ISLAMABAD - The ongoing Pakistan Week celebrations are on full swing here at Lok Virsa complex, Garden Avenue, Shakaparian under the aegis of the Federal Ministry of National Heritage & Integration in collaboration with Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage).

Apart from other activities, a number of folk artists, rural performers, folk musicians and folk dance groups are also participating in the event and providing a healthy entertainment to the visitors. Folk dancers, attired in beautiful regional costumes are seen giving their exotic performances at the venue. They include Khattak dance party from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gatta Ghora dance party from Punjab, Sindhi Jhoomar dance party from Sindh as well as Leva dance party and Jangi Khan group from Balochistan. Most prominent among them is Leva (camel dance) entertains the onlookers regularly with their distinctive attire and unique dance moves. It is a Balochi dance of Sheedi origin, performed mostly by a group of people in a circle with hand movements. It always includes a Surna and Dhol.

When we talk about folk singers, one must not forget the energetic performances by the Punjabi artist Fazal Jat. He uses to entertain the audience with presentation of popular folk tales in a unique style with beating of drums which attracts the listeners to the singer.

Talking about folk music, Lok Virsa’s executive director Khalid Javaid said, “Pakistan is extremely rich in folk music. It includes folk songs, folk dances, folk tales, epics, folk romances, children’s songs, lullabies and children’s game songs. The children’s songs vary from region to region and from community to community within the same region and encompass many game songs. One finds here a remarkable continuity of traditions, some of which date back thousands of years to the ancient civilisations of Mehergarh, Moenjodaro, Harappa and Gandhara”.

He further added “the folk songs express the people’s inner and most powerful feelings and ideas, which the ear reveals to mind thus having an elevating, influence on human minds. It is not only the expression of art but also portrays the harmony of happy living and moral of entire village. It is like a shower bath of the souls that washes all that is impure.

Folk song has been prevalent since time immemorial. It has been passed on orally through generations by way of the traditional peasant singers, mystic and wandering gypsies. In Pakistan, people belonging to different classes, tribes, trades and occupations have their distinctive treasures of songs”.

Khalid Javaid maintained that the folk dances of Pakistan are generally associated with festive occasions or the seasons of harvesting and the coming of spring but there are some which are danced any time of the year. Some of them are danced purely by men and others only by women. There are few mixed dances in Pakistan. The popular folk dances include bhangra, luddi, gidda, leva, jhoomar, khattak dance, etc.

The folk music constitutes an integral part of cultural life of the people of Pakistan. It includes folk songs and folk dances. Folk songs speak for the popular emotions and sentiments which emanate direct from the core of the heart of the people. These songs differ in tone, tenor and accent of language from region to region but their central themes invariably resemble with each other. This is due to unbreakable cultural ties of the people as a whole.

The major features of the Pakistan Week celebrations include an exhibition of cultural heritage, art & craft bazaar, folkloric song and dance performances, representing all federating units, installation of 24 entrance gates on highways & busy roads, decoration and beautification of different chowks and roundabouts on various themes, stage plays, on-the-spot activities, special attractions for families & children and a prestigious closing/award ceremony scheduled to take place on the last day of the event.

A large number of people are attending the event daily, enjoying the programmes and praising for the professional competency of Lok Virsa management in holding events of such an important national magnitude.

Pakistan week celebrations will continue with all festivities and colours till January 07, 2013 and then culminate with a prestigious closing ceremony.