Ten days folk festival celebrates folk culture and art

Islamabad: The 10-day folk festival of Pakistan, popularly known as “Lok Mela” is in full swing here at Shakarparian. The Dispatch News Desk (DND) reported.

This mega annual cultural event, organized by Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage), was inaugurated by federal minister for Religious Affairs, National Harmony and National Heritage & Integration as the chief guest. Enthusiasts, who seem to have been exhausted from the hot summer days and of course electricity load-shedding  are thronging the festival ground to get a respite and enjoy the colourful ambiance  folk dances, rural music, and hoards of art and craft stalls. All provinces and regions – Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Giglit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir – have set up their pavilions presenting indigenous folk music, songs, dances and traditional cuisine peculiar to their respective areas at the aesthetically-designed colourful pavilions.

Many stalls have been allocated to female artisans, which show the participation of women in the economic process of the country. The female artisans include Tanzeela, Hameeda Bibi, Ishra Bibi, Gulzar Bibi, Naheed Bibi, Zainab Bibi, Jamila and Rabia Bibi in embroidery, Mst. Saira Parveen and Rashida Bibi in Phulkari and Farhat Bibi in lacquer art. Amongst them, the most prominent one is Farhat Bibi from Dera Ismail Khan. She is the master artisans of wood lacquer work. The word ‘lack’, ‘lac’, ‘leca’ or ‘laksha’ in different languages is significantly derived from the Persian word ‘lac’ or Hindi word ‘lakh’ meaning a hundred thousands. It indicates the multitudes of insects required to produce ‘lac’. Locally, it is called ‘jundri’ or ‘jandi ka kaam’, which forms an intrinsic part of three provinces of Pakistan, involves the process of applying layers of ‘lac’ in different colours on wood, while the material is rotated on a simple wooden lathe machine. Patterns are etched with the help of thick iron needle on the surface, exposing each colour according to the requirements of traditional patterns.

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A female visitor learning pottery shaping from a folk artist.
A female visitor learning pottery shaping from a folk artist.

Male artisans include Muhammad Waseem in lacquer work, Farhad Ali in embroidery, Muhammad Ilyas in wood work, Riaz Ahmed, in wax printing, Aurangzeb in stone carving, Fazle Wahid in weaving, Samiullah in wood carving, Kashif in Charsadda chapel (shoes) and others. Mohammad Ilyas is an artisan par excellence of wood carving. He carves intricate designs, figurines and scenery of unsurpassed quality with free hand – without tracing patterns on a piece of wood. He also procures wooden furniture liked by foreigners as well as local art lovers.

It would be difficult for the visitors to visit the KP pavilion and not taste ‘chappal kababs’ being prepared before their eyes. The aroma of the food becomes tempting and irresistible and you cannot help but settle down for a portion or two of this delicacy. The pavilion also offers other varieties of mouthwatering traditional food like ‘patta seekh’ and ‘lamb karahi’ all washed down with a cup of ‘qehwa’ (green tea) wit a hint of cardamom being brewed in ‘samavar’ at Nemat Khan Qehwa Khana. In close proximity, a ‘hujra’ has been created wherein musicians are presenting folk Pushto music “Tank Takor” whilst playing traditional musical instruments like ‘rabab’, table and harmonium.

Paper horses on display at Lok Virsa Festival 2013
Paper horses on display at Lok Virsa Festival 2013

Talking to this scribe, a female university student, Anisa Mir, said: “The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa pavilion at Lok Mela truly represents the cultural identity of the brave people of the province. It gives a clear message to the world that they are peace-loving people with an incredible heritage. Their hospitality is of course fantastic and matchless”. More than 500 artisans and artists from across the country are participating in the festival, bringing with them their creativity in arts, crafts and innovation.

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The festival will continue till Sunday, 21 April 2013 daily from 11.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. at Lok Virsa Complex, Garden Avenue, Shakarparian.

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