In the grind of modern life, there is little space for appreciation of ethnic cultures and values. Paradoxically, this is why it is all the more important to cherish and preserve them for future generations.
Paying homage to the country’s heritage, a showcase of poetry, music and ensemble of moving visuals mesmerised the audience at Kuch Khaas on Wednesday evening. Commemorating the World Day for Cultural Diversity, the event attracted people from all walks of life including children from Nest orphanage in the capital.
Samar Minallah, filmmaker and social activist, screened a 10-minute documentary that celebrates different manifestations of the rich and diverse cultures of the country.
From life in Sindh, Cholistan, Multan and Swat, the moving visuals hit home the significance of valuing the multi-faceted cultures, that one usually takes for granted.
Faryal Gauhar, veteran actor and conservationist, who is shown in the documentary, says, “Without having an understanding of what we have created over centuries, we somehow stand to lose not only our sense of self but also the creativity that has given us the culture.”
She also talks about the economic potential that preservation of culture can bring to the land.
The architect Yasmin Lari and Prof. Muhammad Fateh Malik, who also feature in the documentary highlight the indispensable aspects of culture and engaging people to keep them alive. Snippets from the documentary also had craftsmen and folk singers sharing their personal experiences and carrying forth the legacy of their forefathers in tangible and intangible cultures.
“Appreciation of cultural diversity goes hand-in-hand with a just and equitable society. There is actually a very strong link between peace, development and culture. So cultural diversity can actually promote peace and development,” Minallah said, adding that cultural diversity is as important to mankind as biodiversity is to nature.
In keeping with the spirit of the occasion, orator Taimur Rehman read some poems. He started with Noon Meem Rashed’s “Zindagi se dartay ho,” progressing into Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s “Nisar mein teri galliyon pe aye watan” and “Hum dekhenge” to a more contemporary poem “Mein bhi kaafir, tu bhi kaafir” by Salman Haider.
“The poems talk about cultural diversity and tolerance, which we unfortunately lack,” said Rehman, whose tone was perhaps a bit too mellow to evoke the strong sentiment associated with the verses he delivered.
Classical music performances
The evening concluded with live, instrumental performances of tabla, flute and sitar by Muhammad Ajmal, Salman Adil and Shabeeh Sen. They played solo and then in sync, enlivening the mood with tunes such the famous Bhopali raag.
“In the midst of everything, it is reassuring to be reminded of our vibrant customs, traditions and values. While there is no escaping the turmoil we see in the news regularly, there is still so much to be protect and promote about ourselves and let’s not forget that,” said Nida Karim, an audience member.
The event was organised by Kuch Khas in collaboration with the Institute for Preservation of Art and Culture.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2014.