Sindh Festival ends on a high with Abida Parween’s dhamaal
THATTA: The 15-day Sindh Festival, organised to promote the vibrant culture and traditions of the province, ended on high with a dhamaal by the living legend, Abida Parween, on Saturday.
Unlike most events of the festival, which had largely catered to the viewing pleasures of a hand-picked audience, the closing ceremony at Makli Stadium in Thatta saw a large crowd of people from all walks of life. The energetic crowd, who stood for hours under the blazing sun, were enticed by the hosts, Shaista Lodhi, Hamza Ali Abbasi, Bakhshan Mehranvi and Fakhre Alam. “Do not care for the heat,” shouted the hosts. “You must defeat the forces who wish to destroy your culture. Today is the day of conquest.”
The stadium itself, decked up in shrouds of ajrak, was a testament to the remarkable uniqueness of the culture that the festival bespoke. Located in Thatta, the first capital of the province, the district is a significant landmark in the history of the subcontinent. Often referred to as the Babul Islam [gateway of Islam] by historians, it was through Thatta that Muhammad bin Qasim came to the subcontinent.
Moreover, two of the most important characters of Sindhi folklore, Sassui and Noori, were associated with the district.
The ceremony on Saturday saw a large number of MNAs, MPAs and ministers of the Pakistan Peoples Party in attendance. The provincial chief minister, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, was also seen enjoying himself in the VIP enclosure. Despite the strict security measures in place, with a two-kilometre area around the stadium cordoned off, what was especially pleasing about the event was the large number of citizens in attendance.
The 10,000-strong crowd danced and sang along with the artists as the event kicked off with performances by Alan Fakir and Muhammad Ali Sheki. The most tumultuous response was received by singer, Taj Mastani, for her songs, ‘Marsoon marsoon Sindh na desoon’ and ‘Bhutto ja dushman, aseen golay golay mareenda seen’. Another hit among the audience was Shehzad Roy’s ‘Laga Reh’.
Performances by other popular bands, such as Azal and Circle of Trust, also received a warm response by the zealous crowd.
Perhaps the highlight of the event was the entrance of Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, who made her way to the stage amid much clapping and hooting from the crowd. Dressed in a flowing green kameez and a white shalwar, Bakhtawar certainly looked the part as she addressed the audience about the need to protect our culture. Strangely enough, Bakhtawar’s well-rehearsed speech in Engligh, which she read off a paper, seemed to rejuvenate the crowd as they cheered her leader on. “We are Pakistan and we are proud of it!” her voice boomed across the stadium. “Our society and cultural values are threatened by terrorism. Our historical sites are threatened by environmental and climatic changes,” she said.
Bakhtawar went on to explain that the festival was an attempt to promote, protect and preserve the heritage sites. She revealed that the Sindhu Heritage Trust had been formed to protect these sites.
Following the speech, Bakhtawar took a seat next to the CM, from where she clapped and waved at the crowd as the speakers blared the Sindhi hit, ‘Daane pe daana’. The last performance was the much-anticipated number by Abida Parween as the crowd, young and old, joined the dhamaal that would mark the end of festivities until next year.