If there is one lesson to be had from the recently concluded 10-day Lok Mela, it is that in every nook and cranny of the country, there is a wealth of talent, be it in folk songs or in crafts. But these artists continue to be neglected and their skill looked down upon.
The annual Lok Mela, organised by National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa), served as a reminder about these talented and diverse artists.
The festival was brought to a close by with a colourful cultural performance showcasing traditional dances and songs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday evening.
Over the course of the ten-day event, over than 700 folk artists, musicians and performers participated in the event, enthralling visitors who were attending the festival in large numbers.
The event aimed to promote and preserve arts, crafts, culture, folk music and traditional skills of Pakistan.
Pavilions had been set up, divided for the provinces including Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), displaying cultural aspects of these areas were also set up.
Folk artists at these pavilions performed their traditional songs and dances in full traditional garb.
Moreover, a craft bazaar was buzzing with craftsmen from all provinces. The bazaar was an amalgamation of cultures from across Pakistan, AJK and G-B
Apart from that, traditional food from these regions was also available at food stalls to cater to the pallets of visitors.
Apart from celebrating geographical cultures, the Lok Mela also celebrated the Vaisakhi Festival at the open-air theatre of Lok Virsa in which renowned singers paid tribute to the legendary folk artists of Punjab. The mela also celebrated the Constitution Day.
The mela also paid tribute some of the legendary folk singers in a special event in which the next generation of these legends was specially invited to perform and entertain participants of the festival.
On the last day of the Lok Mela, Lok Virsa Executive Director Dr Fouzia Saeed said its main focus had been provincial harmony and national integration. She appreciated all the artists, artisans and termed them the country’s ambassadors.
During the closing ceremony, certificates and cash awards were also presented to folk artists and musicians who performed at the festival.
Dr Saeed said that these folk songs and dances by artists showcased the rich cultures of different regions of Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2017.