Gilgit-Baltistan: 10 Days Folk Festival Concludes

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Islamabad (News): The 10-day folk festival Lok Virsa, which started on April 12 concluded on Sunday with a prestigious award ceremony. The mega cultural event was organized by Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage) in collaboration with all the provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

People from different walks of life attended the festival for 10 days in a big way, which featured artisans-at-work exhibition, provincial cultural pavilions, folkloric song and dance performances, cultural evenings, craft bazaar, NGO stalls, theatre performances and special entertainment for children and families.

Federal Secretary Ministry of National Heritage Gul Muhammad Rind said the folk genius of the people is the basis of their identity.

“It is therefore the sacred duty of a nation to pay homage to the perpetuators and promoters of its cultural heritage.” Earlier in his speech, Lok Virsa’s Executive Director Khalid Javaid thanked all provincial governments, sponsoring agencies and other institutions for their unstinted cooperation to Lok Virsa for making this national event a great success. “I am also indebted to our own administrative ministry, in particular federal minister Shahzada Jamal Nazir and Secretary Gul Muhammad Rind for their all-time support and guidance for organizing the festival”.

Describing the mandate of Lok Virsa, chief executive Khalid Javaid said although Lok Virsa was primarily a research-oriented organisation, it organised folk festivals in order to project traditional cultural heritage, so that young people are not overwhelmed by the onslaught of Western culture and lose touch with their own traditions. At the end, cash awards sponsored by different national organizations and individuals were given to the most authentic craftsmen and craftswomen on the recommendation of a jury of experts constituted by Lok Virsa. Jury held detailed meetings over the last three days and minutely observed working of each participating artisan so as to arrive on a just and fair decision.

Craftsperson who is crippled as a result of work was also awarded at the event in addition to those who demonstrated excellence and standard setting of high quality in craftsmanship; creative and successful alliance of traditional skills and innovation in material design. There was also a category for young budding educated craftswomen.

Among the sponsors, Royal Norwegian Embassy took the lead by contributing cash awards worth Rs500,000 for the craftsmen/craftswomen and folk artists participated in the festival from all over Pakistan. Other sponsors include THAAP NGO, Azad Kashmir Small Industries, Balochistan Small Industries, Sindh Small Industries, Right to Play NGO, Directorate of Culture Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Arts Council.

In total, sixty five cash awards worth over Rs700,000 were distributed among the winning artisans. Artisans from Punjab got 23 awards whereas Sindh 14, Balochistan 6, Kyber Pakhtunkhwa 12, Gilgit-Baltistan 6 and Azad Jammu and Kashmir 4. Ten cash awards were also granted to the folk artists and singers by the organizers.

Exotic cultural and musical performances were also presented during the ceremony, which were highly enjoyed by the audience. A large number of art, craft and music lovers, cultural personalities, diplomats, media persons and general public attended the event.

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