Sindh festival: Learn from Bilawal, arrange culture festivals in every province!

Published: January 22, 2014

To fully appreciate the importance of the Sindh Festival, one perhaps needs to understand the importance of culture. PHOTO: SINDH FESTIVAL WEBSITE

Regardless of whether you like or dislike Bilawal Bhutto, regardless of where your political affiliations are based, the Sindh Festival initiative deserves nothing short of unanimous praise.

The homepage of the Sindh Festival website reads,

“The inaugural Sindh Festival, instigated by Patron-in-Chief of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, was conceived because Sindh’s rich heritage and culture is in danger. Mohenjo-Daro, the world’s oldest planned urban landscape, lies in a state of disrepair, a victim of neglect and indifference. It is but one of a myriad of sites of antiquity scattered across Sindh and Pakistan which need attention now if they are not to be lost forever.”

The festival will last for two weeks, starting on February 1, 2014 and ending on the15th. There is no point getting into details of what the festival will cover. Pakistan’s media has been abuzz with it for a while, ever since it was initially announced a few months back. But even for ones not familiar with the schedule, they can go through it on the mentioned website. The point here is the importance of this festival.

The area that is modern day Pakistan, is one of the most culturally rich areas on the planet. It was home to civilizations such as the Bronze Age Indus Valley and the Neolithic Mehrgarh, going as back as 3300 BCE.  Sindh traces its history back to the time aboriginal tribes who spoke the language of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Originally predominantly Hindu and Buddhist, fundamentalist Muslims rulers played a pivotal role in forcibly converting millions of native Sindhis to Islam. It is no surprise then that as things stand currently, the province of Sindh is Pakistan’s most liberal province which is in no small part down to its diverse history.

Source: Sindh Festival website

The importance of this festival is deep rooted in the current socio-political dynamics of Pakistan. The last one decade has seen the outbreak of unprecedented social suffocation in Pakistan, an era which has seen culture take a backseat.

It is not just limited to culture in Sindh but culture in other parts of our country too.

We remain a country with a diverse and rich history but all of that has fallen in the background of a violent spree of religious extremism that has poisoned us.

Source: Sindh Festival website

Every passing day witnesses gory stories of bloodshed screaming out of our TV screens and printed across our newspapers.

If that isn’t enough, political instability and a civil society in a perpetual state of confusion has given rise to more negative energy than positive. With a country effectively in a state of war for the last one decade, there have been very few instances to send a lease of new life through our veins and even fewer instances which make the air around you seem fresh.

This initiative by Bilawal is one such instance.

Source: Sindh Festival website

To fully appreciate the importance of this festival, one perhaps needs to understand the importance of culture. Once that is done, for a culturally rich region like Pakistan, the importance of this festival only magnifies.

Culture is one of the strongest forces binding people. It is something that brings people together across borders, backgrounds and ethnicity. The celebration of culture is healthy in a multitude of reasons, the most significant of which is celebrating your history and paying homage to your roots, something that has sadly dwindled from Pakistan in the recent past.

Source: Sindh Festival website

This is one of the many reasons why this initiative and its timing is so good, and why it feels like a breath of fresh air.

Our other provincial governments should also take a leaf out of Bilawal and the PPP’s book, and celebrate culture in other provinces too. Shahbaz Sharif has managed to organise the Punjab Youth Festival but it is primarily sports based. It needs to be expanded into a complete cultural aspect, incorporating elements of art and daily life. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and the government in Balochistan, in whatever capacity possible, need to organise events and festivals that celebrate their culture.

Source: Sindh Festival website

How the Sindh festival ends up is any one’s guess but by the looks of it, the whole thing will be nothing short of spectacular. Even if it doesn’t manage to live up to its hype, the initiative should be lauded across the country regardless of whether you are Sindhi or not.

Source: Sindh Festival website

Kudos to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. May this be the first of many great things to come!

salman Zafar

Salman Zafar

Cricket buff, retro music fan and an aspiring writer. He blogs at (theamazingyellowpig.blogspot.ca/) and tweets as @salmanzafar1985 (twitter.com/salmanzafar1985)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Bilal Afzal

    People are dying and here this joker wants to teach us the lesson of culture and heritage …i guess first he should take classes of Sindhi and Urdu before talking about heritage and cultureRecommend

  • Usman Khan

    Anyone have any idea what Bilawal pays to have these blogs written? I could do with the extra cash this time of the month.Recommend

  • Omair Shahid

    this is all good but priority should be education, health ,development interior sindh has nothing of it after that these type of festival should come 150 billions rs are spend by the government on this festivalRecommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    Totally baseless point.
    You cannot compare an apple with a blackberry. Lolz was a joke but still you cannot compare festival with bombing etc.

    People in Pakistan are frustrated with news regarding bombing and killing etc etc every day. You need to give ppl a chance to celebrate and enjoy. Either you are poor or rich ppl will enjoy this festival.
    Till you dont find a problem with it, arguing that first learn language etc is completely baseless…..!!!
    Rather than finding faults in almost every thing my advice is to try to achieve wht ever you can…even if its a little change…

    BTW NOT A PPP OR BILAWAL FAN!!!!Recommend

  • ovais

    In a province with 50 percent or less children in schoolsRecommend

  • Hindsindhjoshezado

    Bilal I think you are not looking at the bigger picture here. The writer has rightly pointed out that due to the intense pressure of Islamisation in this part of the world, cultural identities have been nullified and this space has been occupied by purely Islamic iconography I.e naming missiles after central Asian warlords or Islamic conquistadors and forgetting our own heroes hosho, dahir, kalhoro and soomros…which is why we are such a identity crisisRecommend

  • Hindsindhjoshezado

    Bilal I think you are not looking at the bigger picture here. The writer has rightly pointed out that due to the intense pressure of Islamisation in this part of the world, cultural identities have been nullified and this space has been occupied by purely Islamic iconography I.e naming missiles after central Asian warlords or Islamic conquistadors and forgetting our own heroes hosho, dahir, kalhoro and soomros…which is why we are such a identity crisisRecommend

  • Haris Javed

    This is appreciable. Perfect escape from daily miseries of life. Give credit where credit is due!

    But i would love to see Bilawal & Co. taking concrete initiatives about deteriorating affairs of law and order, education, energy, health, sanitation and other key performance indicators. But expecting PPP to do the right things is too much to ask i guess.. .Recommend

  • Haris Javed

    This is appreciable. Perfect escape from daily miseries of life. Give credit where credit is due!

    But i would love to see Bilawal & Co. taking concrete initiatives about deteriorating affairs of law and order, education, energy, health, sanitation and other key performance indicators. But expecting PPP to do the right things is too much to ask i guess.. .Recommend

  • Gappi

    Would this joker do something to improve the lives of Sindhis unlike his ancestors or continue playing dirty politics in the name of cultural shows. He wants to keep people backward in the name of culture in this era of globalization and modernization.Recommend

  • Gappi

    Would this joker do something to improve the lives of Sindhis unlike his ancestors or continue playing dirty politics in the name of cultural shows. He wants to keep people backward in the name of culture in this era of globalization and modernization.Recommend

  • Waseem Sarwar

    wow. So we should arrange cultural festival while our countrymen are dying? Spend every penny on security, food and education and we will definitely be celebrating our culture one day.Recommend

  • Waseem Sarwar

    wow. So we should arrange cultural festival while our countrymen are dying? Spend every penny on security, food and education and we will definitely be celebrating our culture one day.Recommend

  • Anwaar

    the culture of SIndh is awesome but thanks to the vultures of Sindh it is still undeveloped, the literacy is zero and except Karachi it has no other metropolis

    So lets just keep on celebrating cultures cuz the vultures aint gonna provide any development to you…Recommend

  • Parvez

    The leaders you are so enthralled by, looted and plundered this country and are still doing so……and now they come up with a transparent ‘ feel good ‘ gimic of a festival. At the same time they laugh at the pathetic state of the people…….how in the name of sanity can you appreciate this sheer hoax.Recommend

  • bob

    Highlighting culture is a good thing. Celeberating cultural festivals unites people . Are we not tired of all these terrorism acts and talk of Jihad all the time? We have a rich culture and history and it has nothing to do with the Arabs.Recommend

  • Ammar

    we need to promote our culture bcz we lack unity and nationalism…we are backward bcz we are divided..investment on culture will make our base strong..this is good step..we need to feel proud of our culture..All Pakistan should celebrate cultural daysRecommend

  • NotABrainlessZombie

    Yeah, run your fun parade while the country trembles in an economic doom.

    Welcome to Pakistan where unemployment, poverty, law and order and basic necessities come second to protecting our culture.

    My god! This is the biggest mockery I have yet seen.Recommend

  • Tajjee

    If it is in danger, BZ must hold his party’s government accountable for criminal negligience..Top drama wont gana save it.Recommend

  • Necromancer

    And furthermore to make this event more meaning full for the world we should also invite AMAN COMMITTEE which your dear uncles have been running successfully to mint money out of Karachi educated and middle class. and I Love Pakistan to core.Recommend

  • Hass

    What exactly is sindhi culture? colorful spice crushers and a woman taking water out of a freaking well in the 21st century?Recommend

  • salman

    I didn’t realise the superman logo originated in sindh. We need to sue DC comics for copyright infringement! Recommend

  • Aam Admi

    Very good people are dying everyday and we are wasting our time and money on these stupid festivalsRecommend

  • Muhammad Saim

    I am living in Sind interior and Karachi for last 14 years here is the culture:
    1- Filth all around you, from daily household garbage to contagious hospital waste all on footpaths.
    2- sewerage flowing over roads, and cars splashing the filth into the pots of nearby Nehari vendor who has blocked the road.
    3- People peeing and pooing right in middle of footpaths (no no not in a remote village, that happens right outside civil hospital and elsewhere)
    4- People sneezing and spitting gutka on your feet, on the walls, even on the doors of offices, lifts and where ever they could.
    5- Driving in the middle of the road but in the opposite direction on the busiest of the highways.
    6- Selling counterfeit drugs, infant milk mixed with filth.
    7- Bribe, theft of utilities.
    8- And ofcourse….cheap life…..tens of murders every day !!
    That’s our culture, So lets celebrate…
    (P.S. BBZ are you in Dubai or London?)Recommend

  • maria Asghar

    it is good to celebrate sindh festival but first bilawal should see the condition of sindh hospitals, last week i had experience of civil hospital and i was shocked to see the condition of civil hospital i am surprised how bilawal can spend 75 carorz on entertainment where common man does not have basic facilities. Recommend

  • Behlim

    @Muhammad Saim:
    Well the best defined of our cultureRecommend

  • Syed Mubeen Hussain Sabzwari

    First give them food, education and sheltersRecommend