ISLAMABAD  - The rich culture and traditions of Balochistan displayed at Lok Mela prove to be an opportunity for the visitors to value the arts and crafts of the province along with the display of cultural materials of other provinces.

The organisers have allocated spacious space to all the provinces for showcasing their indigenous folk culture in a creative and interactive manner.

The Balochi pavilion set up by the Balochistan Culture Department in collaboration with Lok Virsa catches the visitors’ eye with presentation of the richness of Balochi culture, arts, crafts, folk music, rituals, traditions, cuisine and folk entertainment.

The Balochistan pavilion is located at the centre of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa pavilions. When one enters into Balochi pavilion through the beautifully designed gates and arches showing typical Balochi culture and architecture, he feels himself in Balochistan.

The Balochi contingent includes 50 craftspeople, 20 folk artists & musicians and four folk dance groups each comprising 10 to 15 dancers/performers. Master artisans are Kaneez Fatima, Malukan Bibi, Aziz Fatima,Natasha, Hazar Naz, Umeeda Bibi, Husna Bibi, Sajida Khan, Saba, Marzia Khanum, Kubra, Rukhdia & Rukhsana Bibi in Balochi embroidery, Muhammad Iqbal & Manzoor Hussain in carpet weaving, Muhammad Siddique & Muhammad Akram in Khaddi (handloom) weaving, Miral, Dilshad, Tariq Mehmood & Abdul Khaliq in leather work, Malai in needle work, Muhammad Hassan in leather embroidery, Rozi Khan in Balochi chappal (shoe) making and others.

Among them, female craftswoman Kaneez Fatima is a 42-year-old artisan of Balochi embroidery. Being an educated artisan, she has carried on this centuries’ old tradition from her mother and devoted years of her life to this art. Kaneez stands out not only for her excellence but also in her tireless propagation of his ancient art by imparting it to the future generations. Some of her apprentices have reached high professional levels while practicing their art. She has been participating in Lok Mela for the last 15 years and had been awarded several times with cash and certificates.

Balochi dance group are Pushtoon Athan dance party, Leva (camel dance) party, Balochi Chaap party Noshi and Balochi Chaap party Kharan. They entertain the onlookers regularly with their distinctive attire and unique dance moves. Balochi artists and musicians performing at the pavilion include Amanullah, Hunoor Bux, Saal Muhammad, Behar Ali, Abdul Wahid, Ali Ahmad, Muhammad Saleh, Allah Dad, Saeed Ahmad, Gul Sher, Asghar Ali, Shahzada, Ashiq Hussain and Mashooq Hussain. A large number of music lovers, in particular from Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa attend thrilling performances of the Balochi folk singers daily and praise for their talent.

When we talk about Balochi traditional cuisine, we cannot ignore “Sajji” which is the speciality of this mountainous region. Residents of Rawalpindi-Islamabad are thronging to the Balochi food daily and some were listened appreciating its unique taste.

Talking to media, Lok Virsa’s executive director Khalid Javaid said “it is our utmost effort to promote and preserve indigenous folk culture of Balochistan province. We have already taken a number of steps in this respect including establishment of a Lok Virsa’s children folklore society in two schools of Sibbi with a view to inculcate awareness among youth about their cultural heritage. A proposal is also under active consideration to hold a folk festival in Quetta or any other city of Balochistan in near future, which will not only showcase Balochi culture but also cultures of the entire country”. ED Lok Virsa appreciated the role of Ministry of National Heritage & Integration as well as Norwegian Government for their generous support to his organization in playing its due role for this national service.

Commenting on the festival, a visitor Rashid Amin said “One can see here the glimpses from every corner of Pakistan created in the lush green surroundings of Shakarparian hills, contributing significantly to enhance the stature, beauty and landscape of the federal capital”. Another visitor Afsheen endorsing his viewpoint termed the event as a symbol of the federation’s recognition of and patronage to our rich cultural diversity and active participation of the people of Pakistan.