Folk artists and craftsmen from Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) who have actively participated in the ongoing Lok Mela enthralled visitors with their artwork and music on Thursday.
G-B has been at the crossroads of various civilizations for centuries, and is comprised of diversified cultural entities, ethnic groups and various social backgrounds. The region harbours diverse and endangered mountainous traditions, with people having a beautiful mix of lifestyles and attitudes, presenting a pluralistic society living together with peace and harmony for centuries.
The G-B pavilion consists of a contingent of 50 master craftsmen, folk artists, musicians and folk dancers. The contingent includes 16 craftsmen and craftswomen, including Sultana Iqbal, the most prominent master artisan displaying Hunza embroidery. Iqbal acquired the skill of cross-stitch embroidery from her mother at a very young age, and has displayed her talent at the festival on various occasions. The sophisticated and complex form of traditional embroidery of Hunza Valley contributes significantly to the rich culture of northern Pakistan, which has been kept alive by Iqbal. She has also transferred her skill and talent to hundreds of girls in the region, and received a medal for pride of performance from the president on Lok Virsa’s recommendation.
Other artisans displaying their works at G-B pavilion include Deedar Ali presenting rugs made from sheep wool and Nijahat Bibi displaying embroidery work.
A cultural night representing G-B culture and heritage was also held on Thursday where several artists and musicians including Jabir Khan Jabir, Sher Khan Nagri, Ghulam Bani, Jan Nisar, Fida Hussain, Manzoor, Hadi, Ikram, Pervez and Sher Baz showed their thrilling performances. The event was attended by a large number of people who enjoyed traditional music composed of local instruments including dadang (drum), damal (percussion), duff (a circular frame drum), surnai (flute), ghijak (fiddle), rubab and gabi (flute).
The festival started formally under the aegis of Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage) at Shakarparian on June 4, and continues to attract a large number of visitors. The visitors have welcomed the festival and appreciated Lok Virsa’s efforts for giving them an opportunity to enjoy the colourful and stunning performances of northern areas. Several other events have also been organised during the festival, which will conclude on June 12.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2011.