Below we present a speech by Mir Muhammad Ali Talpur on Sindh and its culture that was read-out on an occasion celebration Sindh Culture Day, in Dallas, Texas.
Respected Ladies and Gentleman,
I would first like to thank the organizers of the event for kindly according me the opportunity to talk to you on this Culture Day.
Celebrating Culture Days is now the trend for the nationalities that feel under threat of being sidelined by other more powerful nations. These occasions are used to reinforce the identity through various traditional symbols. Culture isn’t a day or a week thing it is a living part of our lives and needs to be continuously projected by our lives. Our love and attachment for it shouldn’t be reserved for these occasions only. Friedrich Nietzsche rightly said “It is not the strength but the duration of great sentiments that makes great men”. This holds true for nations too and is particularly important for Sindhi Nation as it is under threat from many sides.
Sindh and Sindhi people have a culture as old as the hills but it has been on the wane since last six decades due to various external influences and the inner intrinsic stagnancy. Culture that has seen Sindh through millenniums certainly needs to be promoted and protected by all who consider themselves a part of that honorable culture. To do this we have to first understand what culture is and then see what Sindhi culture is all about so that we can promote it not only by words but more importantly by our behavior and attitudes so that we may be able to put across the essence of Sindhi culture to those who have no knowledge or information about it and this is especially true for the Sindhi sisters and brothers living abroad.
Sindh is known as the land of Sufi mystics like Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Sachal Sarmast, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Shah Inayat and others who preached love for your land and people, tolerance, compassion, politeness, hospitality, standing up for your rights, honesty, speaking truth, and moreover fighting against injustice. This, in my view, is the essence of Sindhi culture and this is what Sindhis should represent in the way they live and conduct themselves wherever they may be.
Our culture is what we are; it is a reflection of our actions because culture isn’t something external it doesn’t exist independently of us. What we stand for, what we oppose and resist, what we believe in and how we conduct ourselves in our daily lives represent not only us but our culture as well. We cannot be judged apart from our culture and neither can our culture be judged apart from us. What we do and how we live represents our culture and if we do not live according to the essence of our culture then we should not blame people for misunderstanding or maligning Sindhi culture. We represent our culture with our actions and not with our words and empty platitudes. To be a Sindhi you have to live by the values that make you a Sindhi; Sindhi culture is what a Sindhi does.
Unfortunately culture day which should represent the glorious legacy which made and makes Sindhi culture something worth cherishing and respecting has been reduced to wearing of topi and ajrak along with dancing on Bollywood tunes. The topi and ajrak do not give us identity for it is people of Sindh who gave them an identity so just depending on them to express our culture is something which should be avoided and discouraged. It would indeed be a sad day for me if Sindh culture is reduced to just to topi, ajrak while the values that made us unique are forsaken.
Sindh, Sindhis and their culture is unimaginable without their beautiful Sindhi language. If we give up Sindhi we lose an essential part of ourselves and therefore it is our duty that we hold our language very dear and near to our heart so that this rich and beautiful language doesn’t go the way of languages that are expected to be lost this century. The children in Sindh should be taught in their own language which will make it easy for them and ensure that Sindhi continues to develop in keeping with modern times. Language is the soul of a nation.
To belittle Sindh and its people it has been propagated that Sindhi script and alphabet were a gift of Bartle Frere and unfortunately this is accepted as truth and is commonly believed. The facts are contrary to this myth. I have a Sindhi book of 1190 AH i.e. 1777 AD written in Sindhi; even Bartle Frere’s father John Frere wasn’t born then. In this book the alphabet used in it was on a separate page which will be displayed later for you to see and compare it with the present day alphabet.
The single most important thing for a people or culture is the land they live on and in this case it is Sindh. Without Sindh there would have been no Sindhis and no Sindhi culture so the ‘Love of Land’ is the basis of all culture. If there is disregard for Sindh there can be no love or respect for its culture. For Sindhis Sindh is sacred, it has to be sacred in the same way that Sindh was sacred for Makhdoom Bilawal who resisted Shah Baig Arghoon’s aggression in Sindh and after the Battle of Talti he preferred to be ground alive in an oil press on January 28th 1523 AD rather than see Sindh enslaved. Our Love for Sindh should be like him for if we have reservations in our love for it we will never ever be able to fulfill our obligations to it. If we do not love our land then our love for culture is a charade aimed at misleading people. If there is land there will be culture; if we give up on it culture will wither away.
Our love for our land should emulate Sassi’s love and quest for Punnuh. Shah Bhitai at one place said it all in words of Sassi. She says,
Halandi Hoth Punnuh Day
Pairan Pandh Kandiyas
Pairan Pandh Karan Chaddiyo
Ta Goddan Bhar Gissandiyas
Goddan Ghisskan Chaddiyo
Ta Chailh Bhar Churandiyas
Chail Churran Chaddiyo
Ta Thoothun Bhar Tirkandiyas
Thoothun Tirkan Chaddiyo
Ta Sissi Bhar Sirandiyas
Millia Ta Millandiyas
Na Ta Ghori Jaan Jatan Ta.
In quest of Punnoh
On my feeble feet shall I walk
When feeble feet refuse
Then on knees shall I crawl
When knees too cave in
Then with my waist shall I wriggle
When the waist too yields
Then on the elbows shall I crawl
When elbows too quit
Then on my head shall I roll
If I get to meet him; a Blessing tis will be
And if yet I meet him not
Then well sacrificed my life will be.