COLOURFUL AWARDS CEREMONY BRINGS LOK MELA TO A CLOSE
ISLAMABAD: A massive festival of folk culture with over 600 artisans and craftspeople from all four provinces and two administrative regions of the country came to a glamorous and colourful close Lok Virsa in Shakarparian on Sunday evening with an awards ceremony for the skilled folk artists.
Artisans and craftspeople had over the past eight days demonstrated an array of cultural skills from singing, cooking traditional cuisines and performing folk tunes to dancing and preparing traditional crafts from Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK), Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Punjab and Sindh in their respective pavilions.
The annual Lok Mela, organised by the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa), served as a reminder about these talented and diverse artists and that every nook and cranny of the country boasts a wealth of talent, be it in folk songs or in crafts. But these artists continue to be neglected and their skill looked down upon.
Punjab Minister for Information and Culture Fayyazul Hassan Chohan appreciated the effort to bring the rural masses from each corner of the country to the federal capital and enriching its beauty and attraction.
“The government is fully determined to strengthen national institutions. We are aware that no nation can afford to progress in industry, science and technology at the utter neglect and cost of its cultural awareness,” he said.
Federal Information Secretary Shafqat Jalil said that in his view, “culture is the path that leads to the provincial solidarity, religious harmony, love, peace and brotherhood among the nation.”
Earlier, Lok Virsa Executive Director Shahera Shahid thanked all the provincial governments and their cultural departments, art councils, craftspeople, folk artists, musicians and other institutions for their cooperation.
During the award ceremony, a number of cash awards were given to the ‘most authentic craftsmen and craftswomen’ on the recommendation of a Lok Virsa jury which comprised knowledgeable experts in the field of art and culture.
A source of entertainment
Apart from showcasing the culture from all the regions of the country, the eight day-day cultural fair provided a source of entertainment to citizens of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
A large number of people flocked to the fair to view cultures from different parts of Pakistan.
With the capital acting as a melting pot for all the different languages and traditions of the country, the festival easily won the hearts of people with the different languages, dances, foods and music from all the provinces.
While colourful traditional dresses, music and dance performances drew the attention of the crowds when they were on show, delicious foods with amazing smell proved to be the biggest draw for visitors — particularly the foodies.
Foods such as the Baloch Saji and Peshawar roast along with Murgh Muslim prepared on hot coals remained a great option for the people. Punjab’s traditional dishes such as mustard spinach (Sarson Ka Saag) and Makkai Ki Roti catered to the salivating taste buds of many.
In the Peshawar pavilion, most were on the lookout for the famous Chapli Kababs. Visitors were of the view that the Chapli Kabab along with Peshawar Kahva in the cold weather was a treat.
People also gravitated to fares from the valleys of Kashmir and the streets of Karachi on offer, particularly chicken biryani.
Stalls offering spicy chaats from Lahore also saw visitors throng it.
Many a curious visitor also lined up outside food stalls in the G-B pavilion.
Lok Mela 2018: G-B musicians enthrall audience
Some could also be seen asking the chefs for tips on replicating the taste in their own cooking.
While some visitors joined the performers in dancing to foot-tapping folk beats, visitors also learned a lot about the provinces they hailed from and about all the other regions of the country.
Many could also be seen purchasing traditional craft wares such as Balochi Shalwars, Sindh dresses, Kashmiri shawls and Peshawari sandals.
Lok mela 2018: Folk musicians perform for a jam-packed audience
Women thronged stalls sporting handicrafts, dresses, traditional jewellery and home decoration items with some stalls running out of space to stand.
Some visitors said that the fair should be held more frequently than its annual iteration.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2018.