[LEFT]Lahore is touted as the cultural hub of Punjab and the heart of Pakistan. There is a famous saying here in Pakistan “jinnay Lahore nahi vekhea o jamya nai” which roughly translates into (anyone who hasn’t seen Lahore, hasn’t been born yet) and many believe that the main attraction of Lahore is its diverse and ever so colourful culture and its majestic heritage. Lahoris know how to celebrate life and that is shown by the variety of festivals held in the city, ranging from basant to the mela of Data Darbar. Lahoris love their food and this is evident from the fact that there are 1,000 of restaurants in Lahore offering cuisines from every corner of the world. Especially the renowned Food Street located near the famous Badshahi mosque depicts the true Lahori culture and their love of food. Apart from these celebrations, Lahore has always been an integral part of the Pakistani politics, and hence this diverse culture has given birth to a unique social, political and natural environment.

Impact on social environment
Lahore’s food loving culture has made food a vital part of its environment. With restaurants selling traditional Punjabi food in every corner, people have easy access to food. According to a quote, Lahore is known as the “Foodistan of Pakistan”. Because of so many different restaurants, the competition has increased and hence resulted in cheaper rates for the food lovers. The Food Street in Lahore, such as, is a center of Pakistani traditional food. It is surrounded by buildings that are many centuries old and the beautiful Persian-Kashmiri architecture that is used in the neighbouring buildings reflects the richness of the culture as well as proves to be a major attraction for tourists. Visitors are welcomed 24/7 for enjoying the food and the great ambiance that is created by the musicians as well, who are skilled in playing traditional musical instruments such as flute and tabla. Lasi (a traditional drink made by yogurt and milk) is one of the things that Food Street is famous for. In Punjab they say, “Asi tusi tay Lasi” (We You and lasi). Therefore Lasi is a very important ingredient in breakfast of Punjabis and especially Lahoris. But it is not just food that’s celebrated here, lahoris tend to celebrate every aspect of life and hence it is no surprise that tons of festivals are held in Lahore. Festivals such as basant used to be celebrated with way more enthusiasm in Lahore than in other city of Pakistan because of the fun loving culture. This festival is actually to welcome the spring season and it is celebrated by flying kites. Mela Chiragan (festival of lights) is also an example. It is a three days annual festival which marks the urs (death anniversary) of Shah Hussain, the famous Punjabi Sufi poet and saint. During these festivals, the tourism industry also flourishes as people, from all over the globe fly in to enjoy and celebrate these festivals and dwell in the rich culture and heritage that they have to offer. Hence these festivals plays a great role in up lifting the mood, providing distraction from the other frustrations in life and overall creating a positive atmosphere as a whole.

But then there are negative impacts of this as well. The over consumption of food leads to obesity in people and because of this, these people tend to get involved in major health issues and problems such as heart diseases, kidney failure etc, and hence the traffic in hospitals increases because of this food loving culture. Festivals like Basant can prove to be extremely dangerous as the string that is used for the kite flying is usually covered in glass powder. This makes it really sharp and has proved to be really dangerous. In the past few years, numerous cases have been reported in which deaths have resulted due this sharp string that have cut through the necks of usually people who use motorcycles as a mean of transportation. While on the other hand melas like Data Darbar are often considered to be extremely unhygienic places and a hub of diseases. All this leads to an increase in traffic of hospitals.

Where parks were once a place of family picnics, now are being replaced by other forms of entertainment such as cinemas and shopping malls

Lastly, the influx of tourists has its drawbacks also. The government needs a lot of money to accommodate such a number of tourists. The crime rate also increases as a lot of people fly in from other countries and people also move in from the outskirts into the main city and these people then prove to be easy targets for thugs.

Impact on natural environment
What about the impact of Lahori culture on its residents? Well Lahore’s culture is slowly changing as people are moving forward and more towards a modern lifestyle. The traditional Tongas have almost completely lost their value and joint family systems are on a decline. This has led to more construction in the city which has, in turn, resulted in more and more trees being cut and land being cleared. The huge loss in the number of trees has caused the pollution to increase. This is because, in the absence of trees, the amount of carbon dioxide increases and oxygen decreases. Also pollution is on a rise with the ever increasing automobiles which have replaced the environmental friendly Tongas and Baggi. Where parks were once a place of family picnics, now are being replaced by other forms of entertainment such as cinemas and shopping malls. This has led to a decrease in the number of new parks of the likes of Jallo Park. All these have a negative impact on the environment and are causing huge pollution problems. However the appreciation of beauty in Lahori culture and the endeavours of the government have kept the hope alive. According to new schemes such as ‘sohna Lahore’ (beautiful Lahore) that are being proposed by the government of Punjab, new plants and trees are planted to beautify the city.