Koocha-i-Saqafat — reviving Sindh’s cultural traditions
KARACHI: It may not have been a street affair as had been the norm, but Koocha-i-Saqafat at the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi on Sunday adopted a holistic approach and provided a platform where music, theatre, book stalls, art and handicrafts, and delicious food were present, so the public could spend hours with family and friends.
Inaugurated in 2003, Koocha-i-Saqafat used to be held outside the Arts Council premises, where people from all walks of life could stroll through the street and enjoy the varied shades of Sindh, all in an attempt to reconnect people to the past, and revive the cultural ties of the present. The festival disappeared for a number of years, and 2016 marks its revival amid much fanfare.
“This festival is for all those who love books, for those who love music, and for all those who love life,” said former Arts Council secretary Ahmed Shah.
He also shared the background of the Koocha, which had been initiated with the intention to convert the area around the Arts Council into a cultural village where the city’s cultural and literary events could be organised.
However, due to the deteriorating law and order situation in the city, the plan failed to take off. “Today is the revival of this dream,” he said.
The venue saw a steady trickle of young students, families and their older counterparts visiting stalls set up all over the Arts Council. In one corner a range of foodstuffs were being freshly prepared, while children huddled around stalls waiting for their turn for face painting and other similar activities. Handicrafts were displayed as were traditional embroidered garments from different parts of Sindh. Several artists were also present who exhibited their work to prospective buyers.
Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, a prominent patron of the Arts Council and who was the chief guest at the event, spoke about how Koocha-i-Saqafat in an attempt to encourage reading habits within society, as well as reclaim the arts and culture of the province and present it to a wide cross section of society.
“One of the most important components of the festival was to offer this platform every Sunday, and especially encourage participation of the people belonging to the interior of Sindh. We must make a conscious effort to allow people from different districts of Sindh to come forward and present their products at Koocha-i-Saqafat. This will, in the long run, become a source of income for them.”
Asif Hyder Shah, the Karachi commissioner, was also present to express his support to the Arts Council and all its present and future ventures.
“Such projects will allow the traditions of Sindh to remain eternal and at the same time provide respite to all citizens in troubled times such as the likes of what we are experiencing today.”
He also offered a suggestion to the government, under the guidance of the governor, to provide insurance to unemployed artists.
The attendees were also treated to the traditional and festive Sindhi dance to the popular folk song Ho Jamalo.