In December 2002, the date May 21 was declared World Day for Cultural Diversity. The hope was that this day would provide a platform through which intercultural diversity could be understood and celebrated. In the years past, the streets of Islamabad have been silent on this day and our cultural diversity have remained obscure. However, this year Kuch Khaas and IPAC (Institute for the Perseveration of Art and Culture) organized a special event to raise awareness and promote Pakistan’s inherent cultural diversity.
The event was held free of charge and before it commenced, the lawn of Kuch Khaas was packed with an audience ranging from all ages. The event began with a small documentary by the esteemed anthropologist and documentary filmmaker Samar Minallah, who has used her films as a vehicle to create social change, concentrating on women, children and traditional culture. Her lens journeys across the country from Cholistan to Punjab, Sindh and the North, serving as a visual reminder of the distinct local culture and geography. The ten-minute film included interviews with actors and folk singers, who carry the torch of our cultural heritage. She emphasized the need to appreciate the diverse cultural topography as it is integral to promoting peace and development in the future.
The second part of the event was a poetry recital led by rhetorician Taimur Rehman, an IT entrepreneur who has been actively involved in reviving the lost art form of storytelling and poetry. The poems he selected focused on current social themes such as injustice and intolerance that are prevalent in our society today. His recitation of the contemporary poem by Salman Haider’s “Mein Bhi Kaafir, Tu bhi Kaafir” (I am an infidel, you are infidel) left the audience chuckling yet somber at its meaning. He ended with Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s popular poem “Hum dekhengey” (We will see).
The next hour of the night was dedicated to the magical instrumental rhythm of local folk tunes. The concert featured legendary tabla player Muhammad Ajmal Khan, sitar player Shabih Sen from the seniya gharana and classical flute player Salman Adil. While the tabla accompanied both the sitar and bansuri, it was only during the last number that the three instruments were combined to create an enchanting spell. Their selection of music scores ranged from each part of the country including popular Baluchi and Pushtun tunes. The event ended with a standing ovation for the trio.
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