KARACHI: For all those who have lost their precious lives and loved ones in violence that Karachi has long been engulfed in, Tehrik-e-Niswaan organised a theatrical and dance performance under the name, 'Celebrate Karachi' on Sunday.
Aptly titled as 'Kirchi Kirchi Karachi' (shattered Karachi), the Drama mustered quite a number of people who didn't seem to mind the cold weather as Sheema Kermani along with her students started her performance in the amphitheatre of Arts Council.
The Drama scripted and directed by Anwar Jafri, a veteran activist of the Tehrik, shed lights on how peaceful and enjoyable this city Karachi used to be. People from all walks of life lived freely here and shared happiness and sorrow alike.
The festivals were always celebrated with passion. "Eid, Naurooz, Holi, Muharram, Milaad, Deewali, how many festivals were there to find joys and meanings in," said the characters of the theatre. "We would just need an excuse, a chance, a day to celebrate and enjoy life through those events." But things changed, said another character, ruefully.
To let the viewers know about the root cause of the growing intolerance that feed violence in our society, the script was meticulously written awash with satire and sarcasm towards the extremist elements of the society.
Between the lines, the dialogues of the actors trod upon the dangerous issues, criticising Hudood Ordinance, Blasphemy Law, Declaring Ahmedis as 'infidels' and other steps State took in the past decades to impose a certain version or school of thought that waged a war against cultural diversity of this beautiful land.
The drama took another turn by highlighting the tireless efforts of Parveen Rahman, the slain Director Orangi Pilot Project, by depicting her inspiring story of helping the poor inhabitants of Orangi get rid of land grabbers and mafia. Although the situation is deplorable, the script goes, there are still people striving and struggling unabatedly for a better Karachi one of whom was Parveen, a pupil of Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan who faced discrimination too when he was charged with blasphemy cases several times.
"Pity the leaders of this country, for one of them put prohibition on alcohol despite being a drinker, and another tried feverishly to implement Islam here forgetting he had nothing to do with religion," said a character in the drama, recounting the days when the very first initiatives of turning the society upside down were taken. "The holy Friday was now an off day instead of Sunday so that everybody could attend the 'Jumma Prayers'."
What received much applause was the mentioning of Saudi Arab, as a character maintains 'what a spectacular Islamic society the country is, where there is no crime, bribery, theft', to which another character retorts, "What about Kings who have always ruled there, and it's the only country, which is named after a 'family'!"
In order to promote religious harmony, tolerance between different ethnicities and cultural diversity, two awe-inspiring dance performances were presented. First came the Sindhi Jhomar by Tehrik activists. Lastly, 'Hindu Sewa Group' gave the performance of 'Krishna Dance' that left the audience dumbfounded as they applauded their show.
Afterwards, Sheema Kermani called upon Arif Hasan; a renowned architect and a colleague of Parveen Rahman, Arts Council Karachi President M Ahmad Shah and veteran activist and health worker Dr Sher Shah.
Speaking to the audience, Arts Council president said, "There has been a surge in theatrical activities lately, but unfortunately they are way too commercialised unlike Tehrik-e-Niswaan that works on social issues and remains open for the masses. We will organise the Tehrik-e-Niswaan Festival in May 2014 to highlight the massive work the movement has produced so far."
As the event came to an end, the air was filled with voices of different languages, varying dialects of people as they chatted joyfully, wearing colourful regional clothes, proving that the event did succeed in uniting people hailing from various ethnical backgrounds who can live in their city, Karachi peacefully.
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