The largest cultural activity in Pakistan is the annual National Folk Festival (Lok Mela), held in October each year. Over the past two decades, this festival has taken on an international flavor and more than 20 different countries have sent their artisans and performers to participate in the festival. Nationally, the festival has become a thing of pride for artisans and performers, who come on their own to participate. Most important of all, the Provinces of Pakistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir put up beautifully decorated pavilions and visitors have the unique opportunity to see an assortment of Pakistan’s traditionally rich culture in the federal capital of Islamabad for an exciting ten days.
An exhibition of artisans at work under the banner of the Heritage Museum forms the core of this festival. The Research & Media Centre of Lok Virsa arranges groups of dancers that perform all over the festival grounds, inviting visitors to join in, and in the evening, arrange music concerts from all parts of Pakistan. Documentation of the festival is carried out by Lok Virsa’s researchers, who interview all the artisans and artists.
Participants come from all over Pakistan. You would be able to feel and experience the variety in tastes, cultures, and heritage of Pakistan all under one roof. One may find different pavilions displaying the crafts of their respective provinces. The Kashmir pavilion may display major crafts from Azad Jammu and Kashmir like Embroidered shawls, Namda and Gabba (floor rugs and wall hangings), wood works, basketry, metal crafts, and jewelry, etc.
The Punjab Pavilion hosts traditional food items along with singing and listening pleasures of Punjab folk songs. Punjabi-style handicrafts also manage to catch viewer attention.
From the Balochistan pavilion, expect to get depictions of nomadic Balochi lifestyles and traditional artisans displaying their skills in various Baloch crafts. Leather embroidery crafts and crafts using date leaves are also prime choices of interest in this pavilion. Apart from this, you can experience the magic of Balochi folk songs and their all-famous dish called “Sajji”.
The Sindh pavilion may offer depictions of the Sindh lifestyle, village scenes, and working men and women. Artisans prepare different crafts and their traditional folk songs and instruments. “Ajrak” a traditionally made shawl is by far the most highlighted attraction of this pavilion.
The N.W.F.P Pavilion features the pushtoon culture, customs, crafts, and cuisine. Metal crafts of Brass and Copper are displayed in a great variety along with stalls of traditional baskets. Stone carving which was traditionally done on tombstones is also shown in a diversified fashion which can be used on planters, table tops, and wall hangings. Along with this Pathan dancers perform their famous “Khattack Dance” and offer their traditional “Chappell Kebab” for your eating pleasures.
Apart from these pavilions, one may witness all kinds of cuisine, musical galas, and craft bazaars, like visa displays and sale stalls. A mesmerizing experience bound to create a lasting impression.