People sat enthralled as various folk and regional music artists serenaded Shakarparian on the formal inauguration of Lok Virsa’s cultural festival Lok Mela in Islamabad on Saturday.
The festival seeks to promote cultural artisans from across the country including artists hailing from far-flung areas.
Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, who inaugurated the event, said, “We need to promote culture to fight the cancer of terrorism.”
Lok Virsa has a long standing tradition of Dastarbandi or Chadarposhi. This ceremony is a symbol of Lok Virsa’s sustained campaign to keep the heritage of Pakistan alive and continuing. A turban in folk mythology of Pakistan is synonymous to doing great honour. When you place a turban on someone’s head you have placed your complete trust in that person’s wisdom and stature in life.
This is Lok Virsa’s way of showing that the craftspeople and folk artists play an important role in Pakistan’s identity and they have made a great contribution to our culture. After the turban is placed on the artist’s head, a poetic composition called “Sehra” is recited to honour the master artisan/artist. Drums resound proclaiming the artist’s attainments, and coloured balloons go up in the air.
This year’s recipient Aziz Fatima hails from Balochistan. She has excelled in the art of traditional Baluchi embroidery and learnt this centuries’ old tradition from her mother. Fatima has exhibited not only her enthusiasm and skill as an artisan but also showed total dedication and motivation for the preservation of the art itself. She has also trained younger artists so the skill can be carried on through the ages.
After the Chadarposhi ceremony, Awan opened the festival for the locals to enjoy and learn from. The festival will continue till Sunday, June 12.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2011.