All that you have heard and read about Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb is reflected in Awadh Symphony. You get a look into the past, the vibrant culture — the arts, the food, the people, rituals and bazaar life, and most importantly, the courtesans of the period (both Muslims and Hindus).
It would not be amiss to consider this as a dictionary — you open any section and start reading. The details are comprehensive, complete with pictures.
Almost as soon as we got the book, we dipped into the culinary and courtesans section. The section on courtesans is titled ‘Society and Women’ and besides talking about the beauties and their art, it also gives an insight into the rights and duties of Muslim women, the refinement and deportment that comes with being the lady of the house.
Divided into three sections — Customs and Traditions, Cuisines, Culture and Crafts and Society and Women — it covers all the areas that a Lakhanavi is associated with.
Under Cuisines, Culture and Crafts section — the pastimes that the nobility engaged in are worth reading. Many of these indigenous games, art forms and skills are forgotten and so the author, who is unfortunately no more, must be thanked, for reintroducing us to our history. Alongwith that creeps in politics and the military rules.
Aslam Mahmud’s in-depth research (the bibliography of the references runs into 11 pages and the index into another 14 pages) ensures that we are presented with an accurate picture of our past; this is all the more important, considering that new social histories are being written. Awadh Symphony ensures that all is in harmony.