CultureGilgit - Baltistan

[Opinion] Nonmatching colors – “Basant” in Silk Route Festival?

by Noor

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI) seems to be hell bent on contaminating the Silk Route Festival, this time around. It aims to “add colour to the festival by holding a Basant event[during the Silk Route Fesitval]. Artists, singers and dancers [sic] invited from all over Pakistan to participate in the festival”, reads a report published by DAWN, refering to the three days long Silk Route Festival, planned for 12-14 August 2009. The event is scheduled to be held in Hunza (Gojal) and Gilgit.

 Basant is not a cultural festival pertaining to culture or traditions of people of the region. Our ancestors didn’t fly kites, wearing yellow Kameez, Pagri and Dhoti, doing Bhangra on the thaap of Dhol. Silk Route Festival being an event created with the aim of promoting culture of the indigenous communities living in the moutains, is not an appropriate space for spreading the Basant frenzy. Entry of the glamourised Bansant Dhamal is more than likely to overshadow what’s truly ours and what needs more promotion and patronization.

Learning from the ‘treatment’, unfortunate though, that Abrar ul Haq, the Bhangra Professor, received years ago while performing in the region, the LCCI shall abondon its cultural adventures in the mountainous Gilgit – Baltistan, by bringing “Thumkay walis and walas”. We have had too much of them on the TV channels, already. 

Another major purpose of the Silk Route Festival is to promote local arts, music, artists and culture. This purpose will not be served by the  ‘star studded’ glamour show, that LCCI seems to transform SRF into. Infact one reason for Abrarul-Haq mishap was the sense of neglect that local artists felt in his presence at the stage. Unfortunate, but true.

Another event, another time, we would love to listen to and watch artists from rest of the country. The brand that Silk Route Festival has evolved into will be killed by changing ingredients that have composed it since day one.  So, no to Basant Dhamal in Silk Route Festival. We can do it some other day, during some other event.

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  1. Nur, you very rightly put forward this case. Most of the people will say, so what? Let us give room to other cultures as well or it is good to have them celebrating this event with us or so on. But I think it is one of the “great games” of the smart big brothers to channel the allocated budget for the artists from GB to the lower land of our country. Our artists are just asked to come and perform without any incentives of with a nominal one, but Abrar and other so called STARs will be paid with a gold bucket… is not it true? Will they come and perform for free? No never. let us think about the artists from GB, let us promote and preserve the culture of GB…without contaminating it with Patang and Bangra…tomorrow Patang will bring many more ills to the area…. the government of Punjab has banned this practice by declaring it non-Islamic and safety risk… now what is the logic behind introducing it to our area….?

  2. Thinking out of the box, on a positive note, what impact would kite flying sport have on the local; say Gulmit culture, what new business avenues would open up, would it all be totally negative or some degree of positivity in it, if the kite flying is at all adopted in the village as a result of its inclusion in the proposed festival.
    Flying kite and chasing the falling ones in the windy Gulmit would definitely lead to injuries; God forbid – may be casualties; it would also be an additional economic burden on the poor families; kite flying after all is the game of elites. The question is would it be adopted by the younger generation straightaway?
    On balance, to me, it would have more negative impacts than any positive one. Further ideas should come forth and be shared by the thinking heads. Somebody has to play the daredevil’s role as well to highlight the potential issues involved.

  3. The Silk Route Festival is all about the Festival of Gilgit/Baltistan. It seems that somebodies are trying to hijack the opportunity by presenting other cultures which aren’t really on the Silk Route. They have many opportunities to present themselves when we of the Gilgit/Baltistan area usually miss out. We are ourselves a unique range of cultures and don’t need the Basant & Bangara Festival to be added into the Silk Route Festival. TDCP should be spending their promotional budget in their own area, not ours. We have always struggled to be given the opportunity – now let us have our time.

  4. i appreciate the prompt action. it should stop there and then to avoid misuse of the festival

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