This has been one of my favorite nos. I have been humming this for years now. It has been a hot favorite with all singers, notably qawwals and these days the reality show contestants. Some of the known names who have lent their voice to this – Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, Madam Noor Jehan, Wadali Brothers, Reshma, Sabri Brothers, Jagjit Singh, Runa Laila, Lata Mangeshkar, bands like Junoon and this list endlessly goes on. Many college bands have attempted this giving a rock flavour. That, one song could be so popular amongst so many, I wondered, what this song is all about, what’s its true meaning. This and last week I spent looking for all the versions and answers to my questions. What a fascinating and satisfying journey it has been.
This song is in the honor of Sufi mystic ‘Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’. Every word of his name has a meaning – he was known as Hazrat ( prophet of GOD ), Lal ( he wore red robes or mothers fondly call their kids as Lal ), Shahbaz ( Shah – King and Baz – Falcon, king of falcons and an Iranian GOD who led them to victory, a divine spirit ), and finally Qalandar ( a qalandari – a sufi saint, poet, mystic, noble man ). He settled in Serwan ( Sindh, now in Pak ) and tried bringing peace between Hindus and Muslims. Hindus regard him as GOD and reincarnate as well. You can hear many Punjabi singers, singing in his praise. He is also fondly called as Jhulelal.
So the song goes like this :
O laal meri pat rakhio bala jhoole laalan, Sindri da Sehvan da, sakhi Shabaaz kalandar, Dama dam mast kalandar, Ali dam dam de andar
(O the red robed, May I always have your benign protection, Jhulelal (as he was affectionately called ). O, the lord,the friend and the Sire of Sindh and Sehwan ( or Serwan ),The red robed God-intoxicated Qalandar, The lord in every breath of mine, glory unto to you)
Chaar charaag tere baran hamesha, Panjwa mein baaran aayi bala jhoole laalan
O panjwa mein baaran, O panjwa mein baaran aayi bala jhoole laalan, Sindri da Sehvan da, sakhi Shabaaz Qalandar, Dama dam mast Qalandar, Ali dam dam de andar
(Your shrine is always lighted with four lamps, And here I come to light a fifth lamp in your honor )
Hind Sind ( some also sing Ghanan ghanan ) peera teri naubat vaaje, Naal vaje ghadiyaal bala jhoole laalan, O naal vaje, O naal vaje ghadiyaal bala jhoole laalan
Sindri da Sehvan da sakhi Shabaaz Qalandar, Dama dam mast kalandar, ali dam dam de andar, Dama dam mast Qalandar.
“Dama Dam Mast Qalandar” (Punjabi: دَما دَم مَست قَلَندَر) is a spiritual Sufi song. The original poem was initially written by Amir Khusrow, then further modified by Bulleh Shah. The song is in honour of the most revered Sufi saint of Sindh, Shahbaz Qalandar of Sehwan Sharif. The modern melody was composed by Master Ashiq Hussain of Pakistan, and was widely popularised by many Pakistani singers like Noor Jehan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, the Sabri Brothers, Reshma, Komal Rizvi, and Junoon. The song has also been performed by Indian artists like the Wadali brothers and Mika Singh, and Runa Laila of Bangladesh. More recently, Sami Yusuf performed a rendition of the song.
It is said that this qawwali was adapted from the original prayer by Amir Khusrow, and was then modified completely by Bulleh Shah. Bulleh Shah gave an entirely different colour to the qawwali, adding verses in praises of Shahbaz Qalandar and giving it a large tint of Sindhi culture.
Syed Muhammad Usman Marwandi
Other names Lal Shahbaz Qalandar
Died 19 February 1275 (aged 98–99)
Sehwan, Sindh (modern-day Pakistan)
Based in Sehwan
Period in office 12th/13th century
Predecessor Baha-ud-din Zakariya
Successor Syed Muhammad Raza Shah Subzwari
Syed Muhammad Usman Marwandi (1177–19 February 1275), popularly known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (Sindhi: لعل شھباز قلندر), was a Sufi philosopher-poet of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Called Lal (Ruby-colored) after his usual red attire, Shahbaz to denote a noble and divine spirit.
Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, son of Pir Syed Hasan Kabeeruddin, was born in Marwand. His ancestors had migrated from Baghdad and settled in Mashhad, before moving again to Marwand.
He lived when the Ghaznavid and Ghurids ruled in the Indus region. A contemporary of Rumi, he travelled around the Muslim world and settled in Sehwan where he was eventually buried. There is evidence of his presence in Sindh in 1196 when he met Pir Haji Ismail Panhwar of Paat and he is believed to have arrived in Sehwan around 1251. There he established a meeting house (khanqah), taught in the Fuqhai Islam Madarrsah and wrote his treatises Mizan-us-Surf, Kism-e-Doyum, Aqd and Zubdah. Lal Shahbaz lived a celibate life and died in the year 1300 at the age of 151.
In Multan he met[according to whom?] Baha-ud-din Zakariya of the Suhrwardiyya, Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar of the Chishtiyya and Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari. The friendship of these four became legendary, they were known as the Chahar Yar (In Persian “the four friends”). According to some historians[according to whom?] the four visited various parts[where?] of Sindh, Punjab (in present-day Pakistan) and southern part of India..
Shahbaz became a profound scholar of religions, fluent in many languages including Pashto, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Sindhi and Sanskrit.
Following his death, Hindus within Sindh began to identify Lal Shahbaz Qalandar as an incarnation of their patron deity, [[[Jhulelal (Hinduism)|Jhulelal]]. This connection was emphasized by the popular spiritual song Dama Dam Mast Qalandar which referred to him by the name Jhulelal. Over time, the Jhulelal has become a nickname for him, among both Hindu and Muslim Sindhis.
Main article: Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar
The shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was built in 1356 and decorated with Sindhi ‘kashi-tiles’, mirror-work and a gold-plated door donated by the Shah of Iran, Reza Shah Pahlavi and installed by the late Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The inner sanctum is about 100 square yards with a silver-canopied grave in the middle, according to Nadeem Wagan, Cutharo silver donated by Sardar Mahboob Ali Khan Wagan (Chief Sardar of Wagan Tribe) on one side of the marble floor is a row of about 12-inch-high (300 mm) folding wooden stands, on which there is a set copies of Quran for devotees to read. On the other side, beside a bundle of incense, are rows of oil-lamps lighted by devotees. Thousands of devotees visit the tomb particularly every Thursday.
On 16 February 2017, the Islamic State’s Khorasan faction claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on the shrine which resulted in the deaths of 88 people. The following morning, the shrine’s caretaker continued the daily tradition of ringing the shrine’s bell at 3:30 A.M. and defiantly vowed that he would not be intimidated by terrorists. The shrine’s dhamaal, or meditative dancing ceremony, was resumed the very next evening following the attack.
Lal Shahbaz’s annual Urs (death anniversary celebration), held on the 18 Sha’aban – the eighth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, brings more than half a million pilgrims from all over Pakistan. On each morning of the three-day feast the narrow lanes of Sehwan are packed with pilgrims, fakirs and devotees making their way to the shrine to commune with the saint, offer tributes and ask for their wishes. (Sao Sumar) singing from 6am till 8am the next day. They invite bands of folk-singers (mandali) from different regions each year.
(Let your heroic name ring out in Hind & Sindh ( or lets the gongs bell loud ), Let the gong ring loud for your glory day and night by the people ( ghariyal – watchman, symbolism of night )
Har dam peera teri khair hove, Naam-e-ali beda paar laga jhoole laalan, O naam-e-ali, O naam-e-ali beda paar laga jhoole laalan, Sindri da sehvan da sakhi Shabaaz Qalandar, Dama dam mast Qalandar, Ali dam dam de andar
( O Lord, may you prevail everytime, everywhere, I pray of oyur well being, In the name of Ali, I pray to you to help my boat cross (the river of life) in safety)
After learning the meaning, the fondness for this song has grown multifold. I have attached clippings of various singers. You will thouroughly enjoy all the renderings. I have a special mention for the one from Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan from his young days and the young Abida Parveen.