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Don’t sit calm because it’s time to play with colors, share happiness and to make memories. The exuberant festival of colors is all set to welcome spring. Hindus celebrate this fun-filled festival in the month of March with religious/spiritual prayers, colors, dance, and music. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair ruptured relationships. In Pakistan, Hindu community celebrates Holi with full excitement with other communities join in to experience this colorful festival.
Lok Virsa organized this beautiful festival with the Hindu community on Sunday, 12th April. People of all religions and ages gathered and smeared each other with the seven colors rainbow. Executive Director, Dr. Fouzia Saeed welcomed the chief guest Dr. Ramesh Kumar, member of the National Assembly and the festival began with Dhamal and traditional sweets were served to all guests.

Let the colors of Holi spread the message of peace and happiness


Executive Director LokVirsa, Dr. Fouzia Saeed is congratulating the organizers of this festival


Some dances and traditional sweets


Dr. Ramesh Kumar is enjoying Dhamal


Executive Director LokVirsa Dr. Fouzia is splashing colors to her friend


Rang Barsay Bheegay Chunar Wali…. Ladies are enjoying the riots of color


Don’t worry moms… Happiness of your kids is more important than stains


Dr. Bhisham Kotak is playing Djembe as Holi festival is incomplete without music


This colourful festival brings people together

Life is a journey but colors fill it with emotions, joy, love, happiness and much more. Lok Virsa’s message is that Holi is not the celebration of only Hindu community but of all Pakistanis irrespective of their creed, color and religions. We respect all religions and make sure that space is provided to all communities to celebrate their respective festivals.

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols.
With the evolution of mankind nature inspired man by uttering different sounds. Human being started thinking and the best thing to sooth the deprived souls was the creation of musical instruments.
William Christopher Handy beautifully summed music in a sentence that “Setting my mind on a musical instrument was like falling in love. All the world seemed bright and changed”

Rabab is a lute like musical instrument originated from central Afghanistan. Its name was derived from Arab language Rebab which means “played with a bow”. In central Asia the instrument is different in construction. Rabab is mainly used by Pashtun, Tajik, Turkish, Kashmiri, Baluch, Azerbaijani and Iranian Kurdish classical musicians.
Rabab is the national instrument of Afghanistan that is the reason its roots are very deeply penetrated in Pakistan too. KPK, Kashmir and Gilgit are the famous areas where Rabab is played and people are emotionally connected to the music it utters.
Rabab is made up of different components which are:
• Kassah which means bowl or shell
• Badanah (body)
• Safah (side)
• Dasteh (neck)
• Goshi (tuning peg)
• Sheitanak (nut)
• Seemgeer (strings below the corpus)
• Sar penjah (Taj or crown)
• Pust (Pelt or skin of goat)
• Kharak (bridge)
• Mezrab (plectrum)
• Mangassak (13 sympathetic strings of Rabab)
• Pardeh (fret)
• Strings (6 for melody and 15 for sympathetic)
In Pakistan the formation of Rabab in different areas is slightly different from each other. The formation of Taj is different in on the basis of which the instrument is categorized. Shahtoot and walnut wood is used in the formation of Rabab. Rabab is commonly used in classical and folk music. Now even in modern Pop music Rabab is used along with other instruments.
In Pakistan the affiliation of Rabab with people and artists is not new. In the meadows of KPK, at the rocks of Baluchistan and from the lavish green mountains of Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan the mesmerizing sound of Rabab goes right in to the heart of people.
Famous Rabab players in Pakistan are Ghulab Afridi, Waqar Attal, Shahid Malang, Amjad Malang, Bilal Khan, Adnan Haider and many more. Young generation is also showing eagerness to learn the tactics of Rabab.Lok Virsa is proudly contributing to spread the culture of Rabab. We have talented Rabab player Adnan Haider is also taking Rabab classes at Lok Virsa.

 

“I am not a man or a woman; I am a vehicle for passion…” (Queen of Sufi music Abida Parveen)

Folk music is a source to carry traditions, feelings and emotions of the people of a country. Pakistan is rich in cultures and languages and there is no dearth of melodious folk songs which were sung for different occasions. Folk music of Pakistan is slow, relaxing, based on sweet lyrics representing the image of the local people. Lok Virsa has been promoting folk singers and took a number of initiatives to promote rich regional folk music of different areas of Pakistan. Lok Virsa also dedicated its two halls to famous legendary folk singers “Zarsanga” a Pashto folk singer and a Sindhi folk music legend “Mai Bhagi” on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Lok Virsa also introduced a new emerging folk singer of Sindh named “Shamo” who sings as sweet as Mai Bhagi.
Dr. Fouzia Saeed,Executive Director of Lok Virsa, said at the inauguration ceremony of Zarsanga Hall on 17th February 2017 that “It is unfortunate that women are disappearing from folk music, but Lok Virsa is providing a platform that enables the mantle of folk music to be passed on to the new generation.”


Executive Director Lok Virsa, Dr. Fouzia Saeed with folk singer Zarsanga at the inauguration ceremony of Zarsanga hall.


Zarsanga Jan, the ‘Queen of Pashtun Folklore’ is that force in our folk heritage which has defied odds to conquer her erroneous homeland and win the hearts of many. Born in Zafar Mamakhel in Lakki Marwat, Zarsanga belonged to the nomadic tribe called Kutanree which travels between Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar. Being illiterate she was unable to sing ghazals and thus concentrate on gharhi and folk songs which are popular among Pakhtoons.

She had also won an international voice competition in Germany organized by Dr. Kabir Stori of Pakhtoon Social Democratic Party.


Zarsanga Jan is singing “Tappa” for the audience


“Lok Virsa feels proud today that we are celebrating a legend Zarsanga, and her services for the Pashto folk music but this is not the end of it and we will keep promoting and celebrating emerging folk singers.” Executive Director Lok Virsa said.


Zarsanga Jan “Queen of Pashtoon Folklore” was Happy and Thanked Lok Virsa for acknowledging her Services for Folk Music


On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017 Lok Virsa dedicated a hall to the legendary folk singer Mai Bhagi (Late) to honor her services for Sindhi folk music.The legendary Sindhi singer Mai Bhagi (Late) was born as Bhag Bhari, the only female singer from Thar who was recognized on national level in Pakistan. Her songs were recorded by radio and TV and later were released on cassettes. She began to sing Thari songs as a child. Mai Bhagi grew up in a small village surrounded by the vast and unforgiving Thar Desert. Mai Bhagi’s “Kharee neem kay neechey” is one of the most famous songs ever to emerge from the desert that became a national mainstream hit and turned Mai Bhagi into a Sindhi/Thari folk star.

“Lok Virsa will keep supporting folk singers, especially women in folk music and dance. We are proudly bringing new talent at Lok Virsa like “Shamo”, an emerging folk musician from Sindh.” Executive Director, Dr. Fouzia Saeed said at the inaugural ceremony of Mai Bhagi hall.


Executive Director Lok Virsa, Dr. Fouzia Saeed and Sindhi folk singer Shamo unveiling the plaque of the hall named after Mai Bhagi


The inauguration ceremony and concert were graced by Ramesh Kumar, Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, who shared his views on the rights of minorities as well as women singers and workers making their way up in the society and modern world. He also commended the talented voice of the young singer “Shamo” shadowing the legendary voice of Mai Bhagi. He also said that we should encourage and support Shamo to reach the heights of popularity while enhancing her voice as well as promoting folk music.


Ramesh Kumar is enjoying the concert of Shamo


Emerging folk musician Shamo, who is from Dewan Laal, Sanghar, in Sindh, was little confused and gave a beatific smile before she started her performance with Bhajan, and later on, she sang in eight different languages and surprised the audience with her tuneful voice. Everyone who has heard this magnificent projection of calmness often ends up an ecstatically.


Folk Artist Shamo is Playing Harmonium and Singing Bhajan

 


The Serene Voice of Shamo Forced the Audience to Dance


The concert received huge audience response congratulating Lok Virsa’s efforts in highlighting the importance of women in the society and bringing it to the world.


Craft of the month is the name of a process Lok Virsa organizes every month. The basic aim of this event is to keep the handicrafts of Pakistan alive. We encourage those people who left this work due to any reason. Lok Virsa started this program on December 2015, up till now 15 sessions have been organized. A great public response and appreciation and involvement was received regarding the session.


Woman Decorating a Ball with Beautiful Eye Catching Colors

The event continues for seven days every month. This is a very constructive learning process in which girls and boys from different schools and communities learn to make handicrafts throughout the week. Lok Virsa hires the talented trainers and we provide all the material and equipment to them. The involvement of people from different age groups shows that people still love the handicrafts and art.

Deputy Director Lok Virsa museum Mr. Anwaar ul Haq said that “Lok Virsa organizes this event to keep the handicrafts culture alive and to motivate those people who somehow disconnected from this profession. For the encouragement of participants we start with an opening ceremony every month”. He further added that the real credit of his idea execution goes to Dr. Fouzia saeed who accepted his proposal.


Executive Director Lok Virsa Dr. Fouzia Saeed Appreciating a Woman at “Crafts of the Month”

Executive director Lok Virsa Dr Fouzia Saeed said that Lok Virsa tried its level best to provide a platform for the handicrafts to keep them alive. Craft of the month is one part of our struggle. We are trying to highlight the real value of these crafts. We really want to see this profession flourishing. Lok virsa not only took this initial step of promoting handicrafts but we also formulated a market for them at country level. People from twin cities buy these handicrafts from Lok virsa and show their eagerness to meet and promote these craftsmen.

Every coming day brings new hurdles for the life of craftsmen. On one hand they are worried about their bread earning and on the other hand they have to put in extra efforts to introduce these things to the markets and traders. When they are not paid accordingly they feel compelled to switch their profession. These handicrafts are vanishing day by day due to unavailability and expensive material. Government do not own this profession as it deserves. The few crafts which are alive are only because of the love of craftsmen and the fact is that it is the only bread earning source for many people.

Jewelry Displayed at Lok Virsa Catching the Eyes of Visitors.

Different shops at Lok Virsa are promoting the handicrafts. The craftsmen related to these shops are also providing the training to the students.

Irfan Butt Kashmiri is an expert of “Meena Kaari”. He inherited this skill from his forefathers as Kashmir is enriched with the walnut wood and best artists are present there.
When Irfan was asked about the sale of Meena Kaari, He answered that “due to the expensive wood and hard work involved, the prices are high. People get dishearten when they come to know about the high prices. The Government of Pakistan and Kashmir should take steps to ensure the availability of wood at reasonable rates. This will help to promote the industry of Meena Kaari”.
Irfan is connected to this profession from last 15 years. He is expert in making jewelry boxes, tissue boxes, furniture and cupboards.

Irfan Butt Kashmiri Teaching the Skills of “Meena Kaari” to a Young Girl.

Sheikh Muhammad Yousaf is an expert of Kashmiri “Tappa Kaari” and “Kashida Kaari”. Lok Virsa hires him for the training programs. His whole family is affiliated with this Craft. He believes that despite of new machinery still the people love to buy the handmade Crafts.


Sheikh Muhammad Yousaf Conducting a Training Session at Lok Virsa

Another talented trainer Mukhtar Ahmed Dar teaches “Gabah” and “Namda” to the children. Currently he is the trainer of seven girls from Islmabad Model College. Students are happy and enjoying their work they want to continue it in future. Mukhtar Ahmed said that “It was tried to connect the Gabbah work with machinery but the results were not fruitful. No machine can beat the handmade craft”

Liaqat Hussain khokhar is associated with a very famous Pakistani culture of handmade jewelry. He not only owns a shop at Lok Virsa but also training the people to learn this craft. Liaqat has the same stance that” The high prices are barrier between buyer and seller but this craft needs a lot of hard work and people should try to understand it”. He told us that “When I started, this many people were associated with this activity, but with the passage of time they started ignoring this field due to lack of public interest. I think that the raw material must be available at low prices to promote this craft”.

Liaqat Hussain Telling the Specialty and Techniques of Hand Made Pazaib

Yasmin Kousar is doing the work of “Paper Mashi” since 2003. Decoration pieces are made by this art which are used in interior decoration. This craft is comparatively low priced but requires a lot of human effort. Yasmin Kousar is training 20 school girls in this program of Lok Virsa and the students are providing a good feedback.


Yasmin Kausar teaching the craft of “Paper Mashi” at “Crafts of the month”

The program “Craft of the Month” started one and half years back is now very popular among the public. The trainers, students and associated personals have a point of view that Government must support these crafts financially and by making training centers at different levels.

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