West indian culture

Experiencing culture | Bis

Pakistani culture, if it can be considered as an entity, may have existed at the official level. Groundswell dynamics challenged this top-down build, however. At the same time, the lobby that cuts back on cultural practices in accordance with the Puritan reading of religion sees all of this as excess and indulgence. It favors a rectilinear cultural profile, built around prescribed religious rituals.

From the very beginning, there has been a desire to build the political structure of a unitary state. Culture and all its manifestations are meant to reinforce this unitary ideological and institutional arrangement. It is a sort of deviation from the path of the struggle for freedom which invests powers in the provinces, allowing them to choose their political destination(s). An uneasy truce between the two has resulted in numerous compromises and censorship measures exercised in the name of an imaginary ideological structure. An increasingly straitjacketed ideological framework was supposed to fill the void created by the denial of individual and provincial rights.

In the beginning, there was a struggle between West Pakistani and Bengali culture; the latter was presented as a poor relative. The two, at times, were pitted against each other and the Bengalis were seen to fall short of the imaginary cultural construct of the newly born country.

Bengali culture was generally labeled as being too Hindu and Bengalis accused of failing to recognize the threat of Indian conspiracies hatching to alienate them from the imagined culture, best exemplified by the West, mainly Punjabi and Urdu speaking migrants who flooded the earth. to the score.

Urdu was thrown against Bengali. However, Bengalis challenged the narrative that Urdu was the (only) language of South Asian Muslims. A majority of the people of East Bengal were thus alienated. Much later, Bengali was accepted as the country’s second national language. The wound had by then become too deep to be healed by half remedies. A monument erected for those who died protesting for language rights has finally become a standard pilgrimage for visitors to West Pakistan.

In the beginning, there was a struggle between West Pakistani and Bengali culture. The two were sometimes opposed, with the Bengalis seen as falling short of the imaginary cultural construct of the newly born country.

The Bengalis loved their folk music but their passion for classical forms was not secondary to it. Most gharanedargawaiyas survived the first two decades by performing extensively in East Pakistan, thereby securing a secure economic existence that West Pakistan could not provide.

Films continued to be shot in Lahore in the color of the film genre which had evolved from the theatrical tradition with lots of song and dance.

The people of West Pakistan did not really appreciate poets who wrote in Bengali. The mainstream media continued to proclaim that those who wrote in Urdu were somehow superior to those who wrote in Punjabi, Sindhi, Brahavi, Baloch or Pashto. Bengali-loved Tagore and Nazrul Islam didn’t get much attention in West Pakistan where Iqbal got all the limelight.

Many painters quickly moved from rendering characters from Indian mythology to painting Mughal or Persian miniatures and local heroes from Punjab and Sindh. Chughtai’s days as a painter of Indian mythology have been treated as an example of absent youth. In his chaste middle age, he bonded with Mani and Behzad. Likewise, there has been an effort to exclude mythological figures from song texts. Some ragas were banned and in many cases the nomenclature was changed.

It emerged then that national identity was based on the difference between the country and India and that the new rulers, even those who occupied cultural boundaries, were more concerned with the differences than the similarity within. They bent over backwards to establish a cultural profile which had its distinct contours and which in the process sacrificed much of what belonged to the land and was the result of a process based on syncretism. The fallout was felt less in Punjab and among Urdu-speaking communities and more in provinces that adopted local transitions.

It was therefore at the end of the second martial law and the first general elections that the edifice of the unitary state structure and the cultural narrative that accompanied it collapsed.


The writer is a cultural critic based in Lahore.


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