Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan on 2.09.2000 by the Syndicate. The Center has undertaken four major projects at present. The Center hopes to serve the community, for whose benefit the university is committed and the region within which it is located, and provide a deeper understanding of its traditions, arts and crafts through the Saraiki Research Center. The Saraiki Research Center came into being after the university had considered different programs for the study of Pakistan, South Punjab and Multan [erstwhile division to Multan]. The name was chosen to give a wide range to the research activities of study within the Saraiki Research Center without extending its scope beyond the potential of the University. At present there are about 50% or more students and teachers within the University who can contribute to this ambitious project. The majority of teachers and students of the university are domiciled in the region (it is expected that this will always be trace for the B.Z.U) and, by involving them in questions and issues related to their environment and communities, it is hoped that the Center will facilitate and promote a sense of the relevance of the education the students are receiving. It should also serve to develop an atmosphere of research in various fields of study within the University.
Saraiki language and culture bears the following main features, which existed side-by-side and interacted with each other in course of time.
Nomadic Culture: – As most part of the land is desert or semi-desert, people used to live a nomadic life. The remains of this culture can be witnessed in the Cholistan and Thal. Their language is more clean rich and prosaic. Most of the folklore has its root in these areas. Khawaja Ghulam Farid, a Sufi poet, depicts this culture in his beautiful poetry.
Riverine Culture: – From the early days of Indus valley civilization, Saraiki’s are intelligent farmers. They grow wheat, cotton, sugarcane, sesame, indigo and several other cash crops on well watered lands of Indus and its tributaries. They laboriously cut canals from the rivers to irrigate their lands. Saraiki language in this way is abound with its vocabulary about crops, seasons and farming tools, weight and measures.
Market Culture: – This land was not only self sufficient in farm produce but also exported its surplus to other countries. Market places developed in to towns and cities, where soldiers, business man, citizens and other classes began to live in more sophisticated manners. Trade and commerce progressed and the language developed its vocabulary about new occupations. Saraiki became a language of trade not only in this area but market towns and bazaars of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Baluchistan and Sindh.
Transporters: – As most of the market towns and cities of were on high banks of navigable rives, the trade goods were transported by means of large boats. This mode of transportation was in vogue till the British period from Kala Bagh in Mianwali District to the seaports of Thatta. The Indus and its tributaries served as highways and transport class called ‘Mohannas’ with their large fleets of boats transported goods and passengers between the towns and cities and to and from the ports of Arabian sea. Boat Construction industry also developed at Makhad, Kala Bagh and Sukkur. With the construction of railway and roads this mode of transport died out but the remains of these people are still existent.
Religion: – Three main regions Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam flourished and spread in the Saraiki speaking area. Hundreds of Aryans descended upon this area about 1700 BC and onwards. They were the worshippers of ‘Surya’ the Sun God. They settled here before their further migration to the Northern India. The first written religious text ‘Rig Veda’ was compiled here. Its verses are all about the people, land and rivers of the Saraiki area. When Alexander the great visited "Multan” he found a grand temple for the religion "Zoroastrainism” . The famous Sun temple of Multan with a statue of the sun god cast in pure gold remained a center of pilgrimage up to the time Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Buddhism flourished in this area about the end of fourth century B.C. and remained major religion of Saraiki area up to the beginning of 8th century A.D
Seraiki literature is the literature if the Seraiki language (sometimes written as Siraiki) which is mostly spoken in central Pakistan. There are some 40 million people for whom it is their first language. Seraiki has a very rich tradition of oral literature but rather less of it was historically committed to writing.
Historically, the most celebrated poet in the Seraiki language is Khawaja Farid (1845 – 1901). His poems were written in a form of verse known as Kafi, a form rooted in a tradition of singing of poetry. Kafi should unite sound, imagery, feeling and subject matter. The following is an English translation of a few lines of one of Farid’s poems:
The beloved’s intense glances call for blood
The dark hair wildly flows The Kohl of the eyes is fiercely black
And slays the lovers with no excuse
My appearance in ruins, I sit and wait
While the beloved has settled in Malheer I feel the sting of the cruel dart
My heart the, abode of pain and grief A life of tears, I have led Farid
Of the contemporary poets, most notables are ‘Ashu Lal Faqir’, ‘ Rifat Abbas’ and ‘Shakir Shujabadi’. Their poetry is immensely popular in the Saraiki region of Pakistani Punjab including Multan, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan and Rahim Yar Khan Regions.
The Seraiki people (also Saraiki people) are an ethnic group from the south-western areas of Pakistani Punjab. There is less dispute over whether the Seraiki language is a separate language or a Punjabi dialect.
A Seraiki campaign grew in the 1960’s with the aims of establishing language rights and stopping what was seen as exploitation and repression by the traditionally Punjabi dominated government. Seraiki land has always been very fertile, producing much of Pakistan’s wheat and cotton. However little money has been invested back, thus leading to impoverishment and underdevelopment.
The campaign continued on into the 1970’s, by which time political activists had drawn up a map of a proposed Seraikistan region, including most of southern Punjab and Dera Ismail Khan in the North West Frontier Province (note that this excluded Sindhi and Baloch areas, possibly because of strong nationalist movements in those regions).
In 1977 General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq took power in a coup of Pakistan. Under his strongly centralist rule the Seraiki movement went underground.
General Zia died in a plane crash in 1988 and the Seraiki movement re-emerged. By now the aims were to have a Seraiki nationality recognised, to have official documents printed in Seraiki, a Seraiki regiment in the army, employment quotas and more Seraiki language radio and television.The Seraiki movement has suffered from being Punjab-based in a country in which Punjabis dominate the army and government (REFERENCES????).
In 1993 moves were made to settle Biharis (Indian Muslims who had moved to East Pakistan (Bangladesh) in Seraiki areas. This was resisted by the Seraikis and the plan was eventually shelved. Seraikies claim that they are not merely an ethnic group but a nation.
Siraiki is widely spoken and understood as a second language in northern and western Sindh down to the suburbs of Karachi and in the Kachhi plain of Balochistan. It is also known as Derawali in Derajat area.