ISLAMABAD, Aug 1 (APP): Lok Virsa has finalized an agenda of strategic cultural programmes for children, youth and all other ages to bring out the true pluralistic nature of our folk culture.
Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed told APP in an interview here on Monday, she said that the strategy developed for Lok Virsa was designed to cater more to the younger generation to develop their cultural identity.
She said that the Lok Virsa would focus more on dissemination rather than collection of cultural materials to promote pluralism and national integration, adding that in addition, “we wanted to re-establish connections with other countries,”.
He said that “We are capable to re-establish Lok Virsa as a vibrant hub of cultural activity,”.
Dr. Fouzia Saeed said that “Our programmes, Craft of the Month, teaching how to make various folk crafts, Children’s Literature Festival in collaboration with Oxford and Idara e Taleem o Aagahi and the language Summer Camp were super successful,”.
She said that for all ages our programme Mandwa film club, featuring Pakistani and international classic films was successful in generating interest and appreciation of old classics.
“To make Lok Virsa truly national we engaged with a full range of diverse ethnic communities and organized programmes with them to ensure all communities with different languages, cultures and religions are welcomed at Lok Virsa,” she said.
She said that Lok Virsa also organized number of programmes in collaboration with Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, adding that a competition of Rubab in KPK and that of Suroz in Balochistan.
Dr. Fouzia Saeed said that Lok Virsa produced a TV programme for the first time, adding that a half hour programme called the Folk Beats for PTV world aired every Sunday.
“We have taken out 14 DVDs which will be launched soon,” she said.
Executive Director Lok Virsa said that internationally Lok
Virsa have begun linkages that would establish a working relationship with Smithsonian in Washington DC.
She said that Lok Virsa would revamp its archives with the help of Smithsonian establish a folk dance group for regular performances and also for Embassies and Foreign office to capitalize upon Music classes, initially for Tabla, flute and Rubab Production of audio albums, video DVDs and discovery of new folk artists.
Islamabad—The National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) on Friday launched ten DVDs of its folk programmes depicting the diverse musical heritage of the country, celebrating Pluralism here at Heritage Museum Hall. Renowned Journalist Najam Sethi was the chief guest on the occasion. Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed, the folk singers featured in the DVDs and large number of people also present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Najam Sethi said that “I have an old association with Lok Virsa and it was my desire to come here.
He lauded Dr. Fouzia Saeed, saying that Lok Virsa was presenting deserted look during last ten years, but she initiated number cultural events.
He said that Lok Virsa is playing vital role in promoting culture and arts of the country. Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed said that Lok Virsa is one of the largest publishers of the traditional music and culture, Lok Virsa also edited, complied and produced a set of 36 cultural documentaries and over 500 audio cassette labels of nation’s cultural heritage.
Addressing the participants, she said that Audio and video cassettes, CDs, VCDs and DVDs produced by Lok Virsa are available in the market. “A professional video studio has been established by the center at Islamabad. The equipped mobile units of the center can reach any part of the country to capture an event,” she said.—APP
ISLAMABAD: As you pass by the Zero Point Interchange, you can spot a building nestled atop the Shakarparian Hills, in the shape of a flower in bloom.
The Pakistan Monument, due to its vantage point, not only provides a panoramic view of Islamabad, it is also a place one can visit to learn more about the history of Pakistan.
To the left of the monument, stands the Pakistan Monument Museum, which was established by the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage – Lok Virsa, in 2010, to pay tribute to the national heroes of the country, who sacrificed everything to realise the dream of Pakistan.
The museum contains displays of ancient civilisations, as well as the freedom struggle, creation and major achievements of Pakistan, which is exhibited in a three-dimensional, creative manner.
It is also equipped with a reference library, audio-visual archive and conference hall, along with an auditorium with a sixty-two seat capacity, known as the Panorama Hall.
At the entrance of the museum, the figures of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Fatima Jinnah are seated regally in a horse-carriage. On the right, one loses themselves in the past of the subcontinent. Exhibitions include the Gandhara civilisation, arrival of Islam with Muhammad bin Qasim, Muslim governance by Zaheeruddin Baber, Sher Shah Suri, Sultan Mehmood of Ghazni, Sufism, the creation of Pakistan and the ensuing mass migration.
“Our mandate has been to preserve, document and promote the cultural heritage of Pakistan”, said Lok Virsa Executive Director Dr Fouzia Saeed. “Currently, our emphasis is on the promotion of the folk heritage of Pakistan, in a way that is relevant to people of all ages and backgrounds, and to provide more meaning and depth in their lives. The promotion of folk heritage will also create more space for expressing diversity within our culture, as well as asserting cultural autonomy and dignity”.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2016.
ISLAMABAD: Eyes closed, minds free from worldly troubles, swaying their heads to the rhythm, people nourished their souls with sufi music at the performance of a sufi-rock band – The Sketches.
The band launched its second album, “‘Tu” (You), and performed some numbers from the new album at the Lok Virsa on Saturday night.
The album contains 13 songs, sung in Urdu, Sindhi, Saraiki, English, Hindi, Arabic and Marwari.
The inspiration of the songs is derived from shrine culture, which is why the album is sung in multiple languages, says Saif Samejo, the founder and lead vocalist of the band.
Foreign musicians such as Jono Manson, John Popper, Jason Crosby, Michael Handler, Peter Williams, Karina Wilson and Mark Clark have also collaborated with “the Sketches” in the album.
“Tu” is more of a sufi album, that benefits from the poetic masterpieces of Bulleh Shah, Ghulam Farid, Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast, and Bhagat Kabir, though it also has some ballads and soft rock.
Samejo, who seeks to initiate social activism through his music, and describes the work of the band as a poetic rebellion says, “Everybody should play their part in spreading positivity. As musicians, we play ours by raising our voices through music, especially for minorities, as we [as a nation] have done them no good”.
The band is praised for having brought music out from comfortable, air-conditioned rooms to the open skies of the desert, singing songs in the language of everyday people, in indigenous melodies, retaining their appeal. “We don’t do commercial music,” he says, “we only play what our hearts want”.
Senators Gianchand and Sassui Palijo who also attended the event, have been fans of the band since 2001.
“Saif’s music takes us to another world where the dogma of belief doesn’t exist,” said Sassui, while launching the album, adding that Sufi music was the greatest tool, with which to fight extremism and terrorism.
Upholding her assertion, the Lok Virsa Executive-Director, Dr Fouzia Saeed, said that there was a dire need for such creative expression to be developed in every household. The UN Resident Coordinator for Pakistan, Neil Buhne, said, “It was great to see the diverse nature of the north and south [of Pakistan] brought together.”
“This message of peace and tolerance is not new, it’s just a revival and a re-connecting of people with their roots, said Niaz Nadeem, the coordinator of Indus Cultural Forum (ICF), which organised the event.
Mai Dhai, who was discovered by the band and brought to mainstream media by the initiative of Lahooti Live Sessions, also features in the album. The platform, initiated by Samejo, has given voice to a multitude of indigenous artists and poets.
The band also performed “Jogi” (Ascetic) and “Mann Kunto Maula” (He of whoever I am the master, Ali is his master).
The lines from the last number “Ek Insaan” (A human) impressed upon the listeners, the duplicity prevalent at an individual level, translating to “I walk around pretending to be a holy man, while the vileness of my heart spills all around me, smearing even the clothes that I wear.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2016.
It was well over a year back when Dr Fauzia Saeed decided to put on the yoke to plough the Lok Virsa through dry, barren and even frosted fields forward. Most of us were sceptical about her abilities, intentions, motives and plans!
“She hardly knows what mess she is plunging into. It would be beyond her to cope with the challenges she is going to confront there. She has put on shoes which will not be comfortable to walk in,” I pondered.
“Well, she swam through troubled waters in the past. If she had survived with the ‘Sharks’, she will thrive here with the hawks as well,” I tried to convince myself.
Well, those who know this institution, ‘Lok Virsa’ or the National Institute for Folk and Cultural Heritage, must be aware what crests and troughs it has underwent since it was established back in 1974.
Before, it was part of the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA). Uxi Mufti convinced the then Minister for Culture, probably it was Hafeez Pirzada at that time, to carve this department from the PNCA and make it an independent entity, solely looking after the cultural and traditional heritage of the country.
At times I wonder why the name of Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan (ADBP) was ‘Urdoized’ and changed to ‘Zarai Taraqiyati Bank Limited’ (ZTBL) and Lok Virsa was ‘Englishcized’ to National Institute for Folk and Cultural Heritage?
My apologies! I am drifting away from the topic. The age factor you know!
Well, when she accepted the offer to take over as the Executive Director of the ‘Lok Virsa’, Dr Fauzia Saeed promised that she was going to turn the things in the prestigious institution around and would bring back the glory in which once Lok Virsa basked couple of decades ago.
She has set herself a tough task to achieve. Working for some organization is different and running an organization is entirely different ball game. Especially if one has occupied the top slot and being considered an ‘outsider’ by those around you. ,” said one.
But I would grudgingly admit that she has already made a difference. She has brought about a change. She has brought the colours back to the premises. We were provided opportunities to look as to what was the ‘cinema’ in Pakistan three or four decades ago and appreciate. Some extensive efforts are being made to revive the cinema in Pakistan now that it has been pulled out of the ventilator on which it had remained for such a long time.
Now we are getting frequent opportunities to listen to folk music, dances, drama, artisans working and bringing in their produces for sale, something which is encouraging them to keep some of the traditional arts and crafts, which were almost on the brink of extinction.
Last year when I had an opportunity to speak with her she promised that she would resume the work on efforts at documenting the rich cultural and traditional heritage of the country. I have not been to Lok Virsa lately but hope that she must had made the things stir up somewhere in the archive department of the entity as well!
I am sure her stay so far in Lok Virsa must not be an easy one, a smooth flight! She must have confronted some hostile hawks as well as a few expert hunters who would not have let go of an opportunity to dig their claws in her in mid air or shot her down!
Well, so far she seems to be doing fine and fending off whatever hostilities are coming her way. She may survive her tenure (this being a contractual assignment) and may also keep it moving in the right direction once she has almost put the institution back on the track.
But what would be the situation once she will leave? We have seen how the former Inspector-General, National Highways and Motorway Police (NH&MP), Zulfiqar Cheema revolutionised the force and how it is gradually started to slide back and we have also seen how the former Director-General Passports and Immigration, Sikander Sultan Raja transformed the Passport Office working all over the country and now that he has left, the department has once started experiencing operational hiccups!
So, here in our country, it is the individual who brings about a change! Once he or she leaves, the sunshine starts to fade away!
The ambassador of Uzbekistan has praised the historical cultural ties between Pakistan and the central Asian state.
The Ambassador of Uzbekistan Furkat Sidikov visited the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) here in Shakarparian, the other day.
“Uzbekistan attaches great importance to its historical cultural linkages with Pakistan. We are proud to have established our cultural corner at the Lok Virsa, which will be further strengthened in the near future,” the ambassador said.
‘Historical cultural linkages with Pakistan important’
He was briefed about the mandate and programmes of the institute by the Lok Virsa Executive-Director, Fouzia Saeed.
Furthermore, he was given a tour of the heritage museum, which depicts living cultural traditions and lifestyles of the people of Pakistan.
The Uzbek ambassador took keen interest in the various displays on show, in particular, the “Peshawari qehwa khana” and the “Hall of architecture” displaying 33 architectural crafts such as blue tiles, naqqashi (mirror work), marble inlay, wood carving, and tile mosaic work, which were a common feature during Mughal rule
Sidikov presented two framed photographs of Mughal emperor Zaheerud Din Muhammad Babur with relevant information on his life.
He also gifted an embroidered panel, the national cloth of Uzbekistan, called “Suzanna” to Saeed, for display at the Uzbek cultural corner of the museum.
While appreciating the gesture by the Uzbek embassy, the executive director said that the “Link passage with central Asia at the Lok Virsa showcases the cultures of all central Asian states including Uzbekistan and provides an illustration to the visitors about the cultural similarities that Pakistan shares with these countries.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2016.
Ambassador at Uzbekistan Embassy Furkat Sidikov has presented two large framed photographs of Mughal emperor Zaheer-ud-Din Muhammad Babur with information on his life and one embroidered panel called ‘Suzanna,’ the national cloth of Uzbekistan, for display at the ‘Uzbek Cultural Corner’ at Heritage Museum.
He presented these contributions to the Lok Virsa Executive Director Dr. Fouzia Saeed on his visit to the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa).
On arrival, he was warmly received by Dr. Fouzia Saeed, who briefed him about the mandate and programs of the Institute. He was given a round of visit to Heritage Museum which depicts living cultural traditions and lifestyles of the people of Pakistan covering all provinces, regions and remote areas.
The Uzbek ambassador took keen interest in the displays on ‘Peshawari Qehwa Khana’ and ‘Hall of Architecture’ presenting 33 architectural crafts like blue tiles, Naqqashi (mirror work), marble inlay, wood carving, tile mosaic work, etc. patronised by Mughal emperors during their period. He greatly commended the efforts of Lok Virsa in projecting the cultural heritage of Pakistan in such a beautiful manner.
Later, the ambassador presented Zaheer-ud-Din Muhammad Babur pictures and Suzanna to Lok Virsa executive director for display at the Uzbek Cultural Corner at Heritage Museum.
Talking to this scribe, the Uzbek ambassador said that Uzbekistan attaches a great importance to its historical cultural linkages with Pakistan. “We are proud to have established our cultural corner at Lok Virsa Heritage Museum, which will be further strengthened in the time to come”.
While appreciating the gesture of the Uzbek embassy, Lok Virsa executive director informed him that Link Passage with Central Asia at Lok Virsa showcases the cultures of all Central Asian States including Uzbekistan and provides an overview to the visitors about the cultural similarities that Pakistan shares with these countries.
I hope you had nice Eid holidays. Ramzan was a nice time for reflection on our last year’s program and preparation for the financial year starting 1st of July. We have a full agenda of strategic cultural programs for our children, youth and all other ages to bring out the true pluralistic nature of our folk culture. I would like to share briefly what we were able to accomplish in the last year and highlights of what we plan to bring, with your help, in the coming year.
REFLECTIONS ON THE PAST YEAR
The strategy I developed for Lok Virsa was designed to 1) cater more to the younger generation to develop their cultural identity, 2) spread out of the Rwp/Isb area to ensure LV is a national institute, 3) focus more on dissemination rather than collection of cultural materials and 4) to promote pluralism and national integration. In addition, we wanted to re-establish connections with other countries.
I think we were able to re-establish Lok Virsa as a vibrant hub of cultural activity. We were able to systematically attract thousands of children with the help of Federal Board of Education and other partners. Our programs, Craft of the Month, teaching how to make various folk crafts, Children’s Literature Festival in collaboration with Oxford and Idara e Taleem o Aagahi and the language Summer Camp were super successful. For youth, we had tributes to great cultural figures like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Habib Jalib, Aslam Azhar and Amjad Sabri, as well as competitions for Rubab and Saroz playing.
For all ages our program Mandwa, featuring Pakistani and international classic films was successful in generating interest and appreciation of old classics.
To make Lok Virsa truly national we engaged with a full range of diverse ethnic communities and organized programs with them to ensure all communities with different languages, cultures and religions are welcomed at Lok Virsa. We also partnered with the Govt of KP and Balochistan and did elaborate programs with them in those provinces. A competition of Rubab in KP and that of Suroz in Balochistan. Our spread and dissemination was also ensured by going livestream and actually touching people internationally. We live streamed our Mela through our website and since then have been live streaming all our major programs. Lok Virsa produced a TV program for the first time. A half hour program called the Folk Beats for PTV world aired every Sunday. We also became active on social media with a new website and a Facebook page which has increased our spread and engagement with the public. Another way of increasing our spread and ensuring we focus on dissemination is to be producing video DVDs and audio albums and making them accessible to public. We have taken out 14 DVDs which will be launched soon.
Lok Virsa has promoted pluralism and diversity by building sound relationships with all kinds of communities of Pakistan and highlighting their festivals and cultures. We celebrated, Eid with an Eid Mela (2015), Christmas, Nauruz and Holi. We had many ethnic based cultural events like with Hazara community, Gojal community, Afghan community, Sindhi community and many more. The two language and literature Festivals in collaboration with Oxford and Indus cultural forum focused on diversity of language and its significant to retain our culture. These will become annual events to be held at Lok Virsa now. Our Mela also remains a highlight to promote our cultural diversity and with the excellent role media played to accentuate our efforts, we were able to make a mark.
Internationally we have begun our linkages and home that we would establish a working relationship with Smithsonian in Washington DC.
LOK VIRSA also had internal targets in three areas to strengthen the institute itself. The following was achieved in this regard.
– An empowered Board of Governors was established in June 2015, after a gap of two and a half years.
– Lok Virsa Rules were made and passed by the BOG after a gap of 13 years. When the institute was reconstituted in 2002 the new rules were never made.
– The accounts were cleaned up and computerized (a very big challenge, took a whole year and still have pending liabilities)
– Pension Issue almost resolved (mega problems in this area when I came, will take more time to clean up the mess developed over the years)
– Other systems being developed
b) Staff capacity issues
– Some capacity building exercises were done, computer courses, cultural lectures, but this area is a very big challenge
– New people on contract were hired and soon we will be hiring and re building teams.
NEW PROGRAMS IN THE UPCOMING YEAR
We plan to continue our new strategy as it was developed for three years. We continue the following programs:
-Craft of the Month for children and Summer Camp
-Mandwa Film Club – this year we hope to feature Zeba Begum, Nadeem and Saima as our celebrities
Starting with an annual celebration of Mandwa’s success by the members on the 23rd of July with a special feature of film kasoti (quiz show)
-Tributes will continue: this year starting with Ahmad Faraz, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Javed Salamat Bakhshi and then Reshman
– this year we plan to take the Mela out. We will have one in Islamabad in April but will also try to do 2 small ones in Swat and Karachi.
– TV shows will continue
– we will do provincial work with Sindh or Punjab Government, while our collaborations with KP and Balochistan will continue.
Will revamp Lok Virsa Archives with the help of Smithsonian
Establish a folk dance group for regular performances and also for Embassies and Foreign office to capitalize upon
Music classes, initially for Tabla, flute and Rubab
Production of audio albums, video DVDs and discovery of new folk artists.
Improvement in documentation and new collection for the museum.
WE ARE OPEN TO YOUR SUGGESTIONS, IDEAS AND COMMENTS, AS IT IS ONLY WITH YOUR COOPERATION AND HELP THAT LOK VIRSA CAN SUCCEED. IT IS YOUR INSTITUTION, WE ONLY RUN IT FOR YOU.
Dr. Fouzia Saeed
Executive Director, Lok Virsa
ISLAMABAD: Laal Band and the Bakhshi Brothers put on a performance in tribute to sufi singer and qawwal Amjad Sabri on Thursday at the Lok Virsa.
The audience sang along with the performers and vowed to promote the music of love, peace and tolerance associated with the late singer.
Lok Virsa Executive Director Fouzia Saeed also paid tribute to Amjad Sabri, saying: “He was an icon and promoted and expanded teh shrinking progressive and creative space. To gun him down is an attempt to eliminate that space, which we are here to help save.”
She said teh younger generation will carry the slain singer’s message and that Lok Virsa will continue to “preach music, peace and love”.
Author and anchor Hammad Masood, who was also attending the show, said: “Mr Sabri was killed only because he spread happiness. There used to be a time when music was considered haram and musicians sinners. But that time is no more and we are not in minority; we are the majority. We will keep on preaching harmony and brotherhood.”
The Sabri brothers had introduced qawwali abroad, he said.
Also attending was singer Arieb Azhar who said: “Sabri’s music was about brotherhood and integrity and it is our duty now to promote this message.”
Taimoor Rahman of the Laal band vowed to keep Sabri’s music alive and to promote it.
“The best way to pay tribute to Sabri is to listen to his music and promote it,” he said.
The audience then sang along to a message he sang which said: “You do your worst, we will do our best. We will see what happens.”
The National Institute of Folk and Traditional Art, Lok Virsa on Thursday paid rich tribute to legendary qawwal Amjad Sabri in a reference held at the Lok Virsa Media Centre.
The famous Laal Band from Lahore and Bakhshi brothers presented a qawwali to pay tribute to Amjad Sabri.
Executive Director Dr Fouzia Saeed and a large number of people from different walks of life attended the function.
The participants strongly condemned the killing of Amjad Sabri and said that the culprits involved in this heinous incident were the enemies of peace and humanity.
They expressed their heartfelt grief and sorrow over the tragic incident and paid rich tribute to the services of Amjad Sabri in qawwali.
They prayed for his forgiveness and eternal peace and also prayed for his bereaved family.
Amjad Sabri was born on December 23, 1976 to a household which was famous for qawwali, the traditional form of music associated with devotion to holy personalities in Islam.
His father was Ghulam Fareed Sabri and he is the nephew of Maqbool Sabri. Together, Maqbool and Ghulam Fareed formed the duo of Sabri brothers, who went on to garner national and international acclaim.
Amjad Sabri presented the work of his father and uncle in a new light, which helped the younger generation connect to qawwali, something which had not happened earlier.
‘Tajdar-E-Haram’, ‘Mera Koyi Nahi Teray Siwa’ and ‘Bhar Do Jholi’ were some of the works of the renowned Sabri family which were sung in a more different and unique way by Amjad Sabri.
His death is indeed a great loss not just for Pakistan’s Music industry, but also for the fans of qawwali around the world. He is one of the finest qawwal and was globally known for his talent.