ISLAMABAD (D.Times): The annual folk festival of Pakistan, Lok Mela, being held at Shakarparian under the aegis of Lok Virsa has succeeded in presenting the true cultural identity of Gilgit-Baltistan on Saturday.
While visiting the festival grounds, one could see that a unique combination of cultural heritage of all federating units has been so impressively presented by the organisers in a highly professional way.
Although each important area, including remotest regions, were being represented there but after grant of autonomous status to Gilgit-Baltistan by the federal government, this is the second time that the region is participating in this national event with a contingent of about 20 people, including master artisans, folk artists and musicians.
Among craftsmen, Aman Wazir, is prominent one. He is a master artisan in the field of embroidery, who learnt the art from his parents at an early age. The most sophisticated and complex form of traditional embroidery in Pakistan is contribution of the rich culture of the northern part, especially Hunza valley. Aman Wazir has not only kept this art alive, but also transferred it to scores of boys and girls in the region. He has been participating in various festivals and exhibitions arranged by Lok Virsa from time to time. Other artisans at Gilgit-Baltistan pavilion, Deedar Ali in patti weaving (woven strip made from sheep wool) is also seen actively demonstrating his workmanship.
Folk artists and musicians from Gilgit-Baltistan participating in the festival, included Jabir Khan Jabir, Nida Hussain, Ikram Khan, Abdul Hameed, Salim Khan, Salam Habib, Naveed Ahmad, Asif, Muneer, Sher Khan and others.
Talking to this scribe, Lok Virsa Executive Director Khalid Javaid said, “This year festival’s special emphasis was on Gilgit-Baltistan because we wanted to create a big silk route pavilion with larger participation of all districts of Gilgit-Baltistan with an objective to present their indigenous folk culture, arts, crafts, music and traditional cuisine at the national level.”
Historically, Gilgit-Baltistan has been at the crossroads of various civilisations for centuries. It has a unique location and serves as a confluence for some of the world’s highest mountain ranges – the Pamirs, the Karakoram and the Hindukush. It has also been a place of cultural crosscurrents.
Living in historical oblivion and geographical isolation from the rest of the world, the people have clung to farming life, raising cattle, tending orchards and harvesting crops.
Gilgit-Baltistan is home to a number of diversified cultural entities, ethnic groups and various backgrounds. This multitude of culture is because of the strategic location of Gilgit. In view of the multi-cultural and multi-lingual aspects, people also have a beautiful mix of lifestyles and attitudes presenting a pluralistic society living together with peace and harmony for centuries.
The region harbours diverse and endangered mountain cultural traditions. Historically these areas have been aloof from the rest of the world and their life has been revolving around livestock and agriculture.
A variety of festivals held in Gilgit-Baltistan throughout the year present a unique feature of its cultural diversity and different forms of expressions. These festivals cover a number of important seasonal celebrations, cultural events and religious festivities and bring a value addition to the natural environs, rich diversity of people, culture, arts, crafts and heritage. Shina, Balti, Burushaski, Khuwar, Wakhi and Domaki are the major languages spoken in the region. The instruments commonly used in Gilgit-Baltistan are Dadang (drum), damal (percussion), Duff (a circular frame drum), Surnai or nay (a kind of flute), Ghijak (a spiked fiddle), Sitar, Rubab and Gagbi (flute) are popular and important instruments. staff report