Ravians’ Literary Festival urges protection of Lahore’s heritage


LAHORE: Speakers at the Ravians’ Literary Festival on Saturday highlighted the dire need to protect “a dying soul” i.e. the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Lahore.

“We understand that change is inevitable, but it should not be done blindly at the cost of the city’s heritage,” said renowned architect Nayyar Ali Dada while addressing the opening session of the festival on “evolution of Lahore”.

The one-day festival comprising of five sessions was organised by the Old Ravians’ Union (ORU) at the Government College University (GCU) Lahore. It was also marked by a satirical and thought-provoking address by legendary writer Anwar Maqsood on the current social-political scenario in Pakistan.

Kamil Khan Mumtaz, a name of eminence in Pakistani architecture, Fakir Syed Aijazuddin, a noted writer and former principal Aitchison College and Hamid Mir, a renowned journalist and TV anchor, who himself is an old Ravian, also addressed the opening session moderated by historian Faisal Sajjad.

Aijazuddin said that cultural heritage was the soul of Lahore, and without this soul, it would no more be Lahore. Kamil Khan Mumtaz said that most of the genuine owners of old heritage buildings located in the walled city, had moved to the modern parts of Lahore, and now only the poor resided in these buildings and they didn’t have economic resources to maintain or conserve them.

Addressing the festival, GCU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah appreciated the ORU executive committee for holding a vibrant literacy festival to apprise the young generation of their language, literature, art and culture. He believed that writers, media and the civil society had a major responsibility towards raising awareness in the society about the importance of cultural heritage.

Dr Ghazala Irfan, a professor of Philosophy and the secretary general of the All Pakistan Music Conference chaired a session on “Classical Music in Pakistan” which was also addressed by Ustad Fateh Ali Khan’s son Rustam Fateh Ali Khan, noted singer Jawwad Ahmed and music master Tariq Suleman Khan Farhani.

The musicians said that unfortunately, even music had become a commodity in the market economy. “It doesn’t matter how good you are. You can’t become successful if you are not commercial,” said Jawwad Ahmed.

The session on future of theatre in Pakistan was addressed by veteran artists Irfan Khoosat and Sania Saeed. The panel stressed the need for eradicating the vulgarity from theatre, and reviving it on the pattern of literary drama which had been staged in institutions like the Government College Lahore since the 19th century. The session on the history of literature was addressed by eminent historian Prof Dr Tahir Kamran, playwright Dr Asghar Nadeem Syed and GCU Urdu Department Chairperson Dr Khalid Sanjrani.

Addressing the concluding session, legendary writer Anwar Maqsood said that bureaucracy was powerful enough to fail democracy. He requested the ORU to name the Literary Festival after great poet Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum who also served the Government College for a long period of time. ORU President Kazi Afaq Hossain also addressed the concluding session of the festival.