The fourth edition of Lahooti Melo kicks off this weekend with non stop music and love for music.
This year, the Melo has the theme of 'An Ode to a Liberated Woman' and holds many sessions in respect to that. The Melo will feature numerous power talks on issues such as forced marriages and gender and public spaces.
Numerous artists, both famous and upcoming, are set to take the stage for performances, including Mekaal Hassan, Arieb Azhar, Jimmy Khan and Chand Tara Orchestra.
Team Images got in touch with the Lahooti Melo founder Saif Samejo and organisers Sana A Khoja and Areesha Khuwaja.
Saif Samejo is also the founder of the Lahooti Music Ashram, a platform for musicians who cannot get the opportunities they deserve, and for promoting peace and harmony through music. He will be performing at the Melo with his band The Sketches.
Sana manages the logistics, volunteers, artists and much more while Areesha is the artist who created the animated video for the Sketches track, 'Raat.' She designed the art work of Lahooti live sessions and Lahooti Melo.
Images: How would you briefly describe the Lahooti Melo?
Team: Our tag line says it all - A festival to talk music, poetry, art, and dance. It is a festival having something for all. But what sets it apart is how it consciously uplifts racial, cultural and now gender based connections, between the audience and artists. Lahooti melo has become an amplifier for the small but powerful voice coming from deep inside the hearts of a common individual that spreads like a wildfire on its own and consumes all those who become a part of it.
Images: How did you come to choose the festivals theme 'An Ode to a Liberated Woman'?
Team: The theme, 'An Ode To a Liberated Woman' represents layers and layers of steps of rising from individual consciousness to a collective one. Our inspiration is a story of a girl and a predator that started from our first festival. But that story no longer belongs to that predator. That story has become about that one girl and her journey to healing.
It starts from a past rooted in pain: a kind of pain that gives one depth, and moves towards healing: here there are breaths to be taken and a lesson to be recalled. Lesson that height is just as important as depth to create balance and height cannot be reached without tending to the wounds that the depth brought with it. Finally, the ladder to liberation: giving your emotions the worth they deserve, growing out of the societal expectations, choosing to not let yourself be defined by anyone or anything else other than yourself, and eventually rising above own self image as well to open your inner eyes to see how limitless you are. We chose a woman to reflect this journey of rising above because we believe it starts with her. She represents & educates the family, leads the community to health, and will eventually walk the world towards healing with her sensitivity as her strength and vulnerability as her armor.
Images: What does this theme mean or hope to represent?
Our team knows how many big challenges we have faced when we decided to choose this theme. It's because it has weight. It is an honest hope to represent the voice of the unheard and the silenced. The voice suffocated under the men in power. The voice of survivors of violence stifled under the pressure of protecting the honor of their family or their community. The voice of all brave souls suffering and looking for others like them, for direction and for hope. Through this theme, through a woman, we aim to represent every individual in the society looking for healing and moving beyond.
Images: What demographic is this festival catering to? What demographic ends up attending?
Team: Lahooti caters to audience from all over South Asia. Where we have sessions centered to address current issues and immediate actions that need to be taken regarding these creative, developmental, Social justice related, environmental, mental health or educational challenges faced by our own public, our sessions also reflect the issues and solutions that are part of the discourse of all South Asian countries. Some sessions are a part of the global discussions too but in the end we always find our way back to our roots with them. Similarly, we bring global cultures to Sindh through music, dance, and theater performances as well. We end up getting audience from all over the country and other South Asian countries too. However, there's a larger global audience on our social media that would love to be physically present in our celebration only if our relationships with other countries weren't so complicated. We hope to some day welcome them in our great big family too.
Images: What sessions or performances should people make sure to attend?
Team: This year, we have such promising sessions and performances that it has become difficult for us to pick out favorites. However, we are really looking forward to the discussion in Be Khauf Azad Hai Jeena Mujhe: From #Metoo to #NeverAgain, Redefining Consent, and woman through the eyes of literature. All sessions will have something new to offer but these three very carefully curated sessions hold the essence to our festival's theme this year. There are very some very interesting individual Power Talks to take place as well, and they are a must for every attendee. Performances are all worth experiencing. We have amazing local and indigenous talent on board and our international line up of artists from Italy, Nepal, France, and the United States is already creating quite an uproar in our audience.