Lucknow is a city that is unlike any other in the country. Our history, our culture and our lifestyle is way different than that of any city and once a Lucknowite, you cannot find solace anywhere else except ‘home’. A city with such a rich cultural heritage, Lucknow is home to unique things that have long defined our culture and we Lucknowites are immensely proud of.
Yagana Changezi once wrote in appreciation of the magnificent city:
So, here’s a list of 7 things that we Lucknowites are proud of and we’ll cherish forever about the city.
1. The blend of different cultures (Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb)
Lucknow is famed for what the people call ‘Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb’, which simply refers to the mix of cultures and people that Lucknow represents. Not only was Lucknow home to the Nawabs, it was the home to Mughals, Persian settlers, the people of Oudh or Awadh and a British residence for the longest time. Hence the culture of this city is a beautiful amalgamation of it all. The Parsi flare, the Nawabiyat and the Awadhi shaan come together to make a culture that is unlike any where in the world and the culture we are extremely proud of.
2. The communal harmony
Lucknow has been home to people from different areas, of different cultures and of various religions. Which makes for one of the most sublime mix of diverse people and religions; yet, Lucknow has always been accepting, with its arms wide open and a smile on its face. Lucknow has never shied away from incorporating people and religions into its diabolical culture. Hence, the predominantly Muslim and Hindu communities have been living here with an attitude that is not only relaxed but accepting of the most uncommon.
3. The Language
Lucknow prides itself on the language the city speaks. Lucknow, home to the nawabs, has always been a city of urdu speakers while ‘Awadh’ as a region had awadhi or ‘khadi boli’ speakers. This influx of two languages gave birth to a common tongue which is extremely popular in Lucknow- a glorious blend of hindi and urdu, which make the words sound like sweet honey and the tone of the language becomes extremely delicate.
We as a community have a beautiful culture of writing, which has given us poets, shayars, qawwals and song-writers of great stature. From the nawab Wajid Ali Shah to Javed Akhtar, Lucknow has given birth a distinct line of people who have glorified the subtle beauty of the language.
4. The Architecture
It is a known fact that the Lucknowi architecture is a sight to behold. Lucknow’s architecture is much like the city’s culture- a stunning blend, from the prominent Persian domes of the ‘Imambada’ or ‘Ibadat ghar’ to the subtle arches and pillars that were common with the Mughals - the Rumi darwaza becoming a pinnacle of the prowess of the city’s architects. Lucknow also has buildings with the distinct European architecture, the Gothic style can be seen in the Christ church with twenty steeples on its top and a cross mounted over its northern entrance.
The architecture can be stared at for days and you don’t even have to look for specific things. The havelis and old houses of chowk still remain the stunning pieces of beauty they once were, reminiscent of an era of grandeur.
5. The Cuisine
Food is one of the most popular things in and about Lucknow. The city’s food, its use of florals and aromatics, the rich curries, the kebabs, the parathas and sheermals are famous all over the world. A person born and brought up in Lucknow will never be able to satisfy his tastebuds anywhere else in the world and it is a certitude. It is a known fact that the nawabs of Lucknow were staunch epicures and left in their stead an army of ‘khansamas’ and ‘rasoiyas’ who were masters in preparing food rich in taste, yet delicate on the stomach. From aromatic biryanis, nihari that is stewed overnight, indulgent desserts to kebabs that would just melt in the mouth, Lucknow has it all.
We also have a very strong street food culture where several kinds of chats, small bites and desserts are available. The food and the taste of this city is unparalleled.
6. Tameez-tehzeeb, ‘Hum’ and ‘pehle-aap’
Another thing Lucknow is known for is its ‘tameez’. Lucknow has a common anecdote which tells the tale of two passengers from Lucknow who missed the train because they kept asking the other to get on the train first; “pehle aap” they said. Jokes apart, the city has a wonderful consideration to it. People don’t just walk past each other with utter disdain, people in Lucknow are generally soft spoken, considerate and if you ask someone where they are going, they’ll tell you ‘Hum bas yahin tak jaa rahein hain’.
While it’s all good for fun and jokes, these small things make Lucknow a city you can never let go of.
7. The Regal fashion
Another thing the Lucknowites are quite proud of is its elegant and timeless fashion. We are talking about the delicate art of chikankari, the poise of zardozi thread work and the beauty of subtle velvet clothes adorned with a mesh and intricate work. What Lucknow may lack in modern fashion, it makes up in its heritage and timelessly elegant sense of fashion that had been and is still magnificent enough to put people in awe.
The fashion of the city is still something we are re-discovering, something that isn’t mainstream and is still better than anything Paris and Milan can churn out of their fashion factories.
Lucknow is a city of slow pace, a rich past and diverse people. It is a city which prides on being subtle, a city which is wealthy in arts and music, the birthplace of kathak, a city that is still laden with old world charm and the city we will forever be in love with. Here’s to Lucknow our city and our love.