Lok Virsa Mela awakens the essence of folk traditions

Lok Virsa Folk Festival

The 10-day folk festival of Pakistan, popularly known as “Lok Mela”, began on Friday at Shakarparian.

This mega annual cultural event is organised by Lok Virsa, an autonomous cultural organization working under Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, from April 3 to 12.

The inaugural ceremony of Lok Mela was held at Lok Virsa Open Air Theatre, where Dastarbandi and Chaddar Poshi was performed by the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Secretary Azam Khan.

This year Lok Mela introduced a new tradition whereby, Chaddar Poshi of nomadic folk singer Zarsanga from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Dastarbandi of master craftsman (block maker) from Sindh Imdad Ali Vighio took place.

Zarsanga is a known name across the country and Afghanistan. Her singing focuses on ancient nomadic themes. Imdad Ali Vighio practiced the rare craft of block making for more than forty years. His contributions are immense in safeguarding the old age techniques of the craft.

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/her stature. Through Dastarbandi Ceremony, Lok Virsa offers tribute to the services of artisans/artists keeping in view their contribution to the cultural heritage of the country.

In his address, Chief Guest Azam Khan said, “The folk artists and artisans are the face of Pakistan and we are proud of them. Lok Virsa is doing a great service to the nation as it is striving hard to preserve our indigenous folk traditions, promote and project them at the national and international level. This is not only important but also essential and the need of hour.” He further added that it is policy of the government to give balanced representation to all provinces and regions in order to safeguard their traditional culture.

The secretary assured full cooperation to Lok Virsa and the Mela participants on behalf of his ministry for holding the event successfully. He said, “Lok Mela is a true depiction of rural Pakistan. Lok Virsa deserves commendation for organizing a special exhibition of dying crafts during the Lok Mela to highlight those crafts that are diminishing due to new techniques involved in craft making and else.”

In her welcoming address, Lok Virsa Executive Director Dr Fouzia Saeed said 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.

She assured master artisans, folk artists and musicians coming from all the provinces and regions a very warm hospitality at Islamabad during the Mela period.

The Lok Virsa ED said, “The major thrust of the Mela is the focus on provincial harmony and national integration highlighting the contribution of our people in building future Pakistan.”

Dr Saeed apprised that Lok Mela aims at reviving dying crafts of Pakistan and hence is focused on diversity within the province. Mela provides an opportunity to craftspeople not only to display their workmanship at the federal capital but also to sell their products to public without the 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 for 10 consecutive days 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 main features of the Mela include Exhibition of dying crafts of Pakistan, provincial cultural pavilions, Chitral and Kalash pavilion, folkloric song & dance ensembles, rural musicians, cultural evenings, promotional stalls by public organizations and NGOs, craft bazaar, traditional food cuisine, food stalls and special attractions for children amusement.

A large number of people from different walks of life attended the ceremony and enjoyed thrilling performances presented by folk artists and musicians. Lok Mela will continue till April 12 with all its festivities and attractions. Daily timings are from 11am to 10pm.

Source: Pakistan Today

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