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All Around This World South and Central Asia (Pakistan)
Pakistan was born as an independent nation in 1947 as part of British decolonization when "British India" split in two. Pakistan actually began as a nation in two parts itself, consisting of the current land of Pakistan, which is west of India, and a nation east of India that's now Bangladesh (which became independent in 1971). Pakistan was always meant to be a Muslim-majority nation (95% are Muslim), a foil to the primarily Hindu India. When Pakistan and India separated millions of Muslims moved to Pakistan and millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India. A difficult time.

Pakistan has continued to be a tricky place, politically speaking; since independence it has alternated between periods of military domination and relatively unstable civilian rule. Today the country still faces challenges like ongoing conflicts with Taliban insurgents and the occasional cricket scandal.  

This week in class we sing:

We sing "We Are Happy," a hello song from Uganda, to open ever All Around This World class. This week we greet each other in Urdu: Salaam Aleekum! 

"Taralilalalai" is a "sozanda," part of a ancient repertoire performed mainly by Jewish female performers in the city of Bukhara.  “Taralilalalai” translates roughly as “la la la” and “yar eh” means “my dear.” (more

"Dhe Dhe" is Southern Indian song I first heard on the Smithsonian Folkways Folk Music of India (and known there as "Tamil Folk Song.") In class we use this to sing about our kids' clothes, especially if they come adorned with spaceships, unicorns and bunnies.  (More.

"Khaunla Pataima" is a contemporary Nepali song about desperately wanting to be with someone you love.  (More.)  

"Basant" is Nepali wedding song that celebrates springtime, hope and love. Basant itself is a Hindu holiday of knowledge, art and renewal. We really like all three. (More.)


The music of Pakistan tells the tale of the country's geographic location at a crossroads between South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East, drawing on Pashto, Farsi, Punjabi and many other folk styles.  The most widely known Pakistani musical style is Qawwali, pulsating Sufi devotional music performed by a "humnawa," a group of eight or nine men (and they're always men), in a religious assembly session known as a "mehfil-e-sama," that is supposed to create a link to the divine for both the performer and listener.    

The undisputed master of Qawwali is Pakistan's Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. calls Khan "the Bob Marley of Pakistan" and "the Elvis of the East." He became internationally known in the '80s and '90s through his compilations with Peter Gabriel and his contributions to the film soundtracks of "Last Temptation of Christ," "Dead Man Walking," "Natural Born Killers" and "Jackass: The Movie."  (Kidding about that last one.  Just want to see if you're  paying attention.)  See a rocking YouTube video of Khan performing "Mustt Mustt."