Pakistan News

Basant Festival draws crowd to Lok Virsa

Basant Festival draws crowd to Lok Virsa

ISLAMABAD: The National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, Lok Virsa, organised a one-day Basant Festival on its premises on Sunday, the last day of the chunri and kite making training programme.

The six-day training programme in chunri (tie-dye) and kite making to mark Basant, was part of a series of programmes that Lok Virsa organised under the title of ‘Craft of the Month’. The series aims to promote traditional skills and teach children and the youth about the importance and utility of various crafts, as well as educate the youth on Pakistan’s diverse and pluralistic cultural tapestry.

The series also aims to encourage the youth to value the dignity of labour and foster ownership of their culture.

As many as 100 children and young people from various schools and colleges operating under the administrative control of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), Directorate of Special Education, Iqra University and other institutions participated in the programme.

The artisans who trained children in chunri making were Ameer Mia, Shamim Mai, Razia Bibi and Mohammad Farhan. The kite making instructors included Mohammad Qaiser, Mohammad Nasir and Abdul Basit.

All the artisans were from south Punjab, and possessed vast knowledge and experience with their professions. They were nominated for the training programme by the Cholistan Development Foundation in Bahawalpur.

The 60 year old chunri expert from Cholistan, Ameer Mai, said: “I learnt this art from my mother at the age of five. She was also an excellent chunri maker. In our community, ladies do this work with utmost dedication. I have trained around 25 girls, who have now enough knowledge to transfer this art to others. For me, it was a unique experience for me to teach chunri making techniques to children.”

Chunri is a traditional Pakistani art form that began around 5,000 years ago. It is also known as bandhani. The technique involved tying small circles with thread all over the fabric to create designs.

The fabric is the dyed and the ties are removed. The most popular material used for chunri making is cotton, because it is soft and easy to handle.

Kite making is believed to have originated in China, before coming to South Asia.

Preparations underway to celebrate Basant despite ban Despite the ban on kite flying, preparations have begun to celebrate Basant in Rawalpindi on the night between March 10 and 11.

Firing in the air, the use of chemical kite flying strings and parties are expected during the celebrations.

Illegal sales of kites and banned thread have been going on in various locales, particularly Tench Bhatta, People’s Colony, Adiala Road, Dhoke Syedan, Adra, Bakra Mandi, Lal Kurti, Sarafa Bazaar, Old Qila, Jamia Masjid Road and Committee Chowk.

City residents have expressed concerns over kite flying and the use of metallic strings which have been banned by the city administration, and many said such violations were a question mark on the performance of local officials.

The Rawalpindi city police officer (CPO) had previously declared that station house officers (SHO) will be held accountable for violations of the ban on kite flying in their respective areas. Police said they have set up observation posts in congested areas to monitor kite flying and firing in the air.

According to a Rawalpindi police spokesperson the officials deployed at these posts will be provided night vision goggles.

He said the police is also conducting raids – under directives from the CPO – and apprehending those violating rules while also recovering kites and string rolls. He claimed that the police have recovered over 100,000 kites and thousands of string rolls over the last two months.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2016

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