The second Sindh Literature Festival (SLF) started on Friday at a local hotel in Karachi as a folk orchestra played traditional Sindhi tunes while the ribbon was cut by some prominent guests to formally inaugurate the event.
Sindh Culture Minister Syed Sardar Shah who joined the presidium to address the inaugural session, said such festivals were extremely important in the present geopolitical scenario as culture was an effective tool to combat militancy and extremism.
“Such events are highly needed to save our culture,” said the minister. "We have a centuries-old tradition of literary and cultural festivals at the anniversaries of our Sufi saints. These festivals are reformed incarnation of the same ritual.”
He said who would organise such events if not the government and intelligentsia. “Will the banned militant groups hold these events?” he wondered, saying all acts that save the society’s pluralism and tolerance were on the government’s list of priorities.
The minister said he had been criticised for being a "melai" (culture-loving) minister, “but,” he added, “I love to be called this, because it is [better] to be a melai than an extremist.”
He said the recent cultural show in London was a success despite all sorts of criticism at home.
"We are going to organise a national conference on Makli, which is among the world heritage sites, in January," he added.
Changing Karachi’s name
Mr Shah put forth a proposal to change Karachi’s name to its historical original name of Kalachi as names of many cities in India, including Mumbai, had been changed.
“Should we not get a resolution passed to change Karachi’s name to the one it was historically called?”
Mr Shah said the government would help the organisers with all possible means to make the future editions of the event better.
Writer Noorul Huda Shah said holding such festivals in Karachi had huge significance as it linked Sindh to the rest of the world.
Jahangir Siddiqui, Fatima Hasan and Aijaz Mangi, chief patron of the event, also spoke.
The festival offered several cultural and literary niches to the visitors.
Bookstalls were aplenty for avid readers and food stalls offered traditional sweets, pickles, burgers, chicken tikkas and soft drinks to gourmands. Other stalls offered traditional dresses, quilts, ajraks and toys.
People turned up in sizeable number not only from various neighbourhoods of Karachi but from many other cities of the province to attend the festival hosted by the Sindh Literary Foundation.
The organisers said they had planned to hold the SLF once in a year which would basically champion Sindh’s culture and celebrate its literature chiefly in Sindhi language, but other languages, including Urdu, English, Balochi and Seraiki etc, would also be given ample space, as Sindh was a multicultural land — “the land of the givers and not the snatchers”, as one of the organisers put it.
The festival would continue till Sunday during which dozens of sessions on literature, history, fine arts, poetry and drama would be held.
A number of singers and bands have also been lined up to perform in the coming sessions, the organisers said.
Originally published in Dawn, October 28th, 2017