ISLAMABAD: Arts and crafts from all over the country are being featured in the ongoing Lok Mela 2018 being held at the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) in Shakarparian.in the federal capital.
Folk artistes, artisans and craftsmen have descended upon the Mela from every nook and corner of the country.
Similarly, a contingent from the beautiful valley of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) consisting of several craftsmen specialising in papier mache, wood carving, namda, gabba, Kashmiri shawl and embroidery are part of the contigent.
Shaista Rehman, who specialises in the famous Kashmiri art of papier mache, is the most prominent Kashmiri artisan at the festival. She is also an accomplished artist in stain glass, fabric designing and traditional furniture painting. She has represented her skills and creativity at local as well as international festivals, and has won several cash prizes and certificates for her work.
Kamran Butt is another prominent artist representing the AJK pavilion. He is a master craftsman in wood carving who uses walnut wood, cedar, sissu and dalbergia for creating exquisite furniture and decorative items.
A performance area has been set up by the organisers where several musicians present Kashmiri folk music using dhol, flute and shehnai, while Gatka dancers perform the traditional Kashmiri dance, wearing colourful costumes.
Lok Virsa hosted a Kashmiri musical night featuring local folk songs on Sunday at the Open Air Theatre as part of the ten-day Lok Mela.
Secretary Sports, Youth and Culture Azad Jammu and Kashmir Raja Muhammad Abbas Khan was the chief guest on the occasion.
Kashmiri singers presented a number of folk songs and local dances during the ceremony. The stage was beautifully decorated with posters of scenery from Kashmir, its buildings and handicrafts,The ceremony started with a melodious instrumental performance by local musicians who played the famous Kashmiri song ‘Mere Wattan Teri Jannat Mein Ayen Gein’ which was followed by Akbar Khan playing two tunes on his Alghoza and flute. He also read out the lyrics of the song which he had played.A young folk singer, Shakil Mir presented Saiful Mulk in his local dialect and four singers wearing traditional dresses sang Mere Wattan Mere Chaman.
As per the old Kashmiri tradition, all the male guests were presented with turbans and the women with shawls.A song titled Sindh, Sarhad, Punjab, Balochistan Mein Rehta Hoon, was presented with the artistses wearing traditional clothes from across the country.
The ongoing Lok Mela (annual folk festival of Pakistan) is all set to mesmerise visitors with music nights featuring folk music of all the provinces and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The folk singers and performers from Punjab, Sindh, K-P, Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir will showcase their skills during the 10-day Lok Mela at the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, Lok Virsa.
The musical evenings are all set to attract big crowds at the festival which captures cultural glimpses of Pakistan through artistically designed cultural pavilions established by different provinces, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The aesthetically designed colourful pavilions depict the the folk culture, arts, crafts, traditional cuisine, folk music and folk entertainment of different regions that remain the centre of attraction for the visitors. It offers a wide range of colourful and dazzling crafts along with vibrant and energetic traditional folk music.
A number of eminent folk artistes, musicians and performers from all provinces will perform live in the concert and entertain the visitors with the loud beating of the dhol (drums) in their vibrant costumes, which is the characteristic of their tradition. Executive Director Lok Virsa, Shahira Shahid said this festival was for the people Pakistan and appreciation to the craftsmanship. The objective of the festival is to reinforce and strengthen national integration by promoting the cultural heritage of Pakistan through active participation of all provinces, Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Hundreds of master artisans, folk artistes, folk performers and folk dance groups from all over the country have participated in the festival bringing with them their skills and creativity.
She said, this unique started in the year 1983, has become a symbol of the federation’s recognition and patronage to the rich cultural diversity and active participation of the people of Pakistan, said the organizers.
The festival features artisans-at-work exhibition, provincial cultural pavilions, folkloric song and dance ensembles, rural musicians, general assembly of craftspeople, traditional cuisine, exotic craft bazaar, inaugural and award ceremonies and many other attractions. Another prominent feature of the (Lok Virsa) Mela is the Open Mic which has arranged auditions for new talent during the ongoing ten-day folk festival .Incharge Open Mic Dr Naheema speaking to the media explained that the audition helps promote those who are eager to sing but lack a proper platform to perform.
She said that Open Mic is a step to discover melodious voices. Dr Naheema said that all those who think they have the talent of singing can participate in the audition, adding that youngsters are very talented and Lok Virsa wants to facilitate them.
She added that Open Mic serves as an academy to growing base of young, amateur singers. Harnessing their talent and confidence, the Open Mic platform gives opportunity to its rising stars to perform on various other stages.
New talent is encouraged to showcase their skills to a jury and rehearse for actual performance, she added.She said that the jury will pick the most promising stars and gives them tips for their performances.
With additional output from APP
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2018.