Folk musicians from Gilgit-Baltistan mesmerised the audience at the annual Lok Mela, held at the Lok Virsa in Shakarparian Saturday night.

Artists who performed at the event included Salman Paras, Manzoor Baltistani, Saddique Mughal, Rashid Iqbal, Iqbal Hussain, Doulat Wali Baig and the dance group Barmi Harees.

A statement issued by Lok Virsa quoting Ashraf Sada, the standing committee chairman at the GB Council Secretariat who was invited to the event as chief guest, as saying: “We will support every initiative that can lead to create national harmony and integration among the nation.”

On the festival grounds, the organisers presented a unique combination of the cultural heritage of all of Pakistan’s federating units. In addition to the provinces, GB is also participating in the festival with a contigent of more than 40 master artisans, folk artists, musicians and officials.

In the GB pavilion, a group of young artists and musicians in traditional dress attracted visitors with their spellbinding performance.

The organisers said that GB has historically been the crossroads of various civilisations. Its unique location serves as a confluence for some of the world’s highest mountain ranges, the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush.

“GB is home to a number of diversified cultural entities, ethnic groups and various backgrounds. This multitude blend of culture is because of the strategic location of Gilgit,” an organiser said.

Being a multicultural and multilingual area, the people of GB have a mix of lifestyles and attitudes that make up a pluralistic society of people living together in harmony for centuries, he said.

The Lok Mela will conclude today (Sunday) with a colourful awards ceremony for the artists and artisans who were featured at the festival based on the recommendations of a national jury.

Originally published in Dawn, November 24th, 2019

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