Hordes of music lovers were greeted by the soul shaking beat of a dhol and a swarm of colors, on the 11th and 12th November at the Karachi Arts Council. The event, the first ever Lok Mela in Karachi, was organized through a collaboration between Lok Virsa and I AM KARACHI (IAK).
Lok Virsa - National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage cannot be praised enough for its consistent and unfailing efforts to revive the traditional heritage and culture of our country. The Lok Mela, celebrated annually at Shakarparian, Islamabad, set its foot in Karachi and captured our souls. Meanwhile, IAK has been involved in the reclamation of Karachi’s public spaces for several years. At the heart of Lok Mela, were the performers in their vibrant and colorful traditional attires, the sounds of traditional music and the aromas of local cuisine.
Celebrating the country’s folk heritage, artisans from all provinces came to Karachi to display their fine craftsmanship, including pottery, wood work, embroidered purses, jewelry, vases etc. Some of them were visiting Karachi for the first time. Each province was provided with a separate space to exhibit their ethnic dances. Tickets for the second day were free so even greater numbers attended. Food stalls served dishes ranging from Sindhi Biryani and mouth- watering Chappli Kebabs, to more contemporary snacks like Shawarma, Paani Puri, and Chana Chaat.
The real highlight of the Mela was the ‘I AM KARACHI and Lok Virsa Musical Festival Show.’ It attracted a massive crowd, with people from all walks of life attending. The show began at 7:30 p.m. at the Z.A Bukhari open air auditorium of the Arts Council. It was inaugurated by Mr Sardar Ali Shah, Minister for Culture, Sindh. Mr. Jameel Yusuf opened the event for the public, followed by a short speech by the Executive Director of IAK. Mr. Amin Hashwani, President of IAK, gave the closing remarks. The host of the night, the lovely Fouzia Saeed, Executive Director of Lok Virsa kept the spirits of the crowd high. Renowned names such as the singer Tina Sani, and Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani graced the event. The Pashtuns of Karachi seemed to especially enjoy the event, dancing the night away with their traditional ‘Akkar’ dance.
The event started off with a traditional, heart touching Gilgit Baltistani melody and dance sequence, performed by singer Ghazi Akbar and Naushad Ali Hunzai. While the dancers showcased their beautiful culture through a traditional sequence, it was followed by a striking sword dance! Performed by Sarfaraz, this dance also belongs to the same region.
The atmosphere was pumped up and filled with excitement as the three grandsons of the legendary Punjabi folk singer, Tufail Niazi, took to the stage. Subhan, Muzamil and Ashir Niazi have been trained in singing by their father and uncle. Despite being very young, their energetic performance and skilled singing set the stage on fire!
This was followed by Rubi Reshma’s soulful rendition of Lambi Judai, which entranced the audience. Niece of the legendary singer Reshma, Rubi stole the limelight with her performances of Saasu Maangay Kookri, and Chori Chori. All of her songs were in honour of her aunt.
Another highlight of the show was the beautiful dance performance by the Kalashi group. With braided hair, and wearing gorgeous traditional ensembles, the six girls performed on a lovely composition. The soothing song, coupled with their slow, circular dance movements sent the audiences into a peaceful trance. After a long gap, this was the first time that anyone from Kalash has visited Karachi.
Soul-touching performances by Allan Fakir’s son, Faheem Allan Fakir, the traditional Balochi fire dance and the Sindhi cultural dhamaal, made the audience cheer ‘once more’ after every performance.
The Lok Virsa Music Festival marked the beginning of the six week long IAK Music Festival, which will include a Qawwali Night at Pur Sukoon Chowk, a Ghazal Night at the Karachi Press Club and Music Mania at Port Grand. The festivity galore at Lok Mela was a celebration of the rich cultural diversity of our country.
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