WAH CANTT: The live performance by a Swiss artist, Buddhist folk singers from Sindh, traditional dance by local artists to drum beats, and finally the live performance by legendary folk singer Sian Zahoor enthralled the participants of the first Gandhara festival at Gandhara Art Village near Taxila on Sunday.
Sculptors and stone carvers had also established stalls at the festival which attracted a large number of art lovers from the twin-cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
The event showcased a fusion of traditional Pakistani and Swiss music, with performances by renowned artists from both countries, including Wajih Nizami, Markus Hauser, Loris Peloso.
Folk tales of Buddhism by folk Buddhist singers were also presented on the occasion.
Addressing the event, Punjab Arts Council Director General Muhammad Mehboob Alam said the promotion of culture was the top priority of the government and the recent approval of the first cultural policy of Punjab was a testament to the efforts of the Punjab Arts Council.
He added that Punjab Arts Council would organize festivals on Gandhara, Harappa, Sindhi, and Hakra cultures of Cholistan.
He said that cultural fairs would also be organized in all other districts of Punjab. Two-day Gandhara festival would be held in Taxila while a five-day event would be held in Rawalpindi, he added.
Pakistan-Romania Friendship Association Chairman Zaildar Ahsan Shah said such events play a key role in promoting local art and soft image of the country in the world.
He said Taxila was blessed with more than 30 ancient cities of cultural importance, which were on UNESCO’s world cultural heritage list. Taxila could be made the hub of religious tourism and public-private partnership could play a pivotal role in that regard.
Executive Director of Pakistan Research Center for Community for Shacked Future Muhammad Khalid Taimur was the chief guest of the inauguration ceremony.
Speaking on the occasion, he said that Gandhara, the great centre of world cultural heritage, was a region of different religions and “We are the heirs and trustees of this civilization.”
The meaning Gandhara is the land of fragrances located at the foot of the mountains, and “We have gathered to spread the fragrances of this civilization, refine its art, spread its colours, and to appreciate the masterpieces of its artisans and to inspire its knowledge,” he added.
Taimor said that the message of peace, tolerance and love for humanity would be spread through these fairs.
Director PAC Rawalpindi Waqar Ahmad, on the occasion, said that the promotion of culture was one of the priorities of the Punjab government.
Along with Gandhara, Punjab Arts Council will organize festivals on the Hakra culture of Harappa, Sindhi and Cholistan.
In the opening ceremony, a band from Switzerland led by Wajih Nizami made the audience dance. Folk singer Sain Zahoor presented his Sufi songs in a narrative style and received great applause from th audience.
The followers of Buddha from Sukkur left no stone unturned in making the ceremony memorable. A large number participated in the festival that will continue till February 4.