Paharis and Eid Milad an-Nabi

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal. We used to make models of cities from mud and dirt on a slanted wooden board held up on one end by bricks. Some used just a big enough mound of mud. Making a pahari [city on a hill?] it was called. (Is it because we Plains kids loved the hills since there were none around?) It used to take up the whole day to make the damn pahari, and it was a collective effort of 2 or more kids. The thin strings that cordoned off the area around the model were adorned with little jhandi flags. By evening, people, mostly kids, went around appraising and appreciating the neighborhood’s paharis; and of course ranking them. The pahari with the most visitors/spectators was the undeclared winner. The number of visitors, the time they spent at a pahari, and whether or not there was a crowd around the pahari was what told the pahari-makers how well they have done and the basis on which the fierce competition among neighborhood kids was run. Bollywood music blared to keep the spectators interested in the whole production. The idea was to not only attract more spectators but to also keep them there. I don’t know if this tradition of making model cities on the Prophet’s birthday exists outside central Punjab; do you?

Anyway, check out this youtube video of paharis (the first two paharis are close to the scale of paharis I remember from my childhood, though still built much lavishly than we ever did): 

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4 Responses to Paharis and Eid Milad an-Nabi

  1. Rabayl says:

    Fascinating, I’ve never heard of this! In Karachi, celebrations are limited to ladies’ milaads organized at home and some houses done up in green fairy-lights and tube-lights!

    • Greased Cartridge says:

      My bro told me that there aren’t any pahari-making in our town anymore. I don’t know if that’s true. I found some youtube videos of Lahori paharis, though I don’t recall there being much fanfare around the idea in Lahore. May be it is a small-town Punjab tradition that is marginally there in Lahore and other bigger cities.

  2. historianess says:

    CIty on a Hill!!! Maybe I get you to read Winthrop next. He’s worse than Bradford, if you can imagine that.

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