A show of colours to revive the ‘dead’ civilisation
Instead of usual dusty plains, the Mound of the Dead was a palette of red, green and purple hues. At the world heritage site of Mohenjodaro, around 600 people, mostly ministers, diplomats and journalists, witnessed the sights and sounds of the long lost Indus Valley civilisation on February 1.
Amid the sounds and lights, the Mound of the Dead came alive. The impressive event was the inauguration ceremony of the Sindh Festival 2014 – the brainchild of Pakistan People’s Party leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The dignitaries were flown to Larkana by a Pakistan International Airlines chartered plane that made three round trips from Karachi.
All eyes were set on the multi-million rupees extravaganza because of the controversies created in the media for organising the show at the protected site. The Unesco-declared heritage site is protected and any activities or construction at the site are prohibited. But cultural adviser Sharmila Farooqi claimed no damage was done to the historical site and all international conservation standards followed for the arrangements.
The country’s leading real estate developer, the Bahria Town, was the sole corporate sponsor of the event, which was organized by the Sindh government.
The organisers wanted to highlight the great historical heritage of Mohenjodaro — a civilisation dating back to over 5,000 years.
Strict security measures had been taken for the event and more than 2,000 armed policemen were deployed at the site. All guests had to queue up and pass through electronic security gates as security officials searched every guest.
Among the guests were two former prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf, Senator Aitizaz Ahsan, Faryal Talpur, Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and Sharmila Farooqi. While the dignitaries were excited, some friends of Bilawal were ecstatic.
Bilawal was seated with the two former prime ministers besides Qamar Zaman Kaira and Ahsan. Dr Zulfiqar Mirza, his wife Dr Fehmida Mirza along with his son and other family members also attended the musical function. This was the first public appearance of the outspoken Mirza after the recovery of his ailing wife, which suggests he would be soon active again in party.
While the weather was cold, the guests enjoyed the music and traditional food thoroughly and some even danced to the dunes of Sindhi folk music.
Wooden and steel scaffolding formed the grand stage, which was decorated like an ancient kingdom, and what followed were laser presentations of 3D animations, dances, a concert and a fashion show.
While Rahat Fateh Ali Khan enthralled the audience with his melodic voice, the bands of Beygairat Brigade and Azal rocked the event with some hip-hop songs composed especially for the festival. The stand-up comedian turned singer, Ali Gul Pir, performed a song written exclusively for the Sindh Festival, “Super Saeen”. He also tweaked his famous “Wadere ka Beta” to “Pakistan ka Beta” for the show.
The event was a celebration of hope and civilisation. At the end of the show, Bilawal proclaimed it was the first time in the country’s history that such an important event had been done at such an important site.
Though it was an event for the inauguration of the 15-day Sindh festival, the event was also an opportunity for Bilawal to build a soft image of the country across the world. The foreign journalists brought to the event also availed the chance and interviewed Bilawal at the Mohenjodaro museum.
A former federal minister, Senator Maula Bux Chandio, pointed out that the name of the site was not “Mohenjo Daro”, as used widely by the culture department, but it was “Moenjodaro”. He insisted there was no need to change the name of heritage. Interestingly, the culture department has used Mohenjo Daro on all brochures and pamphlets and even on the invitations sent out by Bilawal.
But the question is: will the event spark the interest of the top-notch event planners which are always on the lookout for such venues – for example Mohatta Palace or Frere Hall in Karachi – to hold cultural events at Mohenjodaro. And, will the Sindh government allow them?