Why Sindhi Culture Is Universal, Ft. The Sketches

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Ushah Kazi

Married to books, in a relationship with food, playing dress up since 1993. An unabashed pop-culture junkie. Come talk movies and lifestyle with me!

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So, we’re nearing the end of 2019. And yet, we insist on holding on to some age-old biases. I don’t want to get into which political regime exacerbated the bigotry against Sindhi culture. What I will say, is that the insistence on demeaning stereotypes is getting a little old. Particularly when, the heritage in question has so much to offer, everyone.

 

My (Never-Ending) Feudal Lord

I get sudden bouts of rage, almost periodically. Every time the trailer for an upcoming Pakistani movie is released; xenophobic stereotypes in tow. In large part because the crude narratives are almost always the same. The bumbling feudal, the vicious criminal elements, and whatever the hell this is…

And just like that, the complexity of a culture is relegated to bigots.

The most unfortunate chapter in this story, is that so many people believe that Sindhi culture and traditions are polarising. That, at its heart, the heritage is exclusive, and cannot inspire anyone who doesn’t belong to it. This view, could not be further from the truth.

 

Hear The People Sing

So, what brought on this particular dirge? Generally, as I mentioned, I tend to periodically have bouts of rage about the situation. But more specifically, Saif Samejo of The Sketches was kind enough to share his new song with me.

The track, and the music video in particular, clearly showcase their genre of contemporary Sufi music. Fusing the immortal words of seminal poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai with modern poetry, it is a timeless tale. One of longing, strife, and coming to terms with one’s place in the cosmos.

This song, like so much of Sindhi culture, seeks to examine the human dilemma. About being lost, and finding ourselves, and ultimately wanting to do and be more.

I don’t want to do what I’m accusing others of doing, and relegate an entire culture to one thing. But, the journey of self-discovery is undoubtedly an important aspect of Sindhi culture. Both classic, and contemporary.

 

All In This Together

This is why I insist that Sindhi culture is essentially universal. True, not everyone speaks or understands the language. Yes, not everyone grew up with these folk stories. But, everyone knows what it is to be lost, and why introspection is so important. 

There is a serious potential, given this aspect of Sindhi culture, for it to offer us a ton of insight. Particularly when social movements today are asking those same questions.

I understand that in a bid to capitalise, we have to seize and put a price on whatever the kids are doing. But, regardless of how they’re coopted to sell you the newest Barbie, most social movements should at least be considered.

Hence, regardless of how many sickeningly sterilised Disney movies are shoved down my throat, I can appreciate the ethos behind ‘woke-ness’. Particularly, when the image of an internal awakening is so engrained in my cultural identity.

The idea of seeing more clearly, becoming cognisant of how we were wrong, and doing better, is ingrained in the lineage. And has also been the rallying cry of anyone who wanted to see the world improve.

To echo the sentiments of Maya Angelou, it is about knowing better and then doing better.

 

 Can We Talk To Each Other?

With that, let’s end today’s dirge. And to end on a high, I’m inviting you open your eyes to all that Sindhi culture has to offer.

I get it; the stereotypes are funny. Often, they are objectively funny. But, they are also incomplete, and often, completely inaccurate. Instead, why not look for something a bit more complex, more melodious and a bit less childish?

You could watch the movie Cake. Which represents a contemporary Sindhi family with much more sensitivity.

You could listen to some of Lahooti’s most popular songs. Which showcase the myriad of musical veins that run through Sindh.

Or, if you’re in Pakistan, and in the mood for something more festive, you could attend the Lahooti Melo.

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Ecosystem not Ego-system — There's a lot of power in eating for the planet. By choosing to eat plant-based foods, you can drastically cut your carbon footprint, save precious water supplies, and help ensure vital crop resources are fed to people, rather than livestock. You obviously help save animals too. Animals are sentient beings, experiencing the ups and downs of daily life, and we must respect this when we interact with them. While we obviously have much more to learn, what we already know should be enough to inspire changes in the way we treat other animals. It's a no-brainer that when you eat plants, you also feel better. Nestlé, the largest food company in the world predicts that vegan food "trend" is here to stay.

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It is a festival that celebrates the heritage, while also tackling some pertinent global concerns. For 2020, their theme is, understandably, climate change. It will take place in January, follow their profile to stay up to date.

Regardless of how you choose to, I do hope I’ve inspired you to take another chance on the heritage. I hope you’re willing to open your eyes to all that it can offer you. Because trust me, when you really look, you might find something priceless here.

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