Literature is the reflection of a communal mind of any nation and Seraiki poetry is an excellent example of this phenomenon, shares Dr Nukhba Taj Langah, chairperson of the Seraiki National Party. Langah is passionate about the struggle for an empowered Seraikistan which she inherited from her father late Taj Muhammad Langah. She moderated the LLF session titled ‘Reflections of Seraiki Literature’ with Ashiq Buzdar, Riffat Abbas and Rana Mahboob Akhtar. The hall was packed to capacity comprising mostly the Seraiki students enrolled in different academic institutions of Lahore.
During the session, Langah summed up that more than 90 per cent of the poetry produced by Seraiki poets is about resistance. And there is a reason behind this. The Seraikis have been slaves for more than 5000 years and they have expressed the tyranny of oppressors and their own helplessness through literature — whether it is poetry or prose. She points out that sense of deprivation and pangs of separation can be found in different genres of Seraiki poetry. For example maahiye, dohray and kaafis express these feelings in a unique way.
Saen Ashiq Buzdar from Rajan Pur Meher Wala, who is a very popular Seraiki nationalist and resistant poet, recited his famous poem Assan Qaidi Takht Lahore De amid applause at the LLF. Even the school-going kids in the region know this poem by heart which talks volumes of the atrocities of the Punjabi establishment. Buzdar says he has been organising the Seraiki Mela for the last 28 years and can easily claim that Seraiki literature is far richer than the literature in other local languages. “We belong to the Indus Valley civilisation. Our forefathers were highly civilised and educated at times when the rest of the world was struggling to even crawl.’’
Buzdar proudly claims that Seraiki literature published over the last two years is more than that published in any other Pakistani language. The Academy of Letters has also confirmed this. Folk tales, songs, ballads, marsias, novels, poems, travelogues etc have all been produced in abundance over this time.
Also read: Jazz notes from Bombay and Karachi
Riffat Abbas, a popular Seraiki poet and intellectual, terms kafi the gem of Seraiki poetry. The great Sufi Saints Baba Bulleh Shah, Sachal Sarmast, Shah Hussain etc. had written kafis which gave the concept of religion which taught love for the mankind. Today the maulvi, the establishment and the state uses religion to exploit people and invaders from Arab, Iran and Afghanistan have interpreted it differently.
Rana Mahboob Akhtar, a journalist and intellectual from Seraiki Wasaib, dispelled the impression that Seraiki is just a dialect of Punjabi rather than a complete language. “If it had been a dialect, Seraiki would have been a thing of past by now.”