recall feeling as if I was being transported back into a time when these ruins were still full of life- my surroundings dissolving into a vision of a Harrapan home with a family tucking into a warm meal. With every step we took forward, we became more and more absorbed in the journey. It was an experience of a lifetime; an insight not only into oneself but also in humanity.

cholistan

The surroundings indeed were outstanding, but it was really the people who breathed soul into it.At every point of interaction with the locals, an overwhelming goodness struck us; an excess into beauty. Their hospitality struck us. On even the minutest of our needs, they went out of the way to facilitate us. During our stay in Cholistan, we had informed a few locals about our arrival and expected nothing apart from a casual arrangement for the night stay. As we came closer to our destination (temporary, of course- in light of our Khanabadoshi), we noticed lights and people gathered around a tent in the middle of the desert. Most of us had assumed it to be a wedding festival. However, upon our arrival we realized that the entire village (both Kabir Panthis and Muslims) had gathered and a huge tent had been set up only to welcome us. Not only were we welcomed in the warmest of ways, but the entire arrangement was spectacular. Despite their meagre resources, there was singing, dancing, gymnastics, fire-breathing, speeches and marvellous food laid out for us. Harmony within their customs had outshone even our wildest imaginations.

khanabadosh 1

Before the trip had started, we were clueless as to what we should expect out these twelve days. Indeed, our cluelessness helped lose ourselves in the pursuit of becoming lost within multiple worlds. The simplicity and harmony of the peoples in turn assisted in making this transition easier.

khanabadosh 2

Yet, their simplicity and the fact that these people lived far in the desert of Cholistan which hardly crosses our thoughts and concern did not indicate reciprocity in naivety and unawareness.

At several instances, we realized that these people were far more informed and better connected with themselves i.e. their histories. Hence, they had a much deeper understanding of life and its various aspects than we did. We, the amateur Khanabadoshis took back a treasure of knowledge and lessons from the entire experience.

The valuable experience that we took back also enlightened another aspect in dire need of attention- that there was a desperate need to reconnect with ourselves by exploring more of the past. That is requisite to progress as a whole. We must delve into the roots that hold together the societal fabric. Sadly, we have largely ignored our very foundations when we constitute an image of the people in our minds. For this connectivity, research is essential but unfortunately not enough of it is conducted.

sathiyan

We need not to look over the frontiers for models of development, but rather into our own history and culture, and how we need for reconnect without past in order to move forward.

sadh-bhelo-2

Environmental problems can wipe out entire civilizations. We need to make the current climatic change and the water crises into our top priority for the present and coming generations.

Jumping across time and space, I’ve realized that we are not that different from our ancestors and each other. Yes our culture might be different, but we are all faced with the same basic choices between right and wrong in our lives.

khanabadosh 4

Those people, those monuments, those shrines and worship places will remain as times pass. The variable is not their norms and customs, but the lens through which we decide to look at them. That decisively is the objective of the research agenda. To explore various anthropological aspects using lenses of different theoretical grounds that may range from subjective arenas like feminism, environmentalism to positivist research on the workings of the economic structures present in the societies.

 

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