From Mohenjo-daro remains to folk tales: this virtual festival will bring Sindhis back to Sindh

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“In August 1947, nearly 12,000,000 Sindhis left their homes one fateful night, leaving their keys to their neighbours. They thought they would come back when things calmed down again, but they never left,” says Aruna Madnani, founder of the Sindhi Culture Foundation. “And when they left, they also left their culture behind.”

Doorway to Sindh, a new festival scheduled for September 4 and organized by the Sindhi Culture Foundation, is now bringing Sindhis back to their homeland through a series of lectures led by scholars, historians, archaeologists and anthropologists. The event hosted by Madnani, who had the opportunity to visit Sindh in 2018, will feature oral history, art, crafts, language and more on a series of six semesters.

The first session, entitled ‘Sindh – real and imagined’ delves into the dissipation of the language and occupations of the Sindhi diaspora. The conference will be moderated by Sarah Ansari, a history professor specializing in the partition of India, and Rita Kothari, a multilingual scholar with a doctorate in literary studies.

Another session will explore Marui, a folk tale based on a girl born into a nomadic community in the Thar Desert of Sindh and whose legend is immortalized in the works of poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. This will be followed by a screening of a documentary on Marui directed by Shabnam Virmani and featuring Sufi scholar Abdullah Hussain Turk.

One of the lectures will examine the civilizations of the third millennium BC. Mohenjo Daro and Harappa near the Indus River in Sindh (now Pakistan). Dr. Michael Jansen, a German scholar, and Dr. Kaleemullah Lashari, an archaeologist, historian and author, will talk about the architecture, lesser known facts, trade, writing and material remains of Mohenjo-Daro. Archaeologist Vasant Shinde, who has extensive knowledge of the Harappan civilization, will share his knowledge on the latest research on Harappan DNA and craniofacial analysis.

The latest lecture by Dr. Jürgen Schaflechner, a researcher and filmmaker who has documented refugee life in India, will discuss sacred spaces for the Sindhi community, including the Hindu pilgrimage site Hinglajalong trade routes from the coastal regions of Sindh to Maharashtra.

“The struggle for freedom and the celebration of independence has been an exile for Sindhis to culturally and linguistically different cities. They lived homeless and penniless in the misery of the refugee camps. The festival aims to connect future generations to our lost homeland,” says Madnani.

Doorway to Sindh will air on Facebook and Youtube September 4.


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