A private garden in Lahore.

The Nostalgic Memories of Lahore in Spring as an Immigrant Longing for Home

The arrival of Spring in Australia was announced with a Google doodle. A happy little hedgehog with flowers on its back, smiling and carefree. Living its best life. Reminding us that something new and beautiful awaits us all. There is something about the changing seasons that brings along an overpowering sense of nostalgia.

Often, our past makes it impossible for us to move forward. The road taking us towards our future is often lined with the remnants of past events. The road becomes a lot bumpier. And the journey is a lot more perilous.

Covid-19 has made it impossible for most of us immigrants to visit our homes for years. That means a higher number of people are now suffering from nostalgia and homesickness. I am one such person. The arrival of spring in Australia has actually transported me back home. In my mind, I am surrounded by memories of my life that was. I feel confused as conflicting emotions wash over me.

A sense of excitement, because a new season is here. New beginnings and new adventures await us! But also a sense of loss because I have missed another spring in Lahore.

Travel Guide: The Magnificent History and Culture of Lahore, Pakistan

Lahore my home

 https://bit.ly/3BKaWYT
A park in Lahore in spring with the Minar-e-Pakistan in the background.

To me and to millions of others, Lahore is home. There’s a famous saying about Lahore that goes, “Jiney Lahore nai takeya, o jammaya nai”. When translated, it means “He who has not yet visited Lahore has not been born.”

Travel Guide: Loitering Through the Old City of Lahore

There is something about that city. It makes you feel alive. As a city that is home to more than 11 million people, there is never a dull moment. The streets are always bustling with energy. The shops are crowded with eager, boisterous shoppers. There is an abundance of all good things in Lahore.

The arrival of spring brings people out from their cozy hideouts. People come out in huge numbers to admire the vibrant colors and festivities that the city has to offer.

Jashn-e-Baharan

https://bit.ly/3jKjt86
A beautiful view of a park in Lahore during spring.

Under the banner of Jashn-e-Baharan, Lahore goes all out to celebrate and welcome the spring season. The roads, sidewalks, and roundabouts are decorated with colorful flower arrangements. Not just that, people cover their private lawns and gardens with colorful carnations to show off their inner Picasso.

Flowers

Some of the most common flowers that are used by people to grow in their lawns are:

  • Petunias: These are some of the most popular flowers because of their beautiful blooms and they are easy to grow. Their maintenance is no hassle.
    https://bit.ly/2YmYT5h
    A colourful bunch of petunias in a hanging basket.

    Petunias add life and color to gardens. Get them on Etsy here:https://etsy.me/2WRafxU

  • Gazania: Another flower that is easy to grow and maintain.
    https://bit.ly/3jL88oe
    Gazania flower has double shaded petals.

    It can add color and beauty to your garden. You can buy them here: https://etsy.me/3kQv7xs.

  • Dahlia: A lively, colorful flower that’s a lot like daisies.
    https://bit.ly/3h8wYws
    Colourful Dahlias look a lot like natures own pom poms.

    It’s a beautiful addition to any garden and its maintenance is not a hassle. Get them here: https://etsy.me/3kXmQrG

  • Pansy: Look closely at a pansy and you will see a colorful stormtrooper helmet in them. But that’s just me. You might find something more interesting in the double shade design of their petals. Get yours here: https://etsy.me/3yQ9v9o
  • Freesia: These are bright and cheerful blooms with a beautiful scent. They come in a variety of beautiful and vibrant colors. You can grow your own quite easily. Get them here. https://etsy.me/38Ofh0x
  • Ranunculus: These flowers are a lot like roses in appearance. They are available in different colors and add color and life to a garden.
  • Hyacinths: These flowers have spiky succulent leaves. It’s one of the expensive flowers and a little harder to grow and maintain. But its colorful presence makes it well worth the trouble.  Preorder here: https://etsy.me/2WXFOWU

Canal Mela

https://bit.ly/2Vkf7uS
The model of a horse drawn carriage floats on the Canal.

Another part of the annual spring celebration is the CANAL MELA.

The Lahore Canal Road is one of the major roads in Lahore. This road is a part of Lahore’s history and cultural heritage. It was constructed during the Mughal era but was later improved and extended during the British Raj in 1861. The  Bambawali Ravi-Bedian Canal along which the Canal road is constructed provides a much-needed respite from the sweltering heat Lahore receives every year. People of all ages come to the canal to take a dip and cool off.

For the spring festival, the canal is filled with life-sized models of famous monuments from all over the country. These floats show the history and culture of the different provinces of Pakistan. The Canal Mela attracts large crowds, especially families that come out to enjoy the weather and the lights. Needless to say, it is a huge success and a great source of entertainment for the masses.

Pakistan: A Pocket Friendly Tourist Destination

Lawn Mania

Spring is a very important time for the fashion and textile industry of Pakistan. Come spring and the billboards in Lahore are plastered with gigantic, larger-than-life pictures of beautiful models wearing rich and vibrant lawn shalwar kameez. Shalwar kameez is the national dress of Pakistan which consists of loose pants/shalwar, a kurta/kameez along with a stole/dupatta.

The arrival of spring also means warmer temperatures. That’s the time to pack up those heavy shawls and sweaters in exchange for the lighter and breezier lawn tunics.

But wait! Why use old clothes from last year when you can go crazy and splurge thousands of rupees on a new wardrobe? And honestly, it doesn’t feel so ridiculous when you’re actually living there and spending loads on lawn is the norm!

What is lawn exactly? “ Lawn cloth or lawn is a fine plain weave textile, now chiefly of cotton. Lawn is designed using fine, high-thread-count yarns, which results in a silky, untextured feel.” Source: Wikipedia.

Lawn clothes are a big deal in Pakistan. Aunties who have nothing better to do but to shop for themselves and their daughters, stand in lines for hours just to buy exclusive lawn designs! The competition is intense!

There are some videos on YouTube where you can see these aunties, literally fighting over lawn clothes! And yes, it’s ridiculous! But that is how seriously people take their lawn shopping in Lahore!

Some of the most fightworthy lawn brands are:

Elan

https://bit.ly/3yNYCoz
Duchess of Cambridge seen in an Elan outfit on her visit to Pakistan in 2019.

ÉLAN is a very popular brand among women who don’t want to compromise on quality or luxury. It is famous for producing elegant, opulent, and luxurious ensembles. Its success story began in 2006 with the launch of its intricately detailed and rich evening wear.

ÉLAN Lawn is the brand’s wildly successful seasonal unstitched printed fabric collection. It was first launched in 2012 and has quickly become a summer must-have.

ÉLAN Vital is a newly added line of casual ready to wear diffusion line. You can check out their clothes here: www.elan.pk

Maria.B

https://bit.ly/3tlgm9B
A white embroidered frock with a bright contrasting dupatta.

Maria.B is one of the leading brands in Pakistan. It provides an elegant fusion of east and west.

Mari.B provides unstitched collections in silk, lawn, linen, and sateen. Their silk collection is wildly popular. Almost all of their collections go out of stock soon after they are launched, which is a bummer for consumers like me.

Today MARIA.B.has an extensive retail network with 25 outlets within Pakistan alone. While also exporting to India, UK, USA, Bangladesh, UAE, and Qatar. Check out their silk collection here at www.mariab.ae .:

Sana Safinaz

This brand caters to all classes and ages as it produces lively, colorful prints. As well as somber shades well suited to older women.

Their collections include pret, diffusion, and bridal couture. The unstitched lines consist of silk, cotton, lawn, linen, and muslin.

Website: www.sanasafinaz.com

Zara Shahjahan

https://us.zarashahjahan.com/
An embroidered red kameez with a black and gold dupatta is perfect for special occasions.

Zara Shahjahan is one of the few brands that take inspiration from the history and heritage of the country. It promotes vintage Pakistani fashion. The materials used by Zara Shahjahan are of superior quality with great attention to detail.

Coco is their sub-brand made to cater to the everyday needs of the modern woman. Visit their website: www.zarashahjahan.com.

Ethnic

This is a brand that promotes the ethnic beauty and cultural diversity of the women of our country. It creates versatile ready-to-wear clothes for both men and women. It also makes clothes for kids. Shoes and accessories are a bonus part of this brand.

Website: www.ethnic.pk

Khaadi

Khaadi is one of the first brands that introduced lawn mania in Pakistan. Almost every woman had something or other from Khaadi. The ready-to-wear collection has a luxury line called Khaadi Khaas. This line caters to the needs of women looking to buy rich, elegant clothes that are ready to wear without the hassle of getting them stitched from scratch.

Khaadi is a balance of modernity and tradition. Modernity comes through uniqueness and a variety of designs and patterns. It frees women to choose a style that reflects their individuality, giving them the confidence to express a different side of their personality through their fashion choices.

Website: www.khaadi.com

Food and Lahoris

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Lahore food sreet at night.

Most Lahoris have a love for food that borders on obsession. Food is at the center of every Lahoris existence. Their lives literally revolve around food. It’s not just a means to quell one’s hunger. It is a way of expressing emotions as well.

People give lavish parties to celebrate anything good that might have happened in their lives. A new job, a new house, a promotion, the birth of a child. Any occasion can be used as an excuse to invite family members to a large feast of the best the city has to offer.

You can find an array of cuisines in Lahore, from Chinese to Korean, Italian, Japanese. You name it, they have it. But in Lahore, Desi food reigns supreme. Lahoris love their traditional food. Spicy, fried, or grilled, it’s the mouth-watering explosion of flavors that keeps them coming back for more. Anything less has no chance of surviving in the tough yet lucrative food business of Lahore.

Spring gives the people of Lahore an excuse to go out and mingle. The spring festival is another reason for them to enjoy the weather, the lights, and colors, and, of course, the delicious food.

Travel Guide: Must Try Traditional Foods While Traveling in Lahore

Some of the favorite dishes enjoyed by millions of Lahoris at home and abroad are:

Chicken Karahi

https://www.shanfoods.com/product/ready-to-eat/chicken-karahi/
Easy to add flavor with Chicken Karahi mix by Shan Foods..

Chicken karahi is one of the most famous dishes of the Indian Subcontinent. Originally, the dish was prepared in a karahi, which is a desi form of a wok. Hence the name, chicken karahi.

The chicken is fried in a rich tomatoey base along with green chili peppers, cilantro, and slivers of ginger. The dish is best served with naan, roti, or rice.

You can also find the recipe and an easy method to make good karahi here:

https://www.teaforturmeric.com/chicken-karahi

Nihari

https://www.shanfoods.com/product/recipe-mixes/curry/nihari/
Nihari – Shan Foods

It is also known as a lamb shank. Meat is slow-cooked along with spices which help to marinate the meat as well as cook it in the process. It can be made with shank meat of beef, lamb, mutton goat meat, or chicken. The bone marrow is mixed with the stew to add more flavor. Best served with naan and roti.

Haleem

This is a healthy, nutritious dish that consists of meat, lentils, and spices. You can even add oats to the mixture, which makes it healthier with a thick porridge-like consistency. It is garnished with crispy deep-fried onions, slightly fried slivers of ginger and lemon slices. Haleem is best served with naan and roti. Learn how to make haleem here:

https://www.teaforturmeric.com/easy-pakistani-haleem-recipe-instant-pot

Korma

Another meat dish with loads of spices is Korma. But what makes it different is the addition of cream or yogurt to the gravy. This makes the dish slightly tangy and thickens the gravy.

Best served with naan, roti, or rice.

Biryani

https://www.teaforturmeric.com/chicken-biryani/
The most loved by millions in Lahore.

This is, hands down, the most loved rice dish in Pakistan.

Biryani is an amalgamation of color and spices. The addition of meat adds to its richness and no wonder it is a favorite with the masses. Some people like to add potatoes and boiled eggs to their biryani as well. But that depends on your taste. Biryani is a proper meal and is best served with yogurt and fresh-cut vegetables. Here’s a link to help you make your own haleem at home:https://www.teaforturmeric.com/chicken-biryani

Naan

Naan is a leavened, oven-baked flatbread, found in the cuisines mainly of Western Asia, Central Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Caribbean.

Murgh Cholay

An absolute favorite, this dish consists of two of my favorite ingredients. Chicken and chickpeas. Murgh Cholay is especially loved as a breakfast food along with poori and halwa for dessert. Here is a link to the recipe:https://www.flourandspiceblog.com/murgh-cholay-or-chicken-chickpea-curry

Gulab Jamun

https://www.shanfoods.com/product/desserts/gulab-jaman-mix/
Easy to make with Gulab Jaman Mix by Shan Food.

In Pakistan, almost every good news is celebrated with a basket of gulab jamun. It’s a traditional sweet or mithai with its roots in medieval Iran.

It is made of khoya, which is made by drying or evaporating milk to give it a dough-like consistency. The balls of khoya are then deep-fried and soaked in piping hot syrup made of sugar and cardamon till they absorb as much syrup as they can.

Nowadays, it is made with powder milk as making khoya is very time-consuming. Gulab jamun is best served hot because then it retains its fragrance and soft gooey texture.

Jalebi

You might know a little about this sweet dish from the song Jalebi Baby. If not, here’s a link to the song for your entertainment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTmKrwFu7wg

Let me tell you what this” jalebi” actually is.

Jalebi is a famous traditional sweet made by deep-frying plain flour. It looks like pretzels and is circular in shape and orangish in color. Once fried, it is then soaked in a sugary syrup to add flavor.

It has a hard crystallized sugary exterior. It can be served cold or hot. I have no idea why it was used as a reference to describe a woman in the song though. But you can find the method to make jalebi here:https://hinzcooking.com/crispy-jalebi-recipe

Pink Tea

https://www.teaforturmeric.com/20-minute-kashmiri-chai-pink-tea
Nothing better than a hot cup of pink tea.

No gathering in Pakistan can ever be complete without tea. At the end of a night full of gossip and overeating, Lahoris love to drink a piping hot cup of Kashmiri pink tea.

It is literally pink in color.As a result, the chlorophyll present in the tea leaves is released when it is boiled in water. That’s how the tea gets its pink color. You can add cinnamon, cloves, and green cardamom to spice it up. Milk and sugar are added to taste. Some people also like to add salt to their pink tea. It depends on what you like. You can find the recipe and the method here:

https://www.teaforturmeric.com/20-minute-kashmiri-chai-pink-tea

To survive is to be resilient

The beauty of human nature lies in its ability to adapt. The fact that human beings can survive in foreign environments and different cultures is a testimony to the strength and resilience of human character. Nostalgia is a very powerful emotion. There is no denying that. But feeling nostalgic only shows the softer side of human nature.

Our ability to cherish our past, our memories and our relationships is what makes our weakness, our actual strength. I sympathize with those like me who are feeling the emotions that the changing season is stirring up. But I also believe that we are all strong enough to overcome these emotions. Our resilience is our greatest strength.


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2 thoughts on “The Nostalgic Memories of Lahore in Spring as an Immigrant Longing for Home

  1. Very well written. I am in scotland and have been away from lahore for a while. You’ve made me want to go back there again. As they say “The world is beautiful, but Lahore lahore ae”

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