The Lohar experience

Published: July 2, 2010
Alam Lohar is an icon of folk music across the globe. PHOTO: FLICKR

Alam Lohar is an icon of folk music across the globe. PHOTO: FLICKR

Alam Lohar is an icon of folk music across the globe. PHOTO: FLICKR Arif Lohar is building on his father’s legacy. PHOTO: KOHI MARRI/RIZWANUL HAQ

The word ‘jugni’ has become a part of music vocabulary, a testament to the legacy of Alam Lohar.

Lohar, whose 31st death anniversary is being commemorated this week, is considered to be one of the leading icons of folk music in Pakistan, and has sung Waris Shah’s folk tale Heer in 36 different ways. Alam died in an accident on July 3, 1979 and was laid to rest in Lala Musa. Alam Lohar’s childhood was spent singing Sufi poetry at local gatherings in his village. Gradually he emerged as a great singer who managed to hold his audience captive.

Alam Lohar’s legacy continues through his son Arif Lohar, who has kept both the chimta and jugni alive.

Remembering his father, Arif told Express News, “‘Jugni’ is my father’s discovery. Except for the first ten days of Muharram, he dedicated all his time to music which is a world record in itself.”

Arif, whose rendition of “Jugni” is also extremely popular says, “I wish some organisation or hall would be named after him.”

The younger Lohar spoke at length about his father’s trademark instrument, the chimta. Introduced as a unique musical instrument, the chimta soon became the identity of both father and son.

Alam Lohar was gifted with a melodic voice and hit high notes with a varying pitch, but his memorable performances with a chimta became his trademark. Alam did not solely rely on the works of Sufi poets and composed the lyrics for many of his own songs.

However, Arif Lohar is often forced to do impromptu performances at airports with the chimta.

“The chimta is not a weapon,” he says. “But since 9/11, I face difficulties in getting it cleared by airport security and sometimes have to convince the foreign staff that it is an instrument by doing a live performance at the airport.”

Many music enthusiasts have been curious about the meaning of ‘jugni’.  Arif explained what the word means to him, “Jugni is the conscience of one’s soul. Jugni is a message of peace across the globe.”

Arif, who has worked in a few Lollywood movies, is making a comeback after a decade. “I’m playing the male lead opposite Saima in Syed Noor’s film Jugni Nachdi Ae,” he told Express News.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2010.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • suleman warsi
    Jul 3, 2010 - 8:19AM

    Glad to see a punjabi not ashamed of his/her language or culture.Don’t know about indian punjabis,but we over here are so embarassed to be thought of as punjabis,that a majority of the urban punjabis have stopped speaking their mother tongue at all in lahore.All the other provincial languages are spoken proudly by their ppl( which should be the case) but punjabi is not.Look at the small no. of punjabi channels whereas punjab’s population is higher than the rest.Recommend

  • omar
    Jul 3, 2010 - 11:06AM

    Indian punjabis still talk in their mother tongue with confidence and pride, I myself learned fluent punjabi from Sikhs in London who barely travelled to their Mother land.
    My mother face criticism from Posh Auntieis when I speak Punjabi with an accent in Lahore. Kudos to Arif and recently Meesha Shafi for singing Jugni at Coke studio. Recommend

  • Tasawar Bosal
    Jul 3, 2010 - 1:13PM

    Arif has indeed revitalised his father’s legacy.
    The coke studio touch given to the folk jugni and Meshal Shafi ;s pure punjabi style have added more colors to the masteropiece.Recommend

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