Lok Virsa celebrates folk singer Zarsanga’s music

The Lok Virsa here on Friday named a hall after the famous Pashto folk singer Zarsanga to honour her services for Pashto folk singing.

Lok Virsa Executive Director Dr Fouzia Saeed speaking on the occasion said that Lok Virsa felt really proud today that we were celebrating a legend Zarsanga and her services for the Pashto folk music but this was not the end of it and we would keep promoting and celebrating folk singers.

She said Lok Virsa has been promoting folk singers and took a number of initiatives to promote rich regional folk music of different areas of Pakistan. “It is very unfortunate that women are disappearing from folk music but Lok Virsa is making every possible effort to provide an enabling environment so the mantle of folk music is transferred to the coming generations” Dr Fauzia said.

Zarsanga who was present at the ceremony thanked Lok Virsa for honouring her and said that this act would encourage others to join the genre of folk singing. Zarsanga, the ‘Queen of Pashtun Folklore’ is a force in our folk heritage that has defied odds to conquer her erroneous homeland and win the hearts of many. Born in Zafar Mamakhel in Laki Marwat, Zarsanga belonged to the nomadic tribe called Kutanree which travels between Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar.

The revered vocalist married a fellow nomad, Malla Jan and is a mother of four children. A shepherd from Pakhtunkhwa, Zarsanga sees her life transformed at a wedding when her voice fascinated a master who took her to sing on the Peshawar Radio. Belonging to a gypsy family of Tank, Zarsanga, also known as the desert queen of Pashto music, has performed in USA, UK, France, Germany, Belgium, UAE, Iraq and many more countries; but preferred to live in a clay-made house in the suburbs of Peshawar.

Pashtu melody queen Zarsanga is known for her folk songs, desert arias, and mountainous gharhi (a type of Pashtu tapi) and has many popular songs to her credit. Being illiterate she was unable to sing ghazals and thus concentrate on gharhi and folk songs which are popular among Pakhtoons. She had also won an international voice competition in Germany organised by Dr Kabir Stori of Pakhtoon Social Democratic Party. Her 25-year old son Shehzada has adopted the singing profession and besides singing at hujra and stage level, has also performed on TV and radio.