At the Kothari Parade, a huge crowd, circles a dancing woman. She wears a Sindhi dress, heavy jewelry and from her nose is a string of silver rings which goes up till her ears. At the beat of the drum she dances, and eats fire, which she holds on the two wooden sticks in her hands. The crowd applauds, and she drinks kerosene in a small bottle and eats more fire.
The closing day of the Faiz Centennial Celebration has arrived, and the limestone floor is alive with an extra ordinary display of Sindhi culture. There are handicraft sellers from Tharparkar and Hyderabad with Sindhi Ajraks, Topi, pottery and embroidered dresses.
This is not the first celebration of Faiz, where Sindhi culture has been appreciated. Throughout his life, the poet appreciated culture and stood up for free speech and labour empowerment, and the scene at Kothari Parade, lived up to his expectation.
Dancing around the area is also a Sindhi dancing troupe. They carry with them trumpets and drums, and the dancer dressed in a crisp white Kurta and Ajrak, balances an earthen pot over a five-foot long rod. The crowd follows it, some with their mobile phones out, trying to capture the scene, which they can later show off to their families.
A small boy in a pink Kurta is part of the troupe. He keeps his body stiff, turns out his feet in opposite directions like a penguin and moves his hand with the rhythm of the music.
He dances non-stop for a good one hour, and then, tired, comes back to his mother. “I learnt the art as I grew up from my older brothers,” little Adil says. His mother, Shazia, is a Sindhi folk singer, with a 17-year experience. She is here with her music band, and will sing Lal Shabaz’s verses till midnight. “I love the Sindhi culture which can be seen so much in Karachi for the last few days, I wish every day was like this”.
The instruments these musicians have are rare, each one of it is handmade, and the intricate patterns painted on them are evidence of the love which has been put in them.
Shuman Khan, plays an earthen pot which he calls a ‘matka’. There are peacocks painted on it. He explains that the sound from it comes because of the special clay which is used in making them. “We get them made from Thatta,” he boasts.
Ali Nawaz plays a banjo, which looks very much like an ancient guitar. He has played this for twenty years, and knows all notes by heart.
The ustad who teaches them all arrives, a middle aged man, with an air of self-worth which only someone who is proud of his skill can have. “Sindhi folk music has suffered because of the newer genres which are part of popular culture today. We are appreciated but only by the older generation,” he says matter-of-factly.
As the sun sets at Kothari Parade, and the little yellow celebratory lights add an ambiance to the area, the troop with a loud clear note, begins singing “Lal Meri Pat”. The voice echoes in the area, and for a second everything stops.
A woman dances outside the Karachi Press Club to celebrate Sindh Culture Day — The News photo