LAHORE: The 7th National Folk Puppet Festival opened at the Rafi Peer Cultural Complex on Raiwind Road here on Sunday.
The Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop (RPTW) and the Royal Norwegian Embassy have organised the four-day annual gala that will conclude on March 24.
The festival opened at 10:30am with amusing performances of folk puppeteers and children carrying balloons and flowers who celebrated the fragrant spring.
Since the festival opened on Sunday, not many of the schools came to see the festival; however 36 children from ‘Struggle Against Disability International Association’ visited the festival and enjoyed various performances. Rest of the visitors just walked in as it was a free-for-all gala.
Festival’s creative director Faizaan Peerzada told Dawn that the group of five folk puppeteers from India led by Kherati Ram Bhatt could not reach here because Indian immigration had sent them back from Amritsar as they did not have one of the required documents.
He said the group, however, would reach Pakistan after fulfilling the requirement. He said the RPTW was holding this festival for the last seven years to promote and safeguard the dying art of folk puppetry. He said the RPTW tried to help puppeteers as much as possible. The puppeteers would only bring string puppets while the glittering and shiny dresses to be worn by puppets were provided by the RPTW. These shiny dresses played an important role in building up different characters puppeteers build as part of folk tales, he added.
The puppeteers kept amusing people with their traditional skills. They were using string puppets with wooden carving on their heads and shoulders. While playing with the puppets, they were telling folk tales and singing folk songs. Some of the puppeteers also opted for Punjabi film songs.
Folk puppetry is an age-old tradition started in the times of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Around a dozen families of folk puppeteers are left in Pakistan who earn their bread and butter through this profession.
The police and private security had been deputed at the venue to avoid any unpleasant incident. The timings of the festival are from 10am to 1pm and from 5pm to 8pm.