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The Benjamin Sisters

Pakistan's resilient Christians: A series from GVS magazine.

Benjamin sisters
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 News Desk |

Do you remember the ‘Benjamin Sisters phenomenon’? They were a group of three melodious sisters who ruled the Pakistani music industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s, famously known as the ‘Benjamin Sisters’. Nerissa, Beena and Shabana Benjamin belonged to a humble Pakistani Christian family, who rose to fame in the subcontinent.

Read more: Dr. Ruth Katherina Martha Pfau: “Mother Teresa of Pakistan”

Their father Victor Benjamin, a passionate xylophone player, spotted his daughters’ talent and encouraged them to pursue music. The gifted Benjamin sisters joined the Sunday School choir at Christ Church, Rawalpindi. This was the only wee amount of training they needed, the rest nature took over and played its part! The melodious sisters were introduced to showbiz by Javed Allah Ditta, a renowned sitar player and member of the PIA Academy.

Dressed up in their matching shalwar and their identically arranged dupattas, the Benjamin sisters took the music industry by storm. They made their appearance in late the 1970s when Nerissa was 21 years old, Beena 16 and Shabana only 15 years old. Starting at a very tender age, the Benjamin sisters famously participated in music learning programs aired on Pakistan Television in 1968-1987. These programs were directed by a prominent music director – Sohail Rana. The sisters displayed a versatile singing style with their highly synchronized and rhythmic voices.

Read more: Pakistan’s Resilient Christians: Who they are, where they came from?

During a period in which General Zia’s rigorous Islamization campaign was at its peak, the Benjamin sisters created a whirlwind in the industry with their captivating soundtracks in Urdu and Punjabi. The sisters often paid tribute to highly acclaimed artists through their singing.

Famously known for their patriotic national songs; Iss parcham kay saye taley, hum ek hain,Ay roohe quaid aaj ke din ham tujh sey wada kartey hain, Khayal rakhna khayalra khna. The melodious tunes of Benjamin sisters are still hummed by many Pakistanis. However, belonging to an era when showbiz did not gel with married life, the sisters left the industry in 1987, at the height of their popularity. The sisters are married; Beena Benjamin now lives in Canada with her family, Nerrisa and Shabana are living in Pakistan and Dubai respectively with their families. The cherished icons of Pakistan, Benjamin sisters still remain in the hearts of many.

 


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