“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” (Ludwig Wittgenstein).
Languages are the best medium of expression and to express is the most beautiful face of the universe. A child starts picking up the words even before his birth and the first sentence he utters to seek the attention of his loved ones always remains very near to his heart. Mother languages are the true asserts of any community. Melina marchetta beautifully depicted “Because without our language, we have lost ourselves. Who are we without our words?”
Lok Virsa always take big steps to promote languages, cultures and art. A Two-day festival was organized on 18th and 19th February 2017 named as “Mother languages and literary festival” and the purpose was to promote the regional languages of Pakistan, to celebrate Pakistan’s linguistic and cultural diversity and to encourage reading in other languages. The festival was hosted by the Indus Cultural Forum, Lok Virsa and Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) with support from the Foundation Society Institute (Fosi), Sindh Government’s Department for Culture, Tourism and Heritage and the Society for Alternate Media and Research.
The festival was organized in connection with UNESCO’s International Mother Languages Day, which is observed on Feb 21 every year.
Over 150 writers, intellectuals, critics, poets and artists from across Pakistan who write in over 15 languages have participated in the festival to discuss the diversity of languages in Pakistan from a historical perspective and the challenges they are facing.
Various topics related to language, literature and culture, book launching, poetry recitals, musical events, screenings, performances, book stalls, food courts, cultural exhibitions and mobile libraries were the part of festival. Books in Sindhi, Balochi, Pashtu, Brahvi, Seriaki, Punjabi and other languages and their Urdu and English translations were also exhibited.
Lok Virsa Executive Director Fouzia Saeed said that “The festival is one of her organization’s signature events and provide a platform to the people to interact with writers from various languages. Our national heritage is in mother tongue. If we fail to protect the languages spoken in Pakistan, our heritage will evaporate along with the languages,”
She also said. “People should have knowledge about mother languages. A person can learn seven to eight languages easily. So many languages should be taught to people, and they should speak many languages.”
Fosi representative Nargis Sultana said “recognizing the importance of various languages is vital for empowering communities and reducing discrimination. The festival will help to establish connections between language policy and planning and better learning outcomes via indigenous languages”.
Important topics discussed in session at the festival were:
• Protection and promotion of ignored languages of Pakistan.
• Treatment and representation of women in mother languages and literature.
• Launching of new novels in mother languages.
• People’s history in mother languages.
• Role of mother language in promoting critical thinking.
• Launching of new poetry books in mother languages.
• Resistance literature.
• Market economy of languages in Pakistan.
• Short stories in mother languages.
• Multi-lingual mushaira of women poets.
• Languages and technology.
• Cinema in mother languages.
• Indus valley evolution of languages and culture.
• Impact of media on mother languages.
• Nazam in mother languages.
• Language policy and planning- south Asian experience.
• Selected readings from mother languages.
• Novel in mother languages.
• One message many voices.
The most liked session was the mushaira in mother languages in which all the female poets and the way they presented their thoughts was adorable. W.H Auden once said “A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language”. Regional poets proved that when love and feelings are expressed in the language you belongs to, the effect multiplies itself.
Along with this an international award winning documentary on the life of Sanam Marvi was shown for the first time in Pakistan. Sanam Marvi was present among us and her magical performance was really a source of comfort for the tensed souls. Audience enjoyed Dhamal, bhangra and regional dances. Lok virsa is a trend setter in discovering the hidden talent from under privileged areas. We are proud to be the only institution having the cultural representation of all provinces and areas of Pakistan.
Aristotle, the Greek philosopher writes “Man is a social animal. He who lives without society is either a beast or God”
Life is all about happiness and as human beings social interaction with our fellow beings not only brings happiness but help us grow our capacity to learn language, familiarize with cultures, enquire and think, play and work.
We are dependent on social heritage and as Professor Park says, “Man is not born human but to be made human”. Thus our social heritage that is a mixture of customs, traditions, morals, attitudes, festivals, folklore, beliefs and ideals not only make us who we are but bound us to pass it on from one generation to another.
Festivals have both social and economic angles. In the chaotic and stressful planet we inhibit where happiness is overshadowed by negativity and insecurities, the need was felt for something that could bring some positivity and celebrations. Thus the birth of festivals happened giving us opportunity to forget all our worries and celebrate the positive side of life even if for few days.
Festivals act like stress releaser and help us to balance our emotions. More positivity naturally lowers negativity. It also provide an opportunity to reduce friction bringing together and bind estranged friends and relatives in a bond of love.
Nothing brings people together like festivals. It plays a pivotal role in nation building bringing people from every religious economic and social background together. If we look at the fascinating journey of human evolution, we understand that human beings do not invent or create something unless it is required. There is no written history that when exactly festival celebrations started but in Ancient Greece and Rome, festivals were celebrated linked with religion, social organization and political processes.
Agriculture has significantly contributed to the tradition of festival celebration in addition to religions, folklore and traditions. It is such a vital resource that many festivals across the planet are associated with harvest time. Religious festivals like Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali, and Eid have gathered cultural significance too over the centuries. Events of historical significance, such as important military victories or other nation-building events generally called Victory Day also provide the impetus for a festival. An early example is the festival established by Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses III celebrating his victory over the Libyans.
Festivals contributing greatly to a sense of belonging for religious, social, or geographical groups, contributing to social cohesiveness. Festivals that focus on cultural or ethnic topics also seek to inform community members of their traditions; the involvement of elders sharing stories and experience provides a means for unity among families.
On the economic front Festivals provides stimulus to economic activities. It provides employment opportunities to people and reportedly Basant was banned back in 2005, around 150,000 people in Lahore and 180,000 people in Gujranwala and Kasur had lost their jobs due to the ban on kite flying. Recent ban on Valentine Day also deprived many from earning by selling flowers, gifts and balloons.
Festivals have historically been a great source of entertainment especially before the advent of mass-produced entertainment. Entertainment is important as it brings people together and is a good way for the entire family to bond. It diverts people’s attention from their demanding lives and amuses them in their leisure time.
In the backdrop of recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan, it becomes all the more important to revive and celebrate the many festivals that are either banned by the government or ignored by the society at large as being unsacred. Pakistan is home to dozens of having different festivals. To provide an enabling environment to them to celebrate their festivals would certainly bring all communities together, familiarizing with each other customs and traditions and thus helping in nation building in true sense.
It was heartening how members from civil society defied terrorists and celebrated the festival of Dhmal at the Mazaar of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. Launching and closing the two-day mother languages festival at Lok Virsa Islamabad with Dhmal by the delegates and participants was indeed a fitting response to the obscurantist mindset of the terrorists. One delegate rightly said ‘our response to the terrorists is Dhamal’.
Lok Virsa is the only institution of Pakistan that has been very active over the last couple of years in reviving and celebrating cultural and religious festivals. Lok virsa proudly owns and promotes all cultures under one roof. After successfully holding two-day long mother languages festival, this week we will be celebrating Basant with a variety of programs such as Basant song competition, food stalls, chunri stalls, dhol bhangra and kite making by master artisans. Next month Lok Virsa will be celebrating the festival of Nowroz presenting food, local dances, music and folk performances of Gilgit- Baltistan. We will also be celebrating festivals of Holi, Diwali, Christmas in addition to Rabab and Saroz festivals. Such festivals bring us together in a bond of love irrespective of color, creed, race and religion.
We believe that Life is a gift that needs to be celebrated and so are the festivals.
The writer is media adviser of Lok Virsa and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
When I joined Lok Virsa, about a year and a half ago, we only had employees from Punjab and Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa. Over the last year I have tried hard to search for young candidates to be inducted from other province. To get good candidates from Balochistan has been a challenge as it is difficult to get people to move to Islamabad on such low renumeration, However, I am happy to share that we now have six young professionals from Balochistan at Lok Virsa, providing thier services for various jobs.
Abdullah Baloch, the head of the Culture Department, Balochistan Government, visted us yesterday and was so happy when I introduced him to these young professionals. He said, “This was a dream for me. I had been associated with Lok virsa for over three decades and always wanted to see bright people from Balochistan here and now it has come true.” He thanked me for being true to my claim that Balochistan and GB were my priority. I am sharing a picture of Abdullah Baloch with young professionals from Balochistan who are providing thier services as internal auditor, PRO, store keeper of the museum, Media program executive, Electrical Engineer and ethnomusicologist.
I would also like to share that we have 5 young professionals from GB who are providing thier services to Lok Virsa as head of Media, head of accounts, cameraman and two in the Museum. This diversity is already changing the environment of the Institute and influencing, positively, the programs of lok virsa. I strongly beleive that for it to be a true ‘National’ Institute, it has to have the voices of all the provinces. We continue to work on achieving that balance!
Islamabad: The National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, popularly known as Lok Virsa, is planning to celebrate the forthcoming Independence Day in a befitting manner.
Talking to media, Dr Fauzia Saeed, Executive Director, and Lok Virsa informed that the special programs at Lok Virsa will start from 11th August and continue till 14th August 2016. Both the museums administered by Lok Virsa, the Heritage Museum at Garden Avenue and Pakistan Monument Museum at western part of Shakar Parian will remain the hub of these activities.
She apprised that a Youth Painting Contest with the theme “Independence Day of Pakistan” will be organized on 11th and 12th August 2016 between 11 am till 1 pm at the Pakistan Monument Museum.
Children participating in the on-going summer camp at Lok Virsa and students of Federal Directorate of Education will participate in the contest. Three best paintings will receive prizes from Lok Virsa. These paintings will also be displayed at the Pakistan Monument Museum on 14th August for public/visitors.
Lok Virsa Mandwa Film Club will screen the famous film “Jinnah” on 13th August at 6 pm at Lok Virsa Media Centre. An exhibition of Artisans-at-work featuring master craftspeople in various craft areas such as truck art, mirror work, doll making, block printing, lacquer art, will demonstrate their skills for public at Heritage Museum on 13th and 14th August from 10 am to 6 pm.
A special Independence Day cake cutting ceremony will take place at the Pakistan Monument Museum on 14th August at 3 pm. A live performance by newly established Lok Virsa Folk Dance Group is also scheduled on 14th August at 3.30 pm at Heritage Museum.
Lok Virsa will also screen popular mille naghmas on multimedia projectors on 14th August at both the museums. Lok Virsa premises will be decorated with colorful buntings.
Islamabad – National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage Lok Virsa is planning to establish a folk dance group for regular performances.
Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed told APP that the folk dance group would capitalize upon music classes, initially for tabla, flute and rubab.
She said that internationally Lok Virsa would establish a working relationship with Smithsonian in Washington DC, adding that Lok Virsa will revamp its Archives with the help of Smithsonian.
Dr Fouzia said that Lok Virsa is working on production of folk audio albums, video DVDs and discovery of new folk artists from across the country.
She said that documentation and new collection for the heritage museum would be further improved.
Published in The Nation newspaper on 05-Aug-2016