Duma Dum Mast Kalandar

More than relying on codified history, India has had a long tradition of passing down stories and cultural ruminations through songs and poems. Each such work of art is a gem in its own itself and has a thousand different histories related to it. The story behind Duma Dum Mast Kalandar is one of fascination.
The shrine of Lal Shabaz Qalander; Image Source- Behance

The shrine of Lal Shabaz Qalander; Image Source- Behance

This song comes from the incredible land of Sind, the heartland of this country. It has survived for more than 750 years in different forms, in different verses and in different ways. The popular song "Duma Dum Mast Qalandar" has an interesting history behind it. This song is dedicated to "Lal Shahbaz Qalander" a wandering Sufi poet contemporary to Rumi's time. He wandered around the Muslim world and finally settled in Sehwan in Pakistan where his Dargah is

situated. William Dalrymple in his work “Nine Lives” wonderfully elucidates this fascinating story.

"'Lal" signified a Ruby halo that apparently imitated from him, "Shahbaz" was supposed to

signify his noble spirit and "Qalandar" means a religious nomad, a boundless hippy. He is also known as "Jhulelal" a word I'm sure you must have heard in the song Duma Dum Mast Qalander.

This song is the by-product of Sufi culture. The Sufi culture is very different from Islam, they are almost seen as outcasts by the Muslims. In Sufi culture, the death of a Sufi saint is celebrated via "Urs" where people dance and smoke hashish & things that Muslims hold contemptible. It is very different from the regressive nature of monotheistic religions such as Islam. The Sufis are free-spirited beings who believe in establishing a personal relationship with God through truth, divine love and knowledge.

They believe in the concept of Fana which means a sort of fusion - a temporary ecstatic intoxication of divine love and Baqa - a condition in which they believe that God dwells within humans and not in mosques or other places of worship.

Thus, the next time you are listening to this beautiful song, do remember what it signifies as well.


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