Second Sindh Literature Festival is happening

 Second Sindh Literature Festival is happening

Karachi: The second Sindh Literature Festival (SLF) began on Friday at a local hotel in Karachi, as a folk orchestra played traditional Sindhi tunes while prominent guests cut the ribbon to officially open the event.

Sindh Culture Minister Syed Sardar Shah, who addressed the inaugural session, stated that festivals like this were crucial in the current geopolitical climate as culture is a powerful tool in combatting extremism and militancy.

“Such events are highly needed to save our culture,” said the minister.

‘Such festivals are important to keep militancy, extremism at bay’

“We have a centuries-old tradition of literary and cultural festivals at the anniversaries of our Sufi saints. These festivals are reformed incarnation of the same ritual.”

He said that if the government and intelligentsia did not organize these events, who would? He questioned, “Will the banned militant groups hold these events?” He also highlighted that all actions that preserve the society’s pluralism and tolerance were on the government’s list of priorities.

The minister said he had been criticised for being a “melai” [culture-loving] minister, “but,” he added, “I love to be called this, because it is [better] to be a melai than an extremist.”

He said the recent cultural show in London was a success despite all sorts of criticism at home.

“We are going to organise a national conference on Makli, which is among the world heritage sites, in January,” he added.

Changing Karachi’s name

Mr Shah put forth a proposal to change Karachi’s name to its historical original name of Kalachi as names of many cities in India, including Mumbai, had been changed.

“Should we not get a resolution passed to change Karachi’s name to the one it was historically called?”

Mr Shah said the government would help the organisers with all possible means to make the future editions of the event better.

Writer Noorul Huda Shah said holding such festivals in Karachi had huge significance as it linked Sindh to the rest of the world.

Jahangir Siddiqui, Fatima Hasan and Aijaz Mangi, chief patron of the event, also spoke.

The festival offered several cultural and literary niches to the visitors.

Bookstalls were aplenty for avid readers and food stalls offered traditional sweets, pickles, burgers, chicken tikkas and soft drinks to gourmands. Other stalls offered traditional dresses, quilts, ajraks and toys.

People turned up in sizeable number not only from various neighbourhoods of Karachi but from many other cities of the province to attend the festival hosted by the Sindh Literary Foundation.

The organisers said they had planned to hold the SLF once in a year which would basically champion Sindh’s culture and celebrate its literature chiefly in Sindhi language, but other languages, including Urdu, English, Balochi and Seraiki etc, would also be given ample space, as Sindh was a multicultural land — “the land of the givers and not the snatchers”, as one of the organisers put it.

The festival would continue till Sunday during which dozens of sessions on literature, history, fine arts, poetry and drama would be held.

A number of singers and bands have also been lined up to perform in the coming sessions, the organisers said.