THE MYTH OF HIRA MANDI
NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT
Efforts to resolve issues
In recent years the world is paying attention to the Hira Mandi of Lahore. First there were few documentaries, then few books, and then few films, all bent upon blackening the face of a Muslim culture, gone awry. The world’s oldest profession is not limited to the ‘Hira Mandi’ of Lahore. It is related to every society in the world, but the West has made it a modern institution of SEX-WORKERS. Funny, isn’t it. Romanticizing the worst of your social network. And the amazing part is that in a western society, where not only sex is allowed, but is routine in a guiltless environment, there is still the need for the sex workers to go into action. And the dirtiest act are filmed in photographs and video, and quaint practices, exported all over the world.
Some years back a ring was broken in Ceylon, where a missionary institution of a beach city, international monsters flocked to that city, to have sex parties with small boys. On television one could see photographs of the practices. But the Hira Mandi of Lahore still attracts international media attention, and neglect their own dirty linen washed in public.
What was Hira Mandi? A market set up to sell ‘ghala’ food stuffs by the handsome Sikh Sardar Hira Singh, son of Raja Dhian Singh. People fancifully think that the reference to ‘Hira’ is the reference to the ‘diamonds’ being rented out there, meaning the ‘kangris’ of Lahore. Obviously a misconception under all counts. So who made ‘Hira Mandi’ the den of prostitutes? The British, of course. And why? For that we have to study the history of Lahore.
My uncle used to tell me that ‘kangris’ of Lahore were everywhere. Every mohalla had a house of a prostitute too. If not all, at least most. That became an administrative issue. When the British took over Lahore in 1849, they had to consolidate the law and order. Laws were passed to regulate Gambling, as well as prostitution. The Hira Mandi was selected as a Red Light area, not merely for its convenience, but also due to the fact that the Badshahi mosque was just near the place. That gave them good propaganda mechanism to bring dis-credit to the Muslims here. But that is not all.
The British issued a licensing system for prostitution in Lahore. The Hindus got the license by saying that it was part of their religious duty. The Muslims declared it to be a ‘Muta’, or temporary marriage, to provide relief to travellers. For that all prostitutes had to declare their allegiance to the Shia doctrines, and that is why you see all Kangris of Hira Mandi following the Shia doctrine, and in the period of religious mourning, Hira Mandi is the one place, which is totally closed. This is not any calumny, but a fact of history, which cannot be challenged by anyone. Everybody knows it, and it was initially told to me by a reputed lawyer, of yester- years. That is the license system.
History goes further back to that. And that is when Aurangzeb Alamgeer had eliminated prostitution from Lahore, who brought it back? And that is another story!