KARACHI: Almost six weeks after its announcement, the much-awaited cultural extravaganza – the Sindh Festival – finally began on Saturday at Mohenjodaro with a lavish opening ceremony
The cultural coup, masterminded by Pakistan People’s Party Patron-in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, is in the series of celebrations all over the province under the two-week-long Sindh Festival. With the historical stupa in the background, Bilawal Bhutto walked up the 80-feet-wide illuminated stage to officially open the festival.
Addressing a gathering, Bilawal said that the object of organising the festival was to initiate the process of protection and conservation necessary to safeguard Sindh’s unique and irreplaceable cultural heritage for generations to come. He said it was being organised “to preserve, promote and protect our heritage, such as Mohenjodaro, standing right behind us”.
“It’s older than the pyramids. It’s more advanced... it was more advanced ... than the pyramids. The pyramids were built by thousands of people as a tomb to one man. This was built for thousands of people to live in. It is the most advanced proto-democratic society.” He also appreciated the efforts of performers who made the night possible. “They had been working under extremely difficult circumstances, as you know this is a heritage site, so the facilities that they usually would have available to them have not been available to them. But they have still pulled off one of the best performances I have ever seen. This is the first time in the Pakistani history that we have managed to pull off a cultural event such as this, at such a historical and prominent site.” Just before formally launching the festival, Bilawal repeated the festival’s slogan “Apni saqafat pe naaz karo, Pakistan se pyar karo.” (Be proud of your culture, [and] love Pakistan). Apart from Bilawal, the official opening ceremony was graced by Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, PPP leader Faryal Talpur, former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Owais Muzaffar and Sharmeela Farooqi.
Earlier, a number of foreign visitors, some wearing traditional Sindhi ajrak, were also among the approximately 1,000 guests waiting for the grand gala to begin. Some of these had been specially flown to Mohenjodaro.
Performers also queued up to pass through security gates, with an equally large number of PPP top leaders also waiting for entry.
The audience marked the inauguration of the Sindh Festival by watching a display of fireworks that illuminated the skies. Besides that, there was a musical treat for everyone, as the ceremony featured performances by some of the renowned artists from all over the country. Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan also mesmerised the audience with his soothing voice. Renowned singers Ainee Khalid, Shaman Ali Mirali and Ali Gul Pir also gave performances at the inaugural ceremony.
The festival will also travel all over Sindh, including Karachi, Hyderabad, Jacobabad and Thatta.
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