The Folklore Festival will explore the common cultural and civilisational bondings of the SAARC region through the ancient civilisational and cultural roots of the region, which are intertwined and are more common than anywhere else in the world.
This Festival is being organized by the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL), APEX BODY of SAARC, the only organisation in eight SAARC countries : India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Afghanistan, legally authorized to organise literature-related and cultural programmes under the SAARC banner and SAARC logo.
In other words, our FOSWAL is the cultural wing of SAARC.
We were THE FIRST in the subcontinent who initiated the process of building bridges of dialogue among writers and intellectuals of India and Pakistan, through our cultural organisation, way back in September 1987.
Our active exploration of Folklore and Folk Music and Folk Performances was launched three decades back, in 1977, when we brought mirasis from Punjab, particularly Nooran with the wild, passionate voice of the far-away forests, with the resonance of centuries of folk songs and folk traditions, who performed to a stunned audience in FICCI Auditorium. She sat there like a sculpture chiselled out of black granite, with the backdrop of red carpets all over the auditorium.
Then, in 1979, we invited folk musicians who played folk instruments which are vanishing, like algozas, rababs, toombis, dhadd-sarangis.
And a couple of years back we signed an MOU with Jamia Millia to launch research on Folklore of the SAARC region.
Folklore is a terribly ignored subject, particularly in our SAARC region, where languages are dying, and so are the folklore traditions. It is high time that mad and committed people like me, and intelligent people like you should wake up to the SOS call of our oral traditions of folklore, and try to resurrect and save a vital part of our cultural and civilisational heritage.
This Folklore Festival re-orients the entire cultural paradigm by foregrounding the culture of our common people expressed so fully and beautifully through folk tales, songs, myths, legends, proverbs, rituals, dances and plays.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS EVENT EMANATES FROM THE FACT THAT CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE AND RESEARCH AND CULTURAL PROGRAMMES FOCUS ON THE INTELLIGENTIA AND THE ELITE. THE WHOLE CULTURAL THRUST IGNORES THE VOICE OF THE MASSES, WHICH CAN BE HEARD AND UNDERSTOOD THROUGH ORAL TRADITIONS OF FOLKLORE AND FOLK SONGS WHICH ARE LYING AT THE ROOT OF HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL MEMORIES OF OUR SAARC NATIONS.
It is within our oral traditions, our folk theatre, folk songs and folk tales, that the souls of our societies reside. They showcase the culture of the masses, the simple and the naïve people who unravel the mysteries of life through their centuries old oral expressions, and are closer to life, nature, birds, plants, animals ! We sing of changing season and rivers, of births and deaths ! We have songs for all stages of life : right from the third month of pregnancy, to death. We , the people of the SAARC region are the only people who sing and cry, cry with howling songs for the dead body lying on the floor.
It is the folktales, folksongs, myths and legends of the South Asian region with common roots, which need to be deciphered and understood if societal issues are to be adequately and comprehensively addressed, and if we want to hear the voice of the voiceless, and want to reach out to them through cultural connectivity focusing on their way of life.
We must focus on the fact that ours is one of the oldest civilizations in the world.
Through cultural awareness, and rekindling the spirit of a shared cultural and civilisational history, which is rich and unique in its vastness and depth, crystallized over thousands of years, a new and distinctive SAARC SPIRIT can be kindled, evolved, brought into focus.
This Festival, which will not only be a significant milestone for India, considering its pivotal role as Chair of SAARC, but will also help to strengthen the process of cultural connectivity, in these times of terror when there is an imperative for recognition of cultural identities – ethnic, religious, linguistic and racial, a vibrant reality involving the creative fraternity of the SAARC Region.
In this era of globalization, when communities and countries are feeling that their local cultures are being swept away, it is profoundly essential that cultural connectivity through ancient traditions of folklore, the repositories of our common cultural and civilisational heritage, are focused, projected, strengthened and reinforced by initiatives of creative fraternity and folklore scholars.
This FESTIVAL OF SAARC FOLKLORE, the first such Festival in South Asia, will be a unique forum for providing a platform to share, exchange and present the multi-faceted dimensions of Culture of the
Masses ! The Folk !