Islamabad: Folk Festival of Pakistan, popularly known as Lok Mela organized by National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) honoured folk artists, musicians and folk dance groups with cash awards and mobile phones in a prestigious and colourful closing ceremony held here at Shakarparian. Secretary, Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Mr. Muhammad Azam was the chief guest on the occasion.

In his address, the Secretary congratulated Lok Virsa for the successful holding of this huge festival that brought rural masses from each corner of the country to the capital enriching its beauty and attraction. He said “Traditional practitioners including folk artists and musicians are our great treasure. They act as our ambassadors while making their performances before foreign audiences. Lok Virsa commends appreciation for documenting, preserving and disseminating the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Pakistan in such a professional manner.”

Earlier in her speech, Lok Virsa’s executive director Dr. Fouzia Saeed thanked all participants, sponsoring agencies and other stakeholders for their cooperation for making Lok Mela a great success.

Apprising about Lok Virsa’s future policies and programs, ED Lok Virsa said “our prime focus in programing for the next year is Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan as concerete efforts need to be made in collaboration with respective provincial culture departments to promote and strengthen their indigenous folk culture”.

During closing ceremony, certificates were presented to the provincial coordinators in token of their participation in the Lok Mela. Focal persons who received certificates included Umar Farooq from Balochistan, Saeed Ahmad from Punjab, Muhammad Ajmal from Khyber Pakhunkhwa, Habibullah from Sindh, Doulat Baig from Gilgit Baltistan, Liaqat Aziz from Azad Kashmir, Dr. Inayatullah Faizi from Chitral and Faizi Ensemble from Kalash.

Cash awards amounting to Rs.105,000/- were presented to the folk artists and musicians from all over Pakistan. Folk singer & Rabab player from Kashmir Subhan Rather and Brahvi/Balochi singer from Khuzadar Jhangi Khan received cash award of Rs. 50,000/- and Rs.10,000/- respectively, Sain Ejaz from Missan Kalar, Ferozwala, Ustad Rehmatullah & Ustad Shamsuddin, Surnai players from Chitral and Gilgit Baltistan, Khadim Hussain, young Balochi folk singer from Dera Bugti, Badal from Umerkot, Gulia Ram, who keeps alive tradition of Ranti playing and singing old tales, Misri Jogi, who keeps alive old tradition of Murli player, Bashir Lohar who keeps alive Punjabi theatrical singing from Ciniot and Muhammad Sultan, who keeps alive the tradition of Dhol playing with Gata Ghora Dance from Multan received cash prize of Rs. 5,000/- each.

Folk artists, folk musicians and folk dancers who received mobile phones sponsored by M/s M. Mobile included Bushra Sadiq and Muhammad Ramzan from Punjab, Faizi from Kalash, Prof. Inayatullah Faizi from Chitral, Akhtar Channal & Haji Shoukat from Balochistan, Krishan Lal Behel from Cholistan, Tufail Sanjrani from Sindh, Ajmal Khan from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Doulat Baig from Gilgit Baltistan,.

Cash awards of Rs. 45,000/- sponsored by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Culture Department were also granted to KPK artisans. The winners of the prize of Rs. 9,000/- each were Abdullah in wood carving from Swat, Saeed in Charsaddah Khaddar, Hydayatullah in Chitrali handicrafts, Shamsul Arifeen in Gemstones work and Prince Mahirullah in Peshawar handicrafts.

The 10-day festival pulled a big crowd throughout and featured artisans-at-work exhibition, provincial cultural pavilions, folkloric song & dance performances, cultural evenings, craft bazaar, NGO stalls, theatre performances and many other attractions.

All the four provinces and Azad Kashmir have fully participated 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.

Exotic cultural and musical performances were also presented during the ceremony, which were greatly enjoyed by the audience. A large number of art, craft & music lovers, cultural personalities, media persons and general public attended the event.

Sunday is the last day of the Lok Mela, which started on last Friday.

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