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.

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Lok Virsa finalizes an agenda of strategic cultural programs

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

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Lok Virsa launches cultural DVDs, celebrating pluralism

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.

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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.

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