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Editorial

July 9, 2018

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Looking at tradition

Traditional arts and crafts as well as music, puppetry and other forms of arts can continue only if they are taken forward by the next generation. For this purpose, Lok Virsa at its complex in Islamabad has set up a month-long camp during which children aged between six and 14 years will be given lessons in pottery, folk music, puppetry, embroidery, story-telling and theatre by master artisans who have been called in from across Pakistan. The purpose is to inculcate appreciation for heritage and the expertise of potters, puppeteers and other artists and craftspersons possessing a high level of skill amongst the generation which has moved further and further away from these. A generation or two ago, performances by puppeteers was a routine practice even in larger cities. Today, few children are familiar with this art. The world of television screens, smartphones and other forms of electronic entertainment has taken over.

In this context, the Lok Virsa effort is an important one. In this age of globalisation it is also important to maintain specific identities and keep alive traditions that date back centuries. In our country these include the manufacture of instruments for folk music and an extremely wide range of other arts and crafts based on many different skills and abilities. The loss of contact between the present and the past is damaging both for the artisans who have lost their customers and audiences and for those who have been removed from the traditions of their ancestors. This also has an impact on other aspects of life. Countries around the world have been striving to build their heritage to the present age by trying to present it in a different way. This can certainly be achieved in our country if the right kind of effort is made. The Lok Virsa summer camp is a small step in this direction. Many others are needed and the process must be a continuous one. Schools and the media too need to play a role. But it is important to remind ourselves and our young from time to time of the wealth of traditions we have inherited and of the need to not allow it to be squandered as a result of negligence and the zeal to move towards what we term ‘modernisation’.

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