‘Lahooti festival helps reclaim indigenous culture’

Published May 11, 2023
FOREIGN artist Sabrina Terence performs on stage on the concluding day of Lahooti Mela.—Photo by Umair Ali / White Star
FOREIGN artist Sabrina Terence performs on stage on the concluding day of Lahooti Mela.—Photo by Umair Ali / White Star

HYDERABAD: A galaxy of literati, scholars and folk artists joined the 10th year celebration of ‘Lahooti Melo 2023’ on the lawns of the local press clubs and highlighted the importance of the annual event.

The two-day festival ended here the other day.

Speakers told the audience that Lahooti Melo not only promoted diversity but also helped reclaim the true indigenous culture, Sindhi literature and folk and mystic music of decades-old legacy of this region. They shed light on how the festival has been a success story for people.

The festival’s inaugural session was marked by presence of eminent figures like writer Jami Chandio and journalist Wusatullah Khan, bes­ides DIG Pir Moha­mmad Shah, Thar’s celebrated folk singer Mai Dhaee, water expert Dr Hassan Abbas and others.

The session was moderated by Lahooti’s founder Saif Samejo.

Jami Chandio described Lahooti festival’s 10-year journey as a phenomenal success story which started at a time when country was hit by extremism. He said the festival helped mobilise youth and produced quality music while linking it with virtues and values. Lahooti created space for social analyses and enlightened discourse. He observed that Lahooti has given a ray of hope in this suffocating environment coupled with bad governance in the country. The festival has emerged as a unique opportunity blended with music and values, he observed.

Elderly Mai Dhaee presented her famous folksong and barely uttered a few words in her Dhatki language, wishing success to festival’s organisers and saying that all of them were humble souls.

Faqir Zulfikar performed on ‘dorindo’ an earthen musical object that is used like a flute.

Bhagat Bhoro Lal – who was also discovered by Lahooti in the last one decade attributed his popularity to Lahooti. “We used to perform at shrines and then came to Lahooti that shot us to prominence,” he acknowledged smilingly.

A musician from US, Mr Victorian said that his concept about Pakistan changed when he visited the country. He said he loved interaction here and found many things about Pakistan’s uni­que poetry, especially of this region. “We live to tell stories and it is an honour to be here,” he said.

The country head of a German organisation that supports Lah­ooti festival, Ms Birgit Lamm, said that she found diversity in this show and had fallen in love with. “There are colourful people in Lahooti; such events offer an oppo­rtunity to understand each other,” she said.

Eminent water expert Dr Hassan Abbas called for synchronising Pak­istan’s development model with culture of Indus river and give up all those things that are conflict with it. “We need to synchronise our development model with this groundwater. Our river is telling us something different whereas our incomplete development model is taking us to elsewhere,” he said.

Sindh Language Authority (SLA) chairman Dr Ishaq Samejo praised Lahooti for mainstream indigenous music and Indus civilisation. He said that this festival also promoted Sindhi language.

In memory of Ajmal Sawand

Moderator Saif Samejo did not miss the opportunity to remember the young scholar, Prof Dr Ajmal Sawand, murdered in cold blood in upper Sindh Kandhkot district in an old enmity between his community and the Sundrani clan.

Samejo opened a discussion at the session with Ajmal Sawand’s elder brother Dr Tariq Sawand, who narrating how his younger brother was killed by over half a dozen armed men when he was coming to Sukkur after visiting his community fellows in Kandhkot.

“He was a humble soul and sufi, and was among those four persons in Pakistan who got a doctorate degree in artificial intelligence. It pains whenever I share his story,” Dr Tariq said.

Senior journalist Wus­atullah Khan recalled Ajmal by reading his column on Sawand Usko marna hi tha amidst applause.

Ani Choying Drolma, a visiting Nepalese musician and rights activist, like Wusatulalh Khan, presented a sad song in Nepalese to express her sentiments on the murder of Sawand. She translated the song into English. As the poetry goes: ‘Tell me why did you needlessly take life — life which can’t be your’s’.

DIG Pir Mohammad Shah, who hails from upper Sindh, said. Unless state enforced its writ, things would remain unresolved, he added. “You can’t treat cancer with a disprins. And when justice is delayed people lost trust in system and they either take law into their hands or turn to jirga systems. So, we as a society not only have to condemn it, but resist it as well,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2023

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