The Nation, April 13, 2005  
Saeed working on folklore encyclopedia


Recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in Punjabi literature. People of the land of five rivers are going back to roots to derive joy and wisdom from the writings of the great Sufi poets. Many writers are delving into the old literature for fresh presentations and its profound understanding. Prof Saeed Ahmed Farhani, after presenting the hit Great Sufi Wisdom series on Waris Shah, Baba Farid, Shah Hussain, Bulleh Shah, Waris Shah and Mian Muhammad Buksh, is working on the Folklore Encyclopaedia of the Punjab these days.
The internationally well-known professor is recipient of Masood Khadarposh Award, Bulleh Shah Award, Mian Muhammad Buksh Award and Hashim Shah Award, apart from 13 books to his credit. The National Language Authority, Islamabad, published two of these books, while the rest he printed himself. He has done Masters in Punjabi and Economics. He teaches economics at Government College of Commerce, Rawalpindi; but his passion is Punjabi language and literature. While talking to The Nation Plus on Tuesday, Prof Saeed said that he presented different features of Punjabi Sufi poetry tradition. "My next books are on Khwaja Ghulam Fareed and Sultan Bahu. Another book 'Folk wisdom' is also ready, which highlights wisdom in the popular sayings of the rural areas. I have worked on this book to break the myth that village people are not as wise as the city dwellers. It is only that these common sayings were never brought to the fore," he said. About the encyclopedia, the Professor said that he was asked by the Institute of Folk Heritage, Islamabad to do research. "I have been working on it for the last one year. So far, I have completed half of the work. Roughly the encyclopedia will be of more than 1,000 pages providing information about everything to the folklore of the Punjab, including folk tales, music (mahiaey, geet, lorian, tapay), customs, castes, festivals, superstitions, spiritual places, ceremonies of all kinds, handicrafts and traditions. 
"Many things remain unexplained or have been distorted. For example, Baisakhi, which is now associated with Sikhs, was celebrated by people of all religions as a festival after good harvest," he said.
The Great Sufi Wisdom series of books include Roman-English transliteration and brief explanation of selected verses of poetry. He provides footnotes to explain the contents further. His works have been highly appreciated in many countries. He himself does the English rendering and transliteration of the original Punjabi text of the works of Sufi poets. Some of the books, he has written in Esperanto. His works have been translated in many languages of the world, including Romanian, French, Arabic, Polish, Russian and Kikongo that is spoken in the African state of Congo. Madzella Jean-Louis has translated his book on Waris Shah into Kikongo. Vera Matveyeva translated his books on Bulleh Shah and Waris Shah in Russian. Prof Saeed's passion is surely taking him places and in the process, he is spreading Sufi poets' message of the tolerance and peace across the globe, which is needed much in the present world.