The 10-day folk festival of Pakistan, popularly known as ‘Lok Mela’ opened on Friday with the traditional ‘chadarposhi’ and ‘dastarbandi’ of senior artisans. The mega annual cultural event is organised by the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa). It will continue till April 10.
The inauguration ceremony was held at Lok Virsa open air theatre. Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Senator Pervez Rashid was the chief guest. Federal Secretary, Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Imran Gardezi was also present on the occasion.
The chief guest performed ‘chadarposhi’ of Khurshid Nauma, an 80-year old master artisan in Sharma weaving and Namda making from Shimshal, Gilgit-Baltistan and ‘dastarbandi’ of an eminent Saroz player Sachu Khan from Sui, District Dera Bugti, Balochistan . Both the traditional practitioners possess a vast knowledge and experience in their respective fields and contributed a major part of their lives for the continuance of their traditions.
‘Dastarbandi’, a turban in folk mythology of Pakistan is synonymous to great honor, self-respect and courage. By placing a turban on some one’s head, a complete trust is rested in that person’s wisdom and his or her stature. Through ‘Dastarbandi’ or ‘Chadarposhi’, Lok Virsa offers tribute to the services of artisans keeping in view their contribution to the cultural heritage of the country.
In his address, Senator Pervez Rashid said that Pakistan has a very rich and diverse culture. “People living in each province and region proudly practice their indigenous folk culture. Lok Virsa is doing a great service to the nation by preserving our folk traditions and projecting them at the national and international level. This is not only important but also essential and the need of the hour. Lok Mela is a true depiction of rural Pakistan. It reinforces national harmony and integration by promoting our cultural heritage through active participation of all provincial governments, master artisans, folk artists, performers and musicians”.
He said that it is policy of the government to give balanced representation to all federating units in safeguarding their traditional culture and Lok Mela is the best example of this policy. The Minister assured full cooperation to Lok Virsa on behalf of his Ministry for successful holding of this huge festival.
Earlier in her welcome address, Dr. Fouzia Saeed, executive director of the Lok Virsa, gave a brief overview of the concept and objectives of Lok Mela with special reference to the mandate of Lok Virsa, i.e. research, collection, documentation, preservation and dissemination of Pakistan’s tangible and intangible heritage.
“Our focus is on the promotion of our folk cultures and inculcating them in the lives of people as a means of rejuvenating our pride in who we are as a nation by appreciating our pluralistic identities”. She assured all the participants a very warm hospitality at Islamabad during the ‘mela’ .
Lok Mela focuses on diversity within provinces and provides an opportunity to craftspeople not only to display their artisanship at the federal capital for ten consecutive days but also to sell their products to public without involvement of middleman, thus enabling them to understand the marketing mechanism of various crafts. The ‘mela’ also serves to afford an opportunity to the diplomatic community to witness authentic folk musical and cultural entertainment besides buying traditional items on affordable prices.
Around 500 artisans and artists from different parts including remotest regions are participating in Lok Mela, bringing with them their creativity in arts, crafts and innovation.
The daily features of the ‘mela’ include provincial cultural pavilions, folkloric song and dance ensembles, rural musicians, cultural nights, shopping mall, craft bazaar, artisans at work, traditional food court and many other attractions.
The theme of the first day of the festival was ‘Nowruz’ and the ambiance of the day long activities revolved around it. A special ‘Nowruz’ table was decorated and placed on stage during the opening ceremony.
A large number of people from different walks of life attended the ceremony and enjoyed thrilling performances presented by folk artists and musicians.
Later, the minister visited each provincial and regional pavilion and met rural artisans, folk artists, musicians and performers hailing from different provinces, regions, remote and far flung areas. Each province has erected its cultural pavilion focusing on a specific theme. Punjab pavilion depicts the richness of Cholistan desert and its beautiful traditions and architecture. Sindh has showcased Tharparkar, Balochistan Makran and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chitral. Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir cultural departments have also set up their beautiful cultural pavilions at the festival grounds.
Lok Mela will continue till April 10, 2016 with all its festivities and attractions. Daily timings are from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.