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Died3 November 2013 (aged 66)[1]
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Other namesReshman
OccupationFolk singer
Years active1968– 2004
AwardsPride of Performance Award by the President of Pakistan in 1982
Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) Award by the Government of Pakistan in 2008

Reshma (Urdu: ریشماں; c.1947 – 3 November 2013), was a Pakistani folk singer. Awarded with Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Star of Distinction), the third highest honour and civilian award in Pakistan among other honours, she is remembered for folk songs and her powerful singing voice.

Born in Rajasthan, India in a nomadic Banjara household in 1947, her family relocated to Karachi after the Partition of India. Discovered by a local producer at the age of twelve while singing at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Sindh, Reshma went on to record various folk songs for such labels as the Pakistan Radio.[1] Her first project with the company "Laal Meri" was an instant hit and she was catapulted to fame with several television appearances in the 1960s.[2]

Reshma went on to record songs for both the Pakistani and Indian film industry. Some of her most memorable songs include "Laal Meri", "Hai O Rabba Nahion Lagda Dil Mera", "Ankhiyan Nu Rehen De" and "Lambi Judai" among others.[3] She died on 3 November 2013 in Lahore, Pakistan, after suffering from throat cancer for several years.[1]

Early life[edit]

Reshma was born in the village of Loha, Ratangarh tehsil of Churu district, near Bikaner, Rajasthan around 1947.[4][2] Her father, Haji Muhammad Mushtaq, was a camel and horse trader from Malashi.[5] She belonged to a tribe which had converted to Islam. Her tribe migrated to Karachi shortly after the Partition of India, when she was just one month old.[4][6]

She did not receive any formal education and spent much of her childhood singing at the 'mazars' (shrines) of the mystic saints of Sindh, Pakistan. She was a vegetarian by choice and her favorite foods were 'saag' (cooked mustard greens), 'makai roti' (corn bread), and 'missi roti'.


Reshma was spotted, at the age of 12, singing at the Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar by then Pakistani television and radio producer, Saleem Gilani. Gilani arranged for her to make a recording of "Laal Meri Pat Rakhio" on Radio Pakistan in 1968.[2][5] She became an instant hit and since that day, Reshma has been one of the most popular folk singers of Pakistan, and garnered international renown.[7] Reshma had been appearing on television since 1968, recording songs for both the Pakistani and Indian film industry, and performing in live concerts at home and abroad.[8]

Some of her famous songs are "Dama Dam Mast Kalandar", "Hai O' Rabba nahion lagda dil mera",[1] "Sun charkhe di mithi mithi khook mahiya meinu yaad aunda", "Wey main chori chori teray naal laayyan akhhian" ( song lyrics by renowned Punjabi poet Manzoor Hussain Jhalla ), "Kithay Nain Na Jori", "Lambi Judai" and "Ankhiyan nu rehen de ankhyan de kol kol".[1]

The above song was used by Raj Kapoor in his film Bobby, "Ankhyon ko rehne de ankhyon ke aas pass", sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Her fame had crossed the border, thanks to pirated tapes. She was able to perform live in India much later, during the 1980s when India and Pakistan allowed exchange of artists. Subhash Ghai used her voice in the film Hero, which featured one of her most famous songs, "Lambi Judai".[9]

During her career she was invited to meet Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.[10]

In 2004, she recorded "Ashkan Di Gali Vich Mukaam De Gaya", which was used in the Bollywood film Woh Tera Naam Tha, and was also a hit record in India.[5][11]

In January 2006, she was one of the passengers on the inaugural Lahore-Amritsar bus, the first such service linking both parts of the Punjab since 1947. The bus had 26 passengers in total of whom 15 were Pakistani officials, and Reshma had booked seven seats for herself and her family. Reshma planned to give many performances in India on this tour.[12]

Her last residence was in the area of Ichhra in Lahore, Pakistan.[5]

Her younger sister Kaneez Reshma is also a professional singer.[13]

Health issues and death[edit]

Reshma was diagnosed with throat cancer in the 1980s.[1][2] In later years, her health deteriorated, leading President Pervez Musharraf to come to her aid, giving her one million Rupees to help pay off a bank loan, as well as putting her on a secured assistance of 10,000 rupees per month. He also helped her secure a plot of land for herself, but that did not go through due to the change in government.[14]

Her health deteriorated to such an extent that she was hospitalised in Lahore, Pakistan in 'Doctors Hospital' on 6 April 2013. The Punjab, Pakistan caretaker government elected to pay all her medical expenses. Tell her that she has lost weight and she promptly replies, "To kyā? Maiṅ is se slim, smart bhī to ho gaī." (So what ? I have grown slim and smart because of this), but then explains, "Doctors have advised me to curtail oily and spicy food." She readily used to admit, "I have no training in classical music, I do not know even the 'r' of any raga. So when I sing and miss any technical aspect, please forgive me," is what this humble soul used to say to the audience. "For me, there is no difference between India and Pakistan, they are like my two eyes."[5]

Reshma fell into a coma in October 2013 and died on 3 November 2013 in a Lahore hospital.[2][1]

Awards and tributes[edit]

A journalist from Karachi, Pakistan, Murtaza Solangi who also used to work for Radio Pakistan, had arranged for Reshma's performances at different radio stations in the 1970s, said," How could I forget Reshma? In my youthful years, her voice always enriched me and she connected Rajasthan, Cholistan and Sindh. She was a flower of the desert, symbol of love, music and peace".[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Legendary folk singer Reshma dies", Dawn (newspaper), 3 November 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2019
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Menon, Meena (3 November 2013). "Legendary folk singer Reshma of Lambi Judai fame passes away". The Hindu (newspaper). Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  3. ^ "Pakistani folk singer Reshma of 'Lambi Judai' fame dies". NDTV. 13 November 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b Srivastara, Sanjeev (2000) "Festive celebrations in Rajasthan" BBC News, 25 September 2000. Retrieved 14 July 2019
  5. ^ a b c d e Siddiqui, Rana (2004) "The singer, the song (Reshma's profile)", The Hindu (newspaper), Published 16 February 2004, Retrieved 14 July 2019
  6. ^ "Legendary Pakistani singer Reshma passes away after long battle with throat cancer" website, 3 November 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2019
  7. ^ Abbas, Shemeem Burney (2010). The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual: Devotional Practices of Pakistan and India. University of Texas Press. p. 26. ISBN 9780292784505.
  8. ^ Reshma's TV interview on YouTube Retrieved 14 July 2019
  9. ^ Chopra, Dinesh (2004) "Lambi judai? Reshma asks who's Tendulkar" Times of India, 14 April 2004. Retrieved 14 July 2019
  10. ^ Puniyani, Ram (2003) Communal Politics: Facts versus Myths, Sage, ISBN 978-0761996675, p. 101
  11. ^ "Reshma sings for Bollywood" Times of India, 20 January 2004. Retrieved 14 July 2019
  12. ^ "India-Pakistan bus links Punjab", BBC News, 20 January 2006. Retrieved 14 July 2019
  13. ^ "Kaneez Reshma crosses border to embrace Bollywood" Outlook India (magazine), 28 April 2006, Retrieved 14 July 2019
  14. ^ Pahwa, Kiran (2007) "Famed Pak singer Reshma seeks Musharraf’s help to get land", website, published 14 September 2007. Retrieved 28 Jan 2016
  15. ^ Reshma's award info on Dawn (newspaper) Published 15 August 2007, Retrieved 13 July 2019
  16. ^ "PTV World Awards", PTV (News), archived from the original on 18 January 2022, retrieved 22 February 2022

External links[edit]