For the past seven years, people across the province of Sindh have gathered on December 13 to celebrate their caps, clothes and culture. Mach Katcheries [campfire assemblies], musical programmes and rallies were held across Sindh to mark Sindhi Culture Day this year too.
The day was first observed in 2009 in reaction to the criticism towards former President Asif Ali Zardari for wearing a Sindhi cap or topi during an official visit to Afghanistan.
Scores of people gathered outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Sunday to celebrate and listen to folk singers such as Ahmed Mughal, Shabana Perveen, Wachan Sindhi and others who sang Sindhi folk songs. Men, women and children dressed in white shalwar kameez, Sindhi topi and ajrak danced together, expressing love for their province.
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Different political parties also joined the main gathering at the KPC. Small and large rallies congregated at Sea View, while families and youth on motorcycles roamed around the KPC vicinity.
"I attend this event each year, along with my family," said Muhammad Hussain from Malir. "[Doing so shows] an unconditional love for my culture," he added. "The day also shows how peaceful the people of Sindh are and that there is no discrimination among them."
Sajid Khaskheli from Clifton explained that cultural day is also called 'Eketa Day', with eketa meaning unity.
Mach Kacheris, musical performances and gatherings were also arranged in different areas of the city, including Malir, Khokhrapar, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Ibrahim Hyderi, Lyari and other areas.
In Sukkur, celebrations started with the lighting of earthen lamps and musical nights. Mach Katcheries were organised, where poets and intellectuals presented their poetry and songs to pay tribute to Sindh.
A large number of people wearing traditional Sindhi caps and clad in Ajrak took to the streets, while dancing to the tune of Sindhi folk music. Participants of rallies organised by different political and social groups gathered near the district prison and began their journey to Minara Road, where a musical programme had been arranged.
People of other ethnicities also took part in the celebrations, expressing their love for their province.
People thronged the streets of all the urban and rural towns in Hyderabad district as well. They went as far as to decorate their cars and motorcycles with ajrak and other decorative handicrafts. Every major intersection and road echoed with nationalist songs, which kept energising the rollicking participants of the rallies.
"This day evokes our affinity with our traditions and culture. We are reminded of our [cultural] identity," claimed Khalid Dars, a participant of the rally, which was among several taken out by the people of Qasimabad Town in Hyderabad.
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Political parties and regional media groups also organised events and rallies to celebrate cultural day. "[The celebration of] this day is necessary to keep our culture alive at a time when other cultures and foreign influences are fast making inroads in Sindhi society," said Rubina Abro, a university student participating in a musical programme at the Sindh Museum.
Political leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Muslim League — Functional, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and nationalist parties took part in the festivities.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement also arranged a cultural programme at its zonal office in Hyderabad where guests were gifted ajraks and topis.
The day also boosts sales for the manufacturers of ajrak and topis, which make record sales due to the event.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2015.