Different aspects of a region’s culture include social organization, customs and traditions, a religion that the people follow, language and dialect that the people use, forms of art and literature in that region, type of government or administration and economic system that prevail in that particular region. Saraiki culture combined with Indus Valley culture as well as Persian and Muslim influences has a very rich history along with its own language and traditions.
The Saraiki region formed part of the Indus Valley civilization more than 40,000 years ago. This region has been conquered a number of times by people from the West including the Aryans and the Greeks. Persian influence remained strong for many centuries with the Saraikis as well as Persian art, poetry and architecture still form a part of their culture. When Muslims conquered the region, Islam spread and this region became an important Islamic center. At the time of independence of Pakistan in 1947, Muslims constituted between 90 to 75% of the population of Saraiki speaking region of West Pakistan and the Muslims of East Punjab were also around 45% and nearly all migrated to Pakistan and other areas. Saraiki is one of the three dialects spoken in Sindh. In past, all Saraiki areas were part of one single administrative entity called Multan but now it exists as a district that is why it is also known as the mother of all Saraiki areas. Among the different ethnic groups in Pakistan, 8.38% are Saraiki.
Nearly 99% population in these regions are Muslims and the majority are Sunnis whereas Shia sect is also there but in considerable size. This region is mainly home to Sufism and has the shrines of Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya and Hazrat Shah Rukn e Alam. Other Sufi saints such as Ghulam Farid and Muhammad Suleman Taunsvi are also very popular and especially the tomb of Sakhi Sarwar. There are more than twenty translations of the Quran in Saraiki as well. A large majority of Saraikis are Muslims with smaller Hindu, Sikh and Christian Communities.
Saraiki Language has emerged from several dialects since the creation of Pakistan. Saraiki (Perso-Arabic script) is a standardized language of Pakistan belonging to Indo-Aryan languages. It is spoken by the people in Saraiki-speaking regions combined known as Saraikistan. No proper documentation related to its unified identity is available, but it is based on a group of vernacular and historically written dialects spoken by over 18 million people. Mainly the Saraiki-speaking people form part of the Southernmost half and Northwest of Punjab, the southern districts of Dera Ismail Khan and also in areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the adjacent border region of Sindh and Baluchistan provinces and also spoken in Afghanistan.
There is a long list of famous poets in this region, and their work is commendable. Some of the famous poets are Sachal Sar Mast, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and Ghulam Farid. Still, a small volume of literature is available in the Saraiki language. The people of Bahawalpur, DG Khan, Multan, Sargodha and Dera Ismail Khan speak it as their first language. Whereas it is also understood and spoken widely as a second language in areas of Northern and Western Sindh, Karachi and also some parts of Baluchistan.
Much of the love in the culture of this region is due to the teachings of Sufis and religious leaders because there is love and peace everywhere in their words. Among these Sufis is Khwaja Ghulam Farid ( Kot Mittan ), Shah Rukne Alam ( Multan ), Shah Shams Tabreez (Multan ), Sakhi Sarwar Sarkar (DG khan ) and pir Jahania are noteworthy.
Similarly, Khwaja Ghulam Farid, Iqbal Sokari, Akbar Makhmoor, Ashu Lal Faqeer, Lutf Ali, Ahmad khan Tariq, Shakir Shuja Abadi, Shakir Mehrvi, Amanullah Arshad, Abdul Kareem Sajan, Mukhtiar Leghari and Abdul Rasheed Ushtar etc. in Saraiki literature are also noteworthy.
In Saraiki culture, men usually wear, Shalwar Kameez ,in addition many people also wear Patka and Lungi .In the old days walking around bareheaded was considered a vice and laborers must sat on the head of the elderly .Women’s wear Shalwar Kameez and a handscraf.
Multan is considered to be one of the oldest cities in South Asia, having a combination of old and new Pakistani culture. There are tombs, shrines, temples, cathedrals and also a historical fort. The main attractions of Multan are the mausoleums of Sufi saints such as Sheikh Bahauddin Zakariya and Shah Rukn e Alam. Other than mausoleums and shrines, there is Darawar fort on the outskirts of Bahawalpur in the Cholistan Desert and also Darbar Mahal in Bahawalpur.
Hospitality is one of the most important parts of Saraiki culture, Saag, Childa , Sohanjda, Sobat , Londak, Kajnaal, Alu Palak and chawal is very important in Saraiki cuisine. All these are very delicious and nutritious foods.
The Saraiki region is famous all over the world. The sweet mango here is your example Apart from that, the Dates, Palm, Berries, Pomegranate,Lasoda , Gondi and peels are different . And the fruits of the seasons are lovingly sent as gifts to relatives and friends in other cities.
Local Drinks include Lassi, sugar cane juice, gud syrup, pure almond winter, tortillas, Raw Lassi, Ambly syrup, Falsa syrup, Aloe vera syrup, which are sweet and delicious drinks that fill your chest with coolness and sweetness.
Kabaddi is a famous sport in the region.
Arts and Music
Different arts and crafts flourished in the urban areas of Multan and Bahawalpur, among which music and dance are important cultural elements and are part of most of the celebrations and ceremonies. Jhoomar is the traditional Saraiki folk dance that originated from Multan and Balochistan. This region has produced several talented people in the music industry. Songs in Saraiki mostly revolve around the beauty of the desert, and famous singers of this region include Attaullah Khan Essa Khailwi, Pathanay Khan and Abida Parveen.
While the musicians Include the great Attaullah khan ESA khelvi, Saieen Zahoor , who was nominated and won the best voice of the year 2006, Mansoor Malangi , Abida Parveen , Pathany Khan, Shiffaullah khan Rokhri. Saraiki music is still popular in Pakistan but sadly even this beautiful part of the Saraiki culture has gone unnoticed.
Most of the festivals are based on the Islamic calendar and the events are held for the remembrance of Sufi Saints and to commemorate the Muslim traditions in the region. Some of the festivals include:
- Sangh Mela is a Vaisakhi fair celebrated during March and April in Sakhi Sarwar by people coming from Jhang and Faisalabad. It is celebrated especially at the time of wheat harvesting and it is also known as Basant in some areas.
- Pir Adil Mela is celebrated at the shrine of Hazrat Pir Adil and the national horse and cattle show is also sometimes merged with this mela. It is usually celebrated in February every year for ten days.
Most of the people belong to either the caste of Jat or Rajput and others are Baloch by origin e.g. Arain, Ansari, Dhareja, Khosa, Leghari, etc. Other Jat and Rajput clans are Bhatti, Malik, Chisti, etc.
Even after living together with people having other identities such as Punjabi, Balochi, Sindhi, and Pathan; there is still a dispute going on regarding the identity and language of the Saraiki people. This dispute of having a separate identity and language and traditions has been going on since after the independence of Pakistan. Even so not proper information is available and people still want their Saraiki identity to be known to people like people know Punjabi is an identity. Saraiki culture is a rich culture having very old and deep roots as it combines old and new customs from the invasions as well as Pakistani and modern influences. Saraiki regions are known for tombs and shrines of Sufis mainly and people visit these areas to pay homage to these people at their shrines and to attend Urs arranged to commemorate their contributions to the development of the society. This region contains beautiful landmarks and tourism can also be promoted to create more awareness about these regions and about their culture. Most importantly as people have nowadays easy access to the internet, more information should be available to promote and educate people about the beautiful Saraiki culture.