The 3rd,three day SAARC Folklore and Heritage Festival was held in Chandigarh from 3rd December. The event was organised by Foundation
of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL) in association with Ministry of External Affairs (Govt of India) and Chandigarh Administration.
FOSWAL, an apex body of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), is the only organization in eight countries including India,
Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Afghanistan, legally authorized to hold cultural programmes under the SAARC
banner and logo.
The first day of the festival saw a galaxy of scholars taking part in the Folklore Academic Research Seminar. First day folk performers
presented programmes that included Algozas Orchestra (Punjab), Dhol Cholum Dance (Manipur), Folk Guitar (Maldives), Dhangad Folk Dance
(Nepal), Hozagiri folk dance (Tripura) and Kalbelia dance (Rajasthan) during the day. In the evening programmes, one of the main attractions of
the mega event was Sapera Been Jogis of Haryana followed by a skillful presentation by Puran Das Baul (West Bengal) and Iqbal Bahu from
Pakistan. Rajasthani Kalbelia dance attracted people's attention, while Quddus Boyati Group of Bangladesh and artistes from Sri Lanka also
performed on the stage.
During the three day cultural festival eminent artists from across the sub-continent performed in the tricity of Chandigarh,Mohali and
Panchkula at various places to spread the message to every nook and corner of the tricity. The colorful events extensively diversified from
Ladakhi folklore to Folk songs of Maldives. Dholwala Saeen from Pakistan enthralled the audience as Dhol Cholum from Manipur also . Malangs
from Pakistan performed in such a way that every Punjabi sitting in the audience felt that he is sitting in the common place of his own village.
The audience enjoyed the breath stopping dances choreographed by Ariyarhne Kaluarachichi from Sri Lanka or soothe the eternity of soul by
listening to Kabir Bani by Prahalad Kurmi. The Sufi songs by artists from Pakistan, recital of Bulle Shah and Nirgun Bhajans were also there .
Large number of people visited the various places where programmes were held that made it clear that music knows no language.Traditional
musical instruments dominated during the programmes.Afganistan's artists presented songs in Farsi and Pashto on their old traditional
instruments. During the three days, it was felt that aim of the festival was achieved as people came to know about each other's culture and
traditions through artists.
Ajeet Cour, President, FOSWAL. said "folklores lie deep down in the roots of our existence and chisel our sensitivity and ethics, morals and
social values, and form the core of our cultural consciousness," Briefing on the uniqueness and importance of cultural unity of the SAARC
countries, she said "In whole of our SAARC region, our folklore creates bonds among us in a very subtle invisible way and that is the beauty of
our value system and ethical values which make us different from the maddening pace of the western world. Manmohan Singh Mitwa, Vice
President and Chief Coordinator of FOSWAL emphasized the role of artistes and writers in promoting harmony in the South Asian region
through cultural blending and sharing of cultural values. Naming the FOSWAL activists as "Mad Dreamers", he specified the requirement of
separating the writers and cultural fraternity from political and diplomatic work to develop bridges of friendship across the borders and
beyond the borders.
Jaswinder Singh Randhawa,AIR Correspondent, Chandigarh