ISLAMABAD: The Folk Festival of Pakistan “Lok Mela” which opened here at Shakarparian on last Friday is in full swing. The event is organized by National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa), a specialized institution working for the promotion and preservation of Pakistan’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

Provincial Cultural Pavilions remain one of the key attractions of this Mela. While visiting the Mela grounds one can see the colorful Sindh Pavilion -the land of Sufi Saints.

Sindh is one of the provinces in Pakistan located at the Southern border. The province of Sindh has been named after the famous River Indus. In Sanskrit, the province was dubbed Sindhu meaning an ocean.

Coordinated by Sindh Culture Department, a contingent of over one hundred participants including artisans in various craft fields, folk artists, rural musicians, instrumentalists and folk dancers is actively participating and showcasing their indigenous folk heritage.

The folk artists and musicians seen busy in performing include Shaukat Ali & Ahmad Ali folk singers, Arbab Khan Alghoza player, Misri Jogi Murli player, Zulfiqar Ahmad Borindo player, Rasul Bukhsh Brohi Dhambura player, Mir Muhammad Dholak player, Allah Dino Benjo player and others.

Folk dance groups are Sain Dad Matka Dancers, Niaz Ahmad & Party Shehnai Group, Vishnu Party Thari Dancers, Agha Group Fire Work Dance Party, Chandi Faqir & Son Chapri Dance Party , Khuda Bukhsh and Ajmal & Dance Party.

Sindh is famous for a wide range of folk crafts like lacquer art, farasi weaving, blue pottery, Sindhi embroidery, ajrak, block printing, traditional carpet weaving, rilli (appliqué work), tie-dye, khes weaving, wood works, thari embroidery and several others, which are all available in the ongoing Lok Mela.

Master artisans displaying their workmanship include Imdad Ali Wighio in block making, Ms. Halima in Durree weaving, Ms. Siani & Safia in Lungi/Khes weaving, Ms. Smeru in Farasi weaving, Ms. Zaheera in Rilli weaving, Khan Chand in leather shoes, Gino Mal, Deeplu & Zamir Ahmad in Thari handicrafts, Ms. Naseem Sultan in Sindhi embroidery, Naeemuddin in blue pottery, Qadir Bukhsh & Rafaqat Ali in Ajrak block making, Faqir Muhammad in clay work, Khadim Hussain in Moenjodaro replica making, Sulemain in lacquer work, Imtiaz Shah in Chunri work, Aslam Arabab in Sussi weaving and others.

Each year, “Lok Mela” opens with a “dastarbandi” or “chadarposhi” of an established artisan. This year, Imdad Ali Wighio who specializes in ‘block making’, a dying craft from Sindh was honoured in the Lok Mela 2015 Dastarbandi Ceremony took place on last Friday. He belongs to a remote village in Bhitshah, Taluka Hala, District Mitiari. He learnt the art of block making from his father at an early age and since then, he has given forty five years of his life to keep this centuries’ old traditional craft alive. He has been demonstrating his skills at the Lok Virsa’s annual artisans-at-work festival since 1981. He has trained a number of youth in his locality to ensure continuity of the tradition inherited from generation to generation.  Thus his contributions towards safeguarding the old age techniques of the craft are immense.

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