The sun’s warmth, dressed in a cool winter breeze, set Hyderabad up for a memorable weekend as thousands of people took part in the Lahooti Melo, an annual festival of music, arts and culture.
Featuring musical performances, workshops, story telling sessions and lots of food, the event offered an unusual kind of excitement for a city that is otherwise quite mellow. Lahooti Melo has been in the running for about two years and it seems to be growing exponentially in size, strength and cultural significance.
What's so good about the Melo?
These are complicated times for music in Pakistan. Its indigenous music landscape, in the backdrop of heightened commercialism, has been in a state of flux for the past few years.
Enterprises like Coke Studio and Nescafe Basement have done much to create a demand for redefined, reproduced folk melodies. As a result, independent folk musicians and producers, against the might of multinational corporations, have been left with a diminishing role in carving out newer, more organic soundscapes.
The Lahooti Melo exists outside the corporate fabric of Pakistan's contemporary music industry. As a result, what was instantly refreshing about the event was the absence of corporate symbolism peppered all over the venue. The curation of artists too, seemed to have been done without their commercial viability in mind.
From where it all began, the Lahooti Melo, has come far.
Lahooti is the brain child of Saif Samejo, a musician himself, who plays in a folk-rock band called The Sketches.
The Lahooti Sessions re-produced works of local Sindhi musicians, showcasing Umerkot’s Mai Dhai, for the very first time. Mai later went on to play Coke Studio and has now become somewhat of a icon for Rajasthani folk music.
This year the event was held in the luscious gardens of Hyderabad Club. The ticket was worth Rs700 and a mid-sized police contingent placed outside the venue made sure there were no undesirable incidents.