Waris Shah’s Heer is an epic love poem fused with mystical notes. A treasure trove of Punjabi phrases, idioms and sayings, it transcends faith and boundaries, remaining popular across modern-day Punjab in both India and Pakistan and in diaspora communities around the world. Romantic love – the poetic expression of the mystical love of the human soul toward God – is the quintessential subject of Sufism and a recurring theme in Muslim, Hindu and Sikh mysticism.

The legend of Heer Ranjha is believed to be rooted in a real-life love story that played out on the banks of the river Chenab in 15th-century Punjab in the then-undivided India. It is the epic poem, or qissa, of this love story, completed in 1766, by the Sufi poet, Waris Shah, that has captured the imagination of the Punjabis across the centuries.

More than any other Sufiana Kalam, this is the poem that has eluded the traps of time to become entrenched in contemporary culture. It is embedded in cinema, literature and everyday life in a way that no other love story from the subcontinent has ever been.

This event will feature a short introduction by Virinder Kalra, followed by an extremely rare opportunity to hear the poem in its entirety, performed by Nadeem Abbas, a musician steeped in the Sufi tradition.

About The Speaker

Nadeem Abbas

Pakistani singer Nadeem Abbas has been singing since childhood and his musical style is steeped in the Sufi tradition.

About The Host

Virinder Kalra

Professor Virinder S Kalra teaches Sociology at the University of Warwick and is an expert in the fields of South Asian popular culture, specifically in relation to music of Punjab and the Punjabi diaspora. He is the author of several books, most recently, Sacred and Secular Musics: A Postcolonial Approach.