Amid beating drums and festive spring air, the annual Lok Mela opened at Lok Virsa on Friday. The opening ceremony was held at the open-air amphitheatre where Lok Virsa Executive Director Dr Fouzia Saeed welcomed guests including diplomats and a delegation from Belarus.
The 10-day festival attracts folk musicians and artists from all parts of the country to showcase cultural diversity.
Saeed said that the festival is one of the most amazing things that the institute puts up. “Lok Virsa has done a commendable job of researching, documenting and activating our folklore traditions but my focus will be more on dissemination because just preserving is not enough – more than half of our population is young people, so unless we translate that research material into a more palatable and acceptable product or a language, we will not be able to transform the culture,” she said.
Folk artists from Shimshal in Gilgit-Baltistan performed the camel dance, depicting the travails of traders along the Silk Route in olden times.
They interacted by sharing their stories and experiences. With some performers clad in bright and shimmery cloaks and colourful turbans and others in plain white gowns and feathers in their woolen caps, they danced to the gentle trance-like music and beating drums. Moving with a make-belief camel, they depicted some of the traditional dance moves and encouraged some audience members to join in step.
Performers from Chitral presented folk songs in the native Khowar language while women garbed in their traditional neon frocks, head gear and jewellery swirled slowly to the repetitive chants from the Kailash Valley to present a delightful dance.
From the Manghar community, folk artists performed music and dance in the regional Marawari language. Akhtar Channah, famous folk artist from Balochistan performed the wildly popular “Danna pah aannah” as a dance troupe showcased a thematic dance.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2015.
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