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Shahi Shauq - The Mujra Stans of Punjab

In rural Punjab, Pakistan, Mujra Dance enthusiasts are referred to as those with Shahi Shauq (Royal Preference) or Shauqeen Mizaaj. Despite the elite class and state's attempts to stigmatize Mujra Dance with words like "vulgarity" and "obscenity," Punjab's youth, especially those from rural areas in Pakistan, are obsessed with it.

The Mujra performed in Punjab's commercial theaters is a microcosm of the region's pervasive love for this performing art. Because the term has become commonplace over time, it is difficult to ascertain whether everyone knows its origins. Mujra Dance originated in the Mughal Empire over 500 years ago. Courtesans provided the king and his court with entertainment through this dance. This is precisely why it is still referred to as "Shahi Shauq" (Royal Preference) in Punjab now, where Mujra continues to flourish through theatre stage performances, private gatherings known as functions, and rural bachelor parties attended by admirers and obsessives.


It is important to note that Mujra is desired by the Punjabis for reasons other than its sophistication and elegance. It has also evolved to accommodate contemporary audiences' preferences. In Mughal times, when the dance was performed only for emperors, kings, and their closest advisors, it was quite different and considerably less flamboyant; however, when it reached Punjab's commercial dancehalls centuries later, it became significantly more dynamic and stripped of concepts such as sophistication and class, which were royal preferences and did not resonate with the common people.


Even though Mujra dances now incorporate music by many other artists, Naseebo Lal's lyrics and beats initially powered the commercial Mujra scene in Punjab in the early 2000s. Numerous other Punjabi singers have sung songs frequently played at private functions in rural Punjab.


In Pakistan, where censorship boards constantly seek an excuse to ban this practice and its practitioners, it is still bursting at the dance halls, pushing boundaries. Moreover, dancers have been shot and killed by rejected and jealous lovers, cultural saviors, and often arrested by the police. The term Shahi Shauq may also refer to these individuals and groups.

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