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.
(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.
Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – see music breaking religious barriers – See the Sikhs getting intoxicated with this music
Madam Noor Jehan – See the class
Reshma – See the simplicity
Abida Parveen - See the divinity
Abida Parveen – In her younger days - truly majestic
Band Junoon – See the contemporary
College of Wooster students – popular amongst students – hear the band wow
Shrine of Saint himself - Lal Shahbaz Qalandar
Sabri Brothers - favorite of qawwals
See this – awesome – Janice Miller an American singing for Jagjit singh – see even Jagjit singh dancing - what a video
Lord belongs to everyone - Sindhi dhamal gathering - lighter note
Qalandari Dhamal – Gulbahar Bano, Saraiki