ISLAMABAD - The folk colours of Punjab have taken over the Federal Capital after the success of three provincial cultural festivals including the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and the Sindh. The festival, arranged by the Lok Virsa and the Department of Culture, Punjab Government, at the Lok Virsa. It reflects the rich culture, arts, crafts, folk music and cultural traditions of the most populous province of the country. Dharees dance group from Jhang, attired in beautiful coloured costumes, escorted the Federal Culture Minister Pir Aftab Hussain Shah Jillian to the venue from the main gate of the Lok Virsa when he arrived to visit the Mela here Friday evening. It was indeed a warm traditional welcome to the event. The Minister visited Punjab pavilion, artisans-at-work exhibition, promotional stalls displayed by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the craft bazaar. He was quite pleased to see the variety of crafts skilfully prepared by the crafts persons. In his informal talk to the media present on the occasion, the Culture Minister said that the culture enriches the lives of the people and it is the identity that differentiates Pakistanis from other nations. If nations forget their culture and traditions their life becomes artificial, he said and added, We must build confidence within ourselves to make our spirit alive. Punjab is a land of fertile plains, the Culture Minister said, and it has a very vibrant and distinct culture, traditional costumes and rituals connected to festivities, marriages, birth, funeral and harvesting. Todays cultural festival is truly reflective of all these beautiful aspects of Punjabs indigenous craft heritage, folklore and musical traditions, he noted. Zamurad Khan, Pakistan Baitul Maal Chairman, inaugurated the Punjab Lok Mela on Thursday night coupled with a cultural show. As the chief guest, he also performed Dastarbandi of Abdur Rashid Qureshi, an established master artisan in camel-bone-work from Multan. Speaking on the occasion, Zamurad Khan paid gratitude to the Lok Virsa for giving an excellent opportunity to the people of Punjab to display and present their magnificent culture, craft heritage and musical traditions through the festival. While appreciating the role and achievements of Lok Virsa, the Chairman PBM said, The institutions like Lok Virsa were asset of the nation for which we, all Pakistanis, should take pride. Chairman, Pakistan Baitul Maal (PBM) Zamurad Khan was accompanied by the other guests on stage including MPA from Punjab Shaukat Basra, Moinul Islam Bokhari, Federal Secretary Culture, Additional Secretary Culture SM Tahir and Khalid Javaid, Executive Director Lok Virsa. The opening ceremony was featured with the performance of the folk singers and performers including Laiba Ali, Kishan Lal Bheel from Cholistan, Wahid Bux alias, Junior Allan Faqir from Rahimyar Khan, and Zafar Lohar. The festival will continue till Sunday, 13 June 2010 daily from 11.00 a.m. to 11.00 p.m. at Lok Virsa Complex, Garden Avenue, Shakarparian, Islamabad.