The enthusiasm of the organisers of the Sindh Festival 2014 has not been dampened by the recent controversies surrounding the choice of location for the inauguration ceremony. The 15-day festival will start as scheduled tonight at the historical site of Moen Jo Daro.
From sweepers, carpenters, to electricians and lighting crews, everyone is on their toes for the big day or what Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has termed a ‘cultural coup’. The festival is a brainchild of Pakistan Peoples Party patron-in-chief Bilawal.
“I am under a lot of stress,” admitted a rather exhausted Fakhr-e-Alam, one of the organisers. “After all, presenting the essence of Moen Jo Daro so many years after it has turned into a ruin takes a lot of effort.” For Alam, the inauguration ceremony is all about recreating the Indus Valley Civilisation through the ages and retelling the story of Sindh in the most engaging and educating manner.
Various kinds of lights and other luminescent devices are being incorporated to give an added dimension to the site so that it becomes more of an audio visual experience. “It will definitely be the most spectacular audio visual experience where people will get to feel the essence of our soil,” exclaimed Sharmila Faruqi, a cultural adviser to the chief minister.
Faruqi is most excited about the live performance by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan tonight but the rest of the line up of artists is no less than an episode of Coke Studio. There will be no speeches, only music by maestros, such as Saeen Zahoor, Fariha Pervez, Fuzon , Azal and Ali Gul Pir to name a few.
“I am honoured to perform at the opening ceremony being held at the cradle of our civilisation,” claimed Pir. “This makes it a unique performance and at the same time it gives me an opportunity to be a proud Sindhi and more so a Pakistani.”
Shallum Xavier, the guitarist of Fuzon, welcomed the idea of engaging pop-rock musicians in festivals that generally cater to folk and traditional music only. “This shouldn’t be a one-off event,” he said. “It will only help the artists if it becomes or sets a trend.”
The entire set-up of the show is being done by ‘Team NJ’, the company that has also previously done the set-up for Lux Style Awards. However, the highlight of evening will be a laser presentation by ‘Laseronix’ – a foreign laser presentation company known for doing laser presentation shows at various heritage sites, including The Pyramids of Egypt.
Moen Jo Daro to be kept intact, assures govt
The organisers of the Sindh Festival and the provincial government are taking all necessary precautions in order to ensure that the integrity of the Moen Jo Daro ruins remain intact, according to its organisers. The Unesco World Heritage site is the location of the opening ceremony scheduled for February 1 of the first Sindh Festival.
“We are grateful for the concern that has been shown on social media about protecting Moen Jo Daro,” said Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the festival founder and Pakistan Peoples Party’s patron-in-chief.
“We share their concern and have taken extraordinary and failsafe measures to protect this heritage site from any possible harm or damage.”
Sindh Archaeology Department Director Qasim Ali Qasim showed Bilawal around Moen Jo Daro to ensure that the construction work remained in compliance with international preservation standards.
“The stage and the seatings are not being installed on the ruins,” said Sharmila Faruqi, who is the adviser on culture to the Sindh chief minister.
“Preparations for the opening ceremony are being undertaken with all
due care and we are abiding by the advice of well-reputed conservationists, who we have consulted on the matter.”
When the precautionary measures were explained to Ali Gul Metlo, one of the original signatories of the letter of complaint sent to UNESCO, he said that he was “satisfied that all appropriate and necessary precautions are being taken” and added that he was happy to withdraw his complaint.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2014.