We all love a good yarn, especially when it’s spun with music, right? This is exactly what we got at the two-day festival to celebrate the richness and diversity of our folklore celebrated recently in Karachi. Organised by Interactive Resource Centre, a non-governmental organisation, with the support of the US Embassy in Pakistan, the event brought together artists and writers from all over Pakistan. Folk singers enthralled the audiences for two days with songs in regional languages, which most of the people did not even understand. But then one doesn’t have to understand words to appreciate the song and the music. The case in point was Bushra Sadiq’s rendition of Heer; the song was in Punjabi, but it was enjoyed by a pre-dominantly non-Punjabi audience.
Kudos to Dr Fouzia Saeed, former Executive Director of Lok Virsa, the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, for organising the event. According to Dr Fouzia Saeed, it’s very important for people of Pakistan to appreciate their rich cultural heritage, and events that bring artists, story-tellers and delegates from all ethnic communities revitalise and strengthen the folk traditions.
An interesting session ‘Storytelling through Displays’ was moderated by Dr Saeed. Dr Paul Taylor and Robert Ponssieion, two researchers from the National History Museum, Washington DC participated via Skype.
Brigadier Adnan Saleem spoke about the army museum which has a vast collection of original relics, books, journals and documents, photographs and audiovisual materials.
It was refreshing to see young people interested in a session ‘Storytelling through Mother Languages’ in which the chief attractions were writers Noorul Huda Shah and Niaz Nadeem. The performance of Bhural Lal and Punnal Fariq the sessiond ‘Storytelling through Music’ spellbound the audience completely. It was indeed a rare treat for the Karachiites. Samina Peerzada and Khawaja Najamul Hasan shared their insight with the audience in yet another interesting session ‘Storytelling through Films’.
Cultural Affair officer US embassy Mr. Stephen Valen when asked if language was a barrier in appreciating folk songs in other languages, remarked: “My associate here has been translating for me. She’s actually recorded it and she’s going to explain it to me in a little bit more detail so I fully understand and truly appreciate all the beauty of what’s going on.”
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy spoke about her journey, candidly sharing her memories about her father and career as a journalist. Keynote speaker and senator, the very down-to-earth Krishna Kumari spoke about her struggle, which was really inspiring. This amazing festival concluded with brilliant performances by - among others - Bushra Sadiq and Khumariyaan.