By: Yousaf Ajab Baloch
ISLAMABAD: The colorful ten-day folk festival at Lok Virsa in Capital City Islamabad provided a platform to all the four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir for showing their wonderful local and regional stalls. The grand celebration included Live Theater, artisans at work, traditional apparel, food; music and cultural dance. Around 500 artists, singers and artisans participate and represent their cultural values with colorful performances showcasing dynamic rural life and culture.
The festival began on 7th April and continued at Shakarparian till 16 April aimed to bring cultures and civilizations of all regions of the country under one roof. Cultural pavilions of all four provinces along with Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir were established in the colorful festival, where Folk artists across the country joined the cultural fare to enthrall the visitors during the 10-day Lok Mela.
The folk festival was inaugurated by renowned artists Zarsanga and Tina Sani at Open Air Theatre on Friday with colorful performance of all four provinces including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed addressing the inaugural ceremony of ten-day folk festival welcomed the artists, artisans participating the Lok Mela.
Dr. Fouzia Saeed said that the festival would bring cultures and civilizations of all regions of the country under one roof, adding that Lok Mela aims at promoting, perpetuating and preserving arts, crafts, culture, folk music and traditional skills of Pakistan. “This unique event has now become a symbol of the federation and patronage to rich cultural diversity and active participation of the people.” She added.
Renowned artists Tina Sani and Zarsanga in their separate also lauded Lok Virsa for arranging such a colourful festival. They said that the event would entertain the visitors from across the country.
Zarsanaga also presented her famous songs and got big applause from the audience at jam packed Open Air Theatre of Lok Virsa. Renowned artists Gulab Khan Brother Ashraf Gulzar, Sohni Mahiwal, Fazal Jutt, Taimoor Afghani, Umer Marvi, Shaukat Ali and Sassi Panu performed in the opening ceremony and enthralled the audience.
For the first time Lok Virsa initiated shuttle service to bring visitors from various points to Lok Virsa.
The festival was of the great value due to the provincial pavilions showing various cultural themes, Lok Virsa pavilion, cultural food stalls, folk dances, folk music, shopping mall, kid’s corner, concerts in open air theatre and several others.
The unique event of Lok Mela was started in the year 1982, and now it has become a symbol of the federation’s recognition and patronage to the rich cultural diversity and active participation of the people of Pakistan. According to the Lok Mela organizers the main thrust of the 10-day festival is the focus on provincial harmony and national integration, with central focus on rural Pakistan, the direct beneficiaries of the festival is master artisans, musicians and other performers from the rural areas and remote regions of Pakistan.
On Sunday, 9th April, a special ceremony was organized by Lok Virsa to celebrate the Constitution of Pakistan, which was passed by the National Assembly on 10th April, 1973 and received Presidential assent on 12th April. Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani was the chief guest on the occasion. Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed, Parliamentarians, diplomats, citizens, artists and a large number of people from different walks of life attended the ceremony.
Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani in his speech highlighted the importance of Constitution Day on the occasion. He lauded Executive Director Lok Virsa for organizing cultural event in order to celebrate the Constitution Day on the occasion of Lok Mela. He lauded the performances of the folk artists from all four provinces who presented melodious songs in the cultural night.
The daily features of the Mela included 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 traditional food stalls of all four provinces including Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir also attracting a large number of visitors and people.
On fourth day of Lok Mela, musical night of Gilgit Baltistan was held at Open Air Theatre of Lok Virsa which was attended by a large number of People. The artists with famous songs of Gilgit Baltistan artists enthralled the audience at jam packed Open Air Theatre The event was also attended by senior of officials of Gilgit Baltistan government and Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed and a large number of people.
On 11th April Lok Virsa arranged special event to pay tribute to the legendary folk singers of the country by inviting the next generations of them. The legendary folk singers were paid rich tributes including Khamesoo Khan, Faiz Baloch, Murad Parqoi, Zarsanga and Reshma.
Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed said that Lok Virsa specially invited the next generation of our legends who are singing to perform and entertain the participants of the ten-day Lok Mela. She is said that Lok Virsa is making efforts to preserve and protect its cultural heritage in the country.
Son of Khamesoo Khan Akbar Khan, Faiz Baloch son Tajul, Murdad Parqoi son Liaqat, Zarsanga son Shezada, Reshma son Sanwan and Mehru performed mesmerized the audience by a splendid performance. The artists thanked Lok Virsa for arranging a special event to pay tribute to the legends singers.
On 13th of April in evening Kashmir cultural show was organized at Open Air Theatre to entertain the visitors of Lok Mela. Minister Sports, Youth and Culture Azad Jammu Kashmir Chaudhry Muhammad Saeed were the chief guest on the occasion.
Dr. Mustafa Basheer MLA, Farah Azeem Shah Ex MNA, Raja Muhammad Abbas Secretary Sports, Youth and Culture AJK, Sardar Parvez Akhtar DG Sports and Culture AJK and Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed also participated in the cultural show.
Kashmiri folk singers Bakhtawar, Rehmat Bano, Nadir Ali, Dalwar Abbas, Bushra Sadiq, Wajid Malik, Akbar Khan and Shakil Mir presented famous Kashmiri folk songs. They got a big applause from the audience at the jam-packed Open Air Theater on famous songs of Kashmir. Later, the artists also performed Kashmiri folk dances and entertained the audience.
Earlier, Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed in her welcome remarks said that Kashmiri music reflects the rich musical heritage and cultural legacy of Kashmir. She said that Lok Virsa is making efforts to promote the folk music of all the regions of Pakistan including Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Minister Sports, Youth and Culture Azad Jammu Kashmir Chaudhry Muhammad Saeed thanked the Executive Director Lok Virsa for arranging Kashmir cultural show at Lok Mela.
The Punjab Sufi night was also a great event to entertain the visitors of Lok Virsa. Punjab Sufi night was organized on 14th of April evening at Open Air Theatre. Additional secretary culture Punjab Samoon Rao was the chief guest on the occasion. The event was attended by Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed, senior officials of Punjab government and a large number of people from different walks of life.
Renowned Punjabi folk singers Saeen Zahoor, Allah ditta lonay wala, Qurban Niazi, Fazal Jutt, Rubi Resham and Bushra Marvi presented famous Punjabi folk songs. They got a big applause from the audience at the jam-packed Open Air Theater on famous songs of Punjab. Later, the artists also performed Punjabi folk dances and entertained the audience.
The chief participants of event and Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed said that Punjabi sufi music reflects the rich musical heritage and cultural legacy of Punjab.
The National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) on 15th of April organized a Balochistan traditional music show during its ongoing folk festival ‘Lok Mela’. Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed, Balochistan government officials and a large number of visitors of Lok Mela attended the show. Representative of Balochistan government said that Lok Virsa deserved commendation for promoting Saroz in such a beautiful way and the personal efforts of Dr Fouzia Saeed in projecting the true culture of Balochistan are praise worthy.
Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr Fouzia Saeed in her welcoming remarks said “Lok Virsa is a national institution established for the promotion and preservation of Pakistan’s folk and traditional heritage. “We undertook an initiative to promote “Saroz” as a symbol of peace, love and progress and to make it an instrument of youth where they learn it as an expression of love for their heritage and creativity for their future. We believe that this symbol will reflect the real people of Balochistan and bring the youth closer to their cultural identity.” She added.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) pavilion hosted their cultural night on 17 April, which featured popular folk artists, folk musicians and comedians including Gulrez Tabbasum, Neelo, Salma Naz, Said Rehman Shino, Uzair Sherpao, Bakhtiar Khattak, Khalida Yasmin and others. The Frontier Constabulary (FC) dance group brought by KPK cultural pavilion was the biggest crowd puller at Lok Mela.
In close proximity, a `Hujra’ had been created wherein musicians were presenting folk Pushto music “Tank Takor” whilst playing traditional musical instruments like `Rabab’, Table and Harmonium.
Barrister Abid Waheed Sheikh, Managing Director, Pakistan Bait ul Mal was the chief guest on the Awards distribution ceremony of the Folk Festival of Pakistan. Awards sponsored by Pakistan Bait ul Mal in terms of financial assistance were distributed among the winning master artisans, folk artists, folk dancers and performers on the recommendations of a national jury constituted by Lok Virsa for the purpose.
In his address, chief guest Barrister Abid Waheed Sheikh highly appreciated the role of Lok Virsa and its current management in projecting the Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage in such a beautiful manner. He said “Lok Virsa promotes traditional practitioners who are real bearers of our magnificent cultural heritage”. He assured full cooperation from his organization in all projects and programs of Lok Virsa in future as well.
The success of the Lok Mela was observed from the rich diversity of the crowd it attracted when a large number of people from different walks of life including professional and general masses, art and craft experts, cultural personalities, diplomats, political figures, media persons and students visited and entertained by the attractive performances of the artists. They praised Lok Virsa for arranging shuttle service to the Lok Mela.
Published in The Balochistan Point on April 20, 2017