The three-day Spring Festival, organised by the Ministry of National Heritage and Integration in collaboration with the Lok Virsa, kicked off at Shakarparian here on Sunday.
Federal Minister for National Heritage and Integration Samina Khalid Ghurki inaugurated the festival.
The festival features exhibition of artisans-at-work and kite-making, exhibition of folk arts & crafts, kite-flying, folk performances, folk dances, traditional food stalls and several other attractions for families.
The artisans-at-work exhibition is being participated by over 50 craftspeople in various fields such as traditional kite-making, embroidery, woodwork, needlework, ‘khaddar’ weaving, traditional doll-making, wooden spoon-making, truck art, shawl weaving, wall hanging, gemstone and stone-carving. The artisans are not only demonstrating their skills at the beautifully-designed pavilions but also selling their products directly to the public without involvement of the middleman.
As regards folk artistes, musicians and folk dance groups, Gilgit-Baltistan has sent a contingent of seven, the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is contributing well-known Mehsud dance party, food stalls and eight artisans. A group of traditional drummers (dholis) led by Shaukat Dholi is representing Punjab. Sindh is represented by a group of master artisans. The Sindh government is also contributing folk artistes and musicians for a Cultural Evening scheduled for February 26 at the Lok Virsa open air theatre.
The major attraction of the festival remained kite-flying. Kite-flyers fully availed the opportunity provided by the Lok Virsa for their amusement. A large number of people, including boys and girls, were seen flying their kites in the air. The premises of Lok Virsa was fully decorated with colourful buntings, streamers and colours of spring. Everywhere in the festival, one could listen to the popular song ‘Bou Kata’.
In Pakistan, kite-flying is often known as ‘guddi-bazi’ or ‘patang-bazi’. Although kite flying is a popular ritual for the celebrations of spring festival known as ‘Jashn-e-Baharan’, kites are flown throughout the year. Kite fighting is a very popular all around Pakistan, but centred in urban centres across the country, especially Lahore. The kite fights are is at their maximum during the spring celebrations and the fighters enjoy competing with rivals in which one have to cut loose the string of the kite of the other, this is popularly called as ‘paecha’. During spring, kite-flying competitions are held across the country and the skies are coloured with kites. As people cut-loose an opponents kites, shouts of ‘boo-kata’ ring through the air. Reclaiming the kites, after they have been cut loose by running after them, is a popular ritual, especially among the youth.
A large number of people were witnessed selling kites at their shops in the festival. Asif, a visitor, said the festival is amazing, adding that a number of special dishes were also prepared for the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, the minister said, “The festival will not only document and preserve Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage at home but also serve to improve our soft image abroad.” The festival will continue till February 26.