The Colours of Basant in the City of Lahore Qalandars

By Madiha Hamid

The start of February brought us the Pakistan Super League. A long awaited change in the Pakistani Cricket scenario. The city of the Sikandars, welcomed the festivity of PSL with a jubilant spirit.  Festivity runs in the blood of the  Zinda Dilan-e- Lahore.

While February may have brought Pakistan some seriously good cricket, we cannot forget that with the arrival of February comes the arrival of  Basant or as the Lahoris like to call it: Jashan-e-Baharaan. There is a reason why every Pakistani has at least once used the phrase: “Chalo yaar basant manane Lahore chalte hain” (Lets go to Lahore for celebrating Basant.”Its because no other city in the country could do justice to the festivities of Basant like Lahore! Sighs!  Long gone are those days.

Lets take you back a few years  and tell you how a true Basant was celebrated in the streets of the Walled city of Lahore.

Locally Lahore Courtesy: Locally Lahore

Lahore welcomed the Jashan-e-baharan with open arms and smiles; where the canal was decorated and lit up with boats and lights, a horse and cattle show in fortress stadium, the plays in Al-Hamra, the puppet shows in Gaddafi stadium. Lahore was alive in its own beautiful ways. The Basant festival was welcomed and celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm, love and joy.

Pakistan tourist guideThe canal during Basant- Courtesy: Pakistan Tour Guide

I fondly remember my late dada abu (grandfather) distributing 100 rupees, to the guys in every family for buying the dor (thread), and the kites two weeks prior to the festivities. Following that the elders of every family i.e. taya, phoppa, chucha (uncles) would take care of the arrangements on the roof and for the guests(mostly guys) who would come in for the Basant weekend from the other parts of Punjab. The ladies of the house, were expected to make naashta (breakfast) of Hulwa Poori, followed by a grand feast of nothing else but Nihari and Paaye.

KfoodsPaaye- Courtesy: Kfoods

The young blood of course would be arranging for the loud speakers, music and getting friends together by extending further invitations. Us, the girls of every age group would dig up the wardrobe and were all set to wear anything in bright yellow colour. Our dada’s (Grandfather) roof top was joined in with the neighbour’s roofs, thus climbing and jumping from one roof to another  was the part of the fun. You would hear the guys screaming ‘BO Kaata’ everywhere around. And of course the competition sometimes was declared and at times was understood on its own, with the neighbouring kites. Food was and remains the main focus of Lahoris till date. Drinks such as Chai, Lassi, along with fruits and dry fruits was distributed all day long.

Fraz IsmatCourtesy: Fraz Ismat

I fondly remember climbing those 100 stairs hundred times a day , up and down to bring this and that for the boys up on the roof. Our brothers were in a serious competition and as sisters it had become our responsibility to provide comfort to them. The skies were lit up with numerous colours. The scene remained same till late evening.

PinterestCourtesy: Pinterest

For the Lahoris that were lucky enough to witness Basant in its true spirit, those are days gone by. Kite flying has been banned in populated areas due to a number of fatal accidents. The ways of Basant have changed in the city of Lahore Qalandars . With time, Basant chaned into a corporate and branded event with the introduction to Basant festivals by different multinationals. I had a chance to attend a few of those too, where of course the focus was on particular branding, from Basant nights at Lahore fort to booking rooftops of commercial plazas: the race was on. The elders are long gone, girls became mothers, boys got strangled in the race to meet the needs , many left the country yet culture, food and happiness remains the prime focus of every Lahori no matter where he or she lives. Lahore still tries to hold on to those old ways in one way or another and the streets of Lahore are still nostalgic to hear someone shout ‘Bo Kaata’.

Basant- the newsCourtesy: The News

Madiha Hamid

Chefling-in-Chief Founder Chefling Tales. A foodie that loves to travel and explore different flavors of Pakistan and the world. She loves to cook recipes that are different , yet simple. She wants people to know and understand the beauty of Pakistani Regional Cuisines @madihamid