Islamabad - National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) on Saturday honoured artists, musicians and folk dancers, who participated in Lok Mela, with cash awards and mobile phones during the closing ceremony held here at Shakarparian.

Secretary Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Muhammad Azam was the chief guest on the occasion who lauded the services of Lok Virsa for holding such a huge festival that showcased the work of artisans from all around the country. “Traditional practitioners including folk artists and musicians are our great treasure; they act as our ambassadors while making their performances before foreign audiences. Lok Virsa commends appreciation for documenting, preserving and disseminating the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Pakistan in such a professional manner,” he said.

On this occasion, Lok Virsa’s Executive Director Dr Fouzia Saeed thanked all participants, sponsoring agencies and other stakeholders for their cooperation for making Lok Mela a great success.

While talking about the future plans she said, “Our prime focus in programming for the next year is Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan as concrete efforts need to be made in collaboration with respective provincial culture departments to promote and strengthen their indigenous folk culture.”

During closing ceremony, certificates were presented to the provincial coordinators in token of their participation in the Lok Mela.

Cash awards were presented to the folk artists and musicians from all over Pakistan. Folk singer and Rabab player from Kashmir Subhan Rathor and Brahvi/Balochi singer from Khuzadar Jhangi Khan received cash award of Rs 50,000 and Rs 10, 000, respectively. Other artists who received RS 5000 as cash prizes include Sain Ejaz from Ferozwala, Ustad Rehmatullah and Ustad Shamsuddin, Surnai players from Chitral and Gilgit Baltistan, Khadim Hussain, young Balochi folk singer from Dera Bugti, Badal from Umerkot, Gulia Ram, Ranti player and singer of old tales, Misri Jogi, Murli player, Bashir Lohar, Punjabi theatrical singing from Ciniot and Muhammad Sultan, the tradition of Dhol playing with Gata Ghora Dance from Multan.

Folk artists, folk musicians and folk dancers who received mobile phones sponsored by a mobile company included Bushra Sadiq and Muhammad Ramzan from Punjab, Faizi from Kalash, Prof. Inayatullah Faizi from Chitral, Akhtar Channal and Haji Shoukat from Balochistan, Krishan Lal Behel from Cholistan, Tufail Sanjrani from Sindh, Ajmal Khan from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Doulat Baig from Gilgit Baltistan,.

Cash awards of Rs 45,000, sponsored by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Culture Department were also distributed amongst the KP artisans. Cash prize of Rs 9,000 each were awarded to Abdullah in wood carving from Swat, Saeed in Charsadda Khaddar, Hidayatullah in Chitrali handicrafts, Shamsul Arifeen in Gemstones work and Prince Mahirullah in Peshawar handicrafts.

Sunday is the last day of the 10-day folk Mela which has attracted a large number of visitors from all around the country.