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.