Abida Parveen: Ho Jamalo

Posted on November 15, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Culture & Heritage, Music, People, Poetry
Total Views: 47043


Adil Najam

We come from a land of some amazing folk anthems. But none, at least for me, has the all-encompassing trance-enducing effect that Ho Jamallo has.

Of course, you cannot possibly sit still through any rendition of Shahbaz Qalandar, but nothing makes one lose ones sense of presence in the present quite the way that Ho Jamallo does. And who better to sing it than Abida Parveen.

This rendition is just as it should be. “Led” by Abida Parveen but sung by the entire room. Every time I listen to this, I feel like wanting to join that first guy who gets up to dance – I, too, cannot dance!

I probably would not get up to dance. But I know exactly the state that he is in. In many ways he – and those who join him – embody the spirit of this anthem even more than Abida Parveen does. It seems that for Abida Parveen, as for them, this is not a “performance” for the audience. This is a “performance” for one’s own self. And, of course, the pinnacle of all art has to be that which you perform for yourself.

I know enough Sindhi to follow some, but not all, of what the words mean. I have not been able to find a good translation and maybe we should all pool our skills to put one together here.

I am hoping that our friend Mast Qalandar (aka Aziz Akhmad) will find it in him to do a post on the history and meaning behind “Ho Jamalo.” I have been able to find little snipets of what this means and why. Maybe, those who know better can fill us in on the details.

Help us, please, write this post.

What is the history of this song and the “Ho Jamalo” chant? What do these words mean? And why does thsi have the effect it has even on those of us who only partially understand the words?

I had really hoped to write a post on all of that, but everytime I hear the song I go into a trance and feel that maybe I should be dancing to the song rather than writing about it!

Also see at ATP:
Faiz Mohammad Baloch: A True Performer
Tribute to a Musical Giant: Khamisu Khan and Son
Tufail Niazi: An Amazing Singer’s Amazing Story
Today in Kot Addu: Remembering Pathanay Khan
Rahim Shah: Going Beyond the Frontier
Atta Ullah Eesakhelvi and the Cassette Revolution
Reshma and Son: The Voice of the Desert

13 Comments on “Abida Parveen: Ho Jamalo”

  1. Sara says:
    November 15th, 2008 12:10 pm

    Adil, you have a fine taste in music. I always enjoy your posts on our folk music. I have just recently started listening to this ‘real’ music as I am part of the generation that grew on the pop music. Abida Parveen, Tina Sani, Allan Faqir for sure are mesmerizing. I will appreciate frequent posts or suggestions on these as this music gives me hope and courage to keep moving forward despite the turmoil that surrounds us in Pakistan.

  2. Ch. Anwar Ali says:
    November 15th, 2008 12:23 pm

    I am a long time reader but have never commented before. This is such an excellent selection and both the song and your words resonate with me, so I thought I will write a comment this time.

    I believe this song celebrates the life of a folk hero. Here is what I found on the internet and it is similar to what I have heard before: “It celebrates the gallantry of the 18th century warrior, “Jamal Khan Rind”, who defended his homeland from foreign invaders. Tales of his courage spread from village to village. The song describes Jamalo as ten feet tall with flashing red eyes.”

  3. Eidee Man says:
    November 15th, 2008 2:45 pm

    Nice post! I can help you translate, BTW.

  4. Adnan Ahmad says:
    November 15th, 2008 7:23 pm

    Sindh the beautiful.

  5. Sridhar says:
    November 15th, 2008 9:19 pm

    “Ho Jamalo” is one of my all-time favorite songs, popularized by one of my favourite singers – Abida Parveen. I eagerly look forward to more information about the song, its history and its meaning.

  6. LOST HOPE says:
    November 16th, 2008 12:02 am

    Dear Adil Sahib .im your fan from your ptv time.this is my last comment on your site.
    SACHA WAQIA,aik dako karachi ki mini bas main bhikari ky roop main chrha or ALLAH ky nam bheek mangi.kisi na di or
    T.T ky nam sab kuch dy dia.
    I know most of you people not live in Pakistan so you can not understand what is going on here .our beloved country is become a factory of criminals why ,we all know ?

    Beg A Cause.
    We PEELA (yellow) school class have a fault to keep dreaming
    For equal opportunity Pakistan.
    Lets read a true story and sleep tight.
    Last year Baba Qasim (a very old electrician) come to me for chit chat.
    He was very happy as his son passed metric (10th grade ) with
    Good marks.
    He had lot of dreams in his eyes for his son

  7. AHsn says:
    November 16th, 2008 5:53 am

    She is great. The rendition of Urdu Ghazal by Abida Parveen is remarkable . My favourite is:

    s*afaq, dh*anak, mahtAb, gh*aTAaeyN, tAreY naghmeT, bijly, ph*Wl
    Aus dAman meyN keyA kuj* haY, woh dAman hAth* meyN aeY tw

    I very strongly support your suggestion that Mast Qalandar writes a post on Jamalo, Abida Parveen and Shahbaz Qalandar. Firstly, who can do a better job on Shahbaz Qalandar than Mast Qalansar?.Secondly, I find he is wasting his time and energy by involving himself in a political war against corruption in journalism. This war itself is just, but the problem is that he is doing it on behalf of some well placed gangsters against a lonely and self Don Quixote

    N.B. W= wao w with sound oo, j*=ch, s*=sh

  8. MQ says:
    November 16th, 2008 9:46 am


    I don’t know which part of the brain this kind of music affects, but Abida Parveen’s music, her tone and tenor combined with the mystic poetry that she chooses to sing, has an uplifting effect. It sends you in a kind of a trance. That’s how I feel when I listen to it.

    The other day, a nice bright day, when I stepped out of my apartment armed with my IPod, which has a few Abida Parveen songs on it, our concierge, a young friendly Purto Rican woman, sitting behind the counter, asked me what kind of music I was listening to. I handed her one of the earpieces of my IPotd, which she put into her ear. It was Abida Parveen’s song ‘Daman lagi aaN, maula maiN tau teri aaN’. Those of you who have heard the song would know the song starts with Abida raising her voice in a haunting spiritual chant: Maulaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa paak muqaddas dar hai teraaa.

    I watched the expression on the face of the concierge change from a curious smile to a joyous glow, and she got up from the chair said, almost shouting, ‘Wooooow!!!’ and then asked me ‘What is she saying?’. I guess, if she had understood the words she would have actually started dancing in the lobby. l

    I have noted Adil Najam’s request and AHsn’s endorsement. When I go back to Islamabad in a week or two (now that I hear load-shedding is down to only 2 hours a day), I will see what can I find on Ho Jamalo and Shahbaz Qalandar and will certainly share with ATP.

  9. Misbah Kasi says:
    November 16th, 2008 10:57 pm

    dear Mr. Adil,

    The way you have discribed the feeling when Ho Jamalo is played is great. I think yhats how most of us feel. I have at an ocasion or 2 my self danced at this tone at some wedding in some village in quetta.
    And you are so right “its is a performance for one self”. Our folk heretege is so awsome but unfortunately we are slowly loosing it.

    I have been visiting pakistaniat.com for quite some time now and i really like the content and the maturity of the people here. I have read alot of articles and blogs but never have written my comments untill today. Idont know why i really liked the way you talked abt ho jamallo. I simply love it too.

  10. Tina says:
    November 17th, 2008 7:08 am

    I have seen Abida Parween perform back in the 1990s, but recently heard that she has passed away. Is this true? And if so when did she die?

  11. baytunur says:
    June 8th, 2009 3:51 am

    Ministry of Culture – Government of Pakistan website says:

    Ho Jamalo
    Hey Jamalo or Ho Jamalo is a Sindhi dance which interprets the battle and folk legends of the province. It is danced on the occasions of festivity and celebration. The song tells the tale of the legendary 18th century Sindhi warrior Jamal who defended his homeland against foreign invaders. The main singer sings the verses praising Jamalo’s bravery and each verse is accompanied with shouts of Ho Jamalo by the dancers who go round the main singer, doing simple dance steps. The song picks up speed towards the end.

  12. Vishal says:
    March 3rd, 2010 5:50 am

    Hey Tina
    Abida is still alive and performing at its peek,

  13. Umair says:
    November 25th, 2010 1:39 pm

    Please Translate into English..:
    Jamal ik Kedi tha jo Jail me Kaid tha.. Angrez Built the Sukkur Barrage, that was very big barrage in SINDH. so for testing purpose.. no body was ready to cross the train from barrage.. so at that time GOVT announces jo Train Cross karega ause Inaam milega.. then Jamal ne Train chalai.. :) then won the game.. means jeet gaya train cross the barrage ..
    so its Ho Jeko Khati Ayo Khair saa.. :” ho Jamal Ho :)”
    Unhe Sukkur wari Pul te.. Ho jamal Ho..
    thats.it :)

    Send Your Comments @ Umairsario@gmail.com.

    Your SINDHI..

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