10-day folk festival concludes at Lok Virsa


The 10-day folk festival of Pakistan, popularly known as Lok Mela, which started on April 6 successfully concluded amid a pleasant weather on Sunday, here at Shakaparian after providing a true cultural entertainment to the masses.
This mega event was conceptualized and organized by Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage), Ministry of National Heritage & Integration.
The festival aimed to revive endangered folk arts, crafts and music as well as to promote and safeguard traditional practitioners associated with Pakistan’s folk heritage. It served to disseminate the dynamic creativity of our countryside and gave rural folk a pride in their identity.
The main thrust of the 10-day festival was the focus on provincial harmony and national integration highlighting contribution of our people in building future Pakistan. Over 500 master artisans, folk artists, rural musicians and folk dancers from all over Pakistan including remote and far-flung regions participated in the festival, bringing with them their creativity in arts, crafts and innovation and won recognition of their talent at the national level.
Hundreds of thousands people from different walks of life attended the festival for 10 days in a big way which featured artisans-at-work exhibition, provincial cultural pavilions, folkloric song & dance performances, cultural evenings, craft bazaar, NGO stalls, folk theatre performances and special entertainment for children.
Full participation of all provinces, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir was seen in the festival by way of presenting their beautiful indigenous culture, arts, crafts, music and cuisine in specially designed pavilions symbolizing their respective historical monuments, contributing art, music and entertainment activities.
The inaugural ceremony of the festival was performed on 6 April 2012 by federal secretary, ministry of national heritage & integration Asaf Ghafoor with a dastarbandi/chadarposhi of an establishment master craftswoman from Sindh Mst Naseem Sultana in embroidery work.
The goodwill ambassador for women empowerment Ms Fiza Batool Gilani also visited the festival and encouraged craftspeople by granting special awards. Newly sworn in minister of state Ms Raheela Baloch also paid a visit to the festival accompanied by Senator Mrs. Rubina Khalid.
Award ceremony of the festival was held on Friday, 13 April wherein cash awards worth lakhs of rupees were given to the winning artisans on the judgment of a national jury. Ms Samina Khalid Ghurki, Federal Minister for National Heritage & Integration was the chief guest. Zumurud Khan, managing director, Pakistan Baitul Mal, who besides sponsoring awards, also announced to provide medical treatment to the artisans and folk artists as well as their families on behalf of Pakistan Baitul Mal. He also promised to make arrangements for marriages of the daughters of poor artisans.
A special cultural night with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) was held at Lok Virsa open air theatre which was featured by outstanding folk singers and musicians from KP including Zarsanga, Khan Tehsil, Ahmed Gul, Almas Khalil, Bukhtiar Khattak, Neelo, Rafi Bano and Saeed Rehman Shino Group. Mian Iftikhar Hussain, minister for information and culture, Government of KP was the chief guest on the occasion.
Exchanging his views with media, provincial minister said “Lok Virsa is doing a great service to the nation by promoting and projecting indigenous folk cultures of all provinces and regions at national and international level”. As far as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is concerned, we fully appreciate their role and assure them our support and would like to collaborate with them in future as well, he maintained. Earlier, on arrival, the minister was warmly received by executive director Lok Virsa Khalid Javaid and took him around various pavilions and stalls at the festival. He also witnessed exotic cultural performances by the folk dance groups attired in beautiful traditional costumes.
Talking to this scribe, Lok Virsa’s executive director Khalid Javaid lauded the role of media, in particular print media for making the festival a great success. He also took special mention of the patronage and support that he got from his own administrative ministry – national heritage – for organizing the event of such a high magnitude. “I am also grateful to the sponsoring agencies for grant of awards to the master artisans”.
He expressed the hope that in future, philanthropists and multi-national companies would also come forward and join hands with Lok Virsa for creating more avenues for these people and effectively protecting the cultural venues of the country. In this way, we will certainly be in a position to eradicate poverty among the rural folk and marginalized communities of our society, he maintained. The visitors who witnessed various events of the Lok Mela described it a great success. While commenting, Rashid Amin said “Lok Virsa created a mini Pakistan in the lush green surroundings of the Shakarparian hills that contributed a lot towards enhancing the beauty and landscape of the federal capital”.
Another visitor Samreen said “It was a true reflection of our magnificent cultural heritage which certainly served to express a louder message to the world that Pakistanis are creative and peaceful nation”.


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