Use of Mehandi (Henna) in Pakistan

Posted on 17. Oct, 2015 by in Uncategorized

A typical Pakistani Bride with Mehandi (Henna) on her hands. Pic from by Nabeel Zeeshan.

A typical Pakistani bride with Mehandi (Henna) on her hands. Pic from by Nabeel Zeeshan.

Mehndi also called henna, is a powder of the leaves of a tree by the same name. The paste of mehndi has been used for decorating the hands, feet, and body parts of women in many Asian countries since time immemorial. The name henna has been derived from Arabic. In Asian countries, there is a tradition of making intricate floral and other kinds of designs and patterns on the hands and feet of women on special occasions and festivals using the paste of mehndi with the help of a cone made of paper. It is said that deeper or darker the color that appears on the hands of the woman applying mehndi, the more she is loved by her husband. Whether this is just a saying or there s any truth behind is not clear but what is clear is the fact that mehndi does make a woman more beautiful and feminine.

The use of mehndi has become so commonplace that beauty parlors and salons have special arrangements for their customers to have mehndi applied on their hands and feet before important festivals. During the marriage season, the demand for mehndi specialists who can make beautiful designs on the hands and feet of women goes up. No Pakistani wedding or Eid ul Fitr (end of Ramadan) celebration is complete without women getting henna applied on their hands. There is even a special ceremony by the name of mehndi before the wedding day where all female friends and relatives of the bride gather together at the house of the bride and celebrate by singing and dancing.

What many people are unaware of is the fact that the name of the groom is written on the hands of the bride when mehndi is being applied on the hands and feet of the bride. This is done in an artistic manner by the mehndi artist and it is hard to read the name of the groom inside the beautiful pattern that is made on the hands. A mehndi artist is specially arranged at the premises of the bride during the mehndi ceremony who applies mehndi patterns on the hands of all female friends and relatives. Mehndi is considered to be the color of love and also very auspicious. This is the reason why it is given a place of pride in all auspicious occasions and used to decorate the bodies of women. Mehndi is 100% natural and hence it has no side effects. This is why it causes no allergies and is used by people without any hesitation.

Basics of Urdu Language

Posted on 30. Sep, 2015 by in Uncategorized



What is significant about the Urdu alphabet?

The Urdu alphabet has 39 basic letters and 13 extra characters, 52 all together. It is written from right to left and is closely related to the Arabic and Persian alphabets, but also contains some sounds from Sanskrit.


Certain sounds in Urdu have no equivalent in English or in other languages written in the Roman alphabet. For this reason it is often difficult to express the true pronunciation of Urdu words using Roman letters.

Examples of letters that are not found in the English alphabet are:
ق – a sharp sound at the back of the throat, similar to ‘k’
خ – the pronunciation of ‘ch’ in Scottish ‘loch’.
ژ – much like the sound made by ‘s’ in ‘pleasure’


Urdu has three short vowel sounds and seven long vowel sounds.

In writing, short vowels are represented by special symbols above or below the word. These symbols are known as ‘diacritics’. However, these diacritics are often left off written Urdu, so you can’t always tell how a word should be pronounced, unless it’s in context. There are similarities in English, with a word like ‘wind’ – ‘The wind blows’ and ‘Wind up the clock’.

The short vowels sound like:
The ‘a’ in the English word ‘about’
The ‘i’ in ‘bin’
The ‘u’ in ‘put’

Long vowels are written using the letters ا [alif], و [wao], ی[choti ye], ے [bari ye] combined with diacritics. Once again, the diacritics are often left out so you have to work out the pronunciation of the word based on its context.

The seven long vowels in Urdu sound similar to these English sounds:

The ‘a’ in ‘father’
The ‘ee’ in ‘seed’
The ‘oo’ in ‘boot’
The ‘o’ in ‘order’
The ‘au’ in ‘Australia’
The ‘e’ in ‘help’
The ‘a’ in ‘apple’

Getting used to reading words without diacritics can be a bit tricky at first, so most books for people learning Urdu or for children tend to include them. But most other forms of written Urdu, such as street signs and general publications don’t bother with diacritics.

The other thing to bear in mind is that two of the letters which represent vowels can also represent consonants.
و [wao] can also represent a ‘v’ sound or a ‘w’ sound
ی [choti ye] can also represent a ‘y’ sound

 A single dot makes a big difference

Dots play an important part in the Urdu alphabet. The placement of a dot can change one letter into a different letter. For example:

حـ [hey], becomes
خـ [khey], with a dot above it, and
جـ [jeem], with a dot below it.

The letter ب [bay], has its basic shape in common with three other letters, with only some dots to differentiate them:

ت [tey]
ث [say]
پ [pay]

One of the challenges for learners is to memorise the differences between these very similar-looking letters.

Email and website conventions

When saying web or email addresses, the words hyphen, slash,dot and at are all pronounced as in English.

Reference: BBC.UK

A Poem by Iqbal

Posted on 29. Sep, 2015 by in Uncategorized

A sketch of Allama Iqbal on

A sketch of Allama Iqbal on

Muhammad Iqbal, also known as Allama Iqbal, was a philosopher, poet and politician in British India who is widely regarded to have inspired the Pakistan Movement. He is considered one of the most important figures in Urdu literature, with literary work in both the Urdu and Persian languages. Iqbal is admired as a prominent classical poet by Pakistani, Indian and other international scholars of literature. Although most well known as a poet, he has also been acclaimed as a modern Muslim philosopher. Iqbal is known as Shair-e-Mushriq meaning Poet of the East. He is also called Muffakir-e-Pakistan “The Inceptor of Pakistan”, and Hakeem-ul-Ummat “The Sage of the Ummah”. Pakistan has officially recognized him as its “national poet”. In Iran and Afghanistan he is famous as Iqbal-e Lahori (Iqbal of Lahore), and he is most appreciated for his Persian work. His birthday is celebrated on November 9 and is a national holiday in Pakistan. Here is a famous poem called “I desire” by Iqbal and its English translation.

tere ishq kii intahaa chaahataa huun
I want to have the extremes of your Love

merii saadagii dekh kyaa chaahataa huun
See, how silly am I, wishing for unachievable

sitam ho ki ho vaadaa-e-behijaabii
I don’t care if you maltreat me or promise to unveil your beauty

ko_ii baat sabr-aazamaa chaahataa huun
I just want something unbearable to test my fortitude

ye jannat mubaarak rahe zaahidon ko
Let the God fearing people be dwelling in the paradise

ki main aap kaa saamanaa chaahataa huun
For, instead I want to be face to face with you

koi dam kaa mehamaan huun ai ahal-e-mahafil
O fellows, I am here for a few moments, as a gust

chiraag-e-sahar huun, bujhaa chaahataa huun
Like morning star I will fade and vanish in a few moments

bharii bazm main raaz kii baat kah dii
I disclosed the secret in public

badaa be-adab huun, sazaa chaahataa huun
I need to be punished for being so rude