The annual cultural festival, called Lok Mela kicked off with colourful performances by folk artists showcasing dynamic rural life and culture at Shakarparian on Friday.
More than 500 artisans and artists are participating in the festival.
The main feature of the opening ceremony was “Dastarbandi” performed by the Minister for Information Pervaiz Rashid for Ameer Bukhsh, an established master craftsman in block printing from Kehror Pacca village of Lodhran District in the Punjab.
The 65-year-old Bukhsh learnt the secrets of natural dyes from his father at an early age. Besides training his family members in the art, he has imparted training to artisans in weaving, gabba and carpet making with the natural dyes.
A recipient of the Pride of Performance Award, Bukhsh has also been engaged in teaching about vegetable dyes at the product design section of the National College of Arts, Lahore, where he arranged a series of workshops for the students of textile designing.
Lok Virsa Executive Director Shahera Shahid in her welcome address gave an overview of the concept and objectives of the festival.
Speaking at the ceremony, the minister said that the festival has been organised to bring cultures and civilizations of all regions of the country under one roof.
He said that the artists, singers and artisans participating in the 10-day festival were representing the real cultural values of the country.”They express their feelings through colours, words, music and crafts”.
Folk artists from the four provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan performed at the opening ceremony.
The government is determined to protect and promote cultural activities as it serves as an important tool for creating soft image of the country.
“Artisans and folk artists are our asset. We all must encourage them to continue practising their skills and transfer them to future generations,” said the minister.
“Traditions and cultural values are the identity of any nation. The Lok Virsa is doing a great service to the nation by preserving our folk traditions. This is not only important but also essential and the need of the hour.”
The minister said that the Lok Mela was a true depiction of Pakistani culture and civilisation and served to disseminate the dynamism of our countryside.
Earlier, the minister inaugurated a painting exhibition by Lok Virsa artists depicting folk lifestyle and culture. The “Pakistan Legacy” show has been organised by the Directorate of Electronic Media and Publications at the Heritage Museum.
The festival, organised by National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, will continue till April 20 from 11am to 10pm.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2014.