ISLAMABAD: Performers and artisans took a final bow at the concluding ceremony of Lok Mela (folk festival) here on Sunday. The 10-day festival showcased weavers, crafters, loomers and folk singers and dancers from diverse regions of the country.
Scores of locals flocked the festival for a final round of shopping. “Like every year, I bought Mukesh from the Bahawalpur stall but the quantity of the fabric seemed to have decreased this time around,” said Hira Siddiqui, a fashion designer.
The artisans-at-work exhibition remained the centre of attention, featuring over 20 craftspeople. The artisans exhibited traditional carpets from Balochistan, lungi, khes, farasi, loi and daree from Sindh, khaddar and carpet from Punjab, taghar, shawl and palisk from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), traditional carpets from Kashmir and patti weaving from Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
Shah Behram, a master of Taghar weaving (traditional woolen rug) from Dera Ismail Khan, managed to attract a large crowd. He was trained by his father who has received Presidential Pride of Performance Award.
Taghar is woven on a ground level handloom in bright shades of red, maroon, black, gray, white. Behram said it takes up to 64 hours to finish one piece, right from the spinning of the wool to the final knot.
At the concluding ceremony, Caretaker Federal Minister for National Harmony Shahzada Jamal Nazir awarded cash awards and trophies to the participants. He congratulated the organisers and the participants for making the festival a success. “The government is determined to strengthen the national institutions. We realise that no nation can afford to progress in industry, science and technology at the utter neglect and cost of its cultural awareness,” he said. In his address, Lok Virsa Executive Director Khalid Javaid thanked all provincial governments, sponsoring agencies and other institutions for their cooperation throughout the festival. In total, 65 cash awards worth over Rs700,000 were distributed among the winning artisans. Artisans from Punjab got 23 awards whereas Sindh 14, Balochistan 6, K-P 12, G-B 6 and Azad Jammu and Kashmir 4. As many as 10 cash awards were also distributed among the folk artists.
The stalls were brimming with visitors at Sindh pavilion on the concluding day of the festival.
Suleman, who deals in lacquer work, managed to sell more than half of his furniture items. However he seemed ambivalent about the business. “Starting out slow, the sales really picked up within three days. I’m grateful to the government for their support. But they need to do the same all year round and not just at one event,” he said. In Khairpur District thousands villagers are dependant on the sales of this craft but there is no facility from the government on grassroots level, he lamented.
Arbab Ali Soomro presented Ajrak from Matli District. He said locals were showing avid interest in the traditional cloth. He demanded from the government for the financial and technical support.
Mohammad Ali Soomro’s stall had Sindhi delights ranging from Shikarpuri pickles to Larkana dry fruit. Soomro said he sold 300kg dryfruit that he had brought in via coach from Larkana on daily basis.
Zahid Jatoi, a local visitor, said that he regularly visits the festival.
“The government should pay some financial incentives to the artisans so they sale there items in subsidy rates, because this event should be source of promotion of the culture not the source of income,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2013.
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