Peshawar festival opens

PESHAWAR: Tourism Corporation Khyber-Pakhtukhwa (TCKP) and Directorate of Archaeology and Museums inaugurated the much-awaited art and crafts festival on Friday, which will continue through the weekend.

Held at the city’s most important archaeological landmark, Gor Gathri, the event is aimed at celebrating the cultural heritage of the province. Kicking things off with the Khattak dance, the performances attracted large crowds from various parts of the city.

Preparations for the festival have been going on for weeks. The complex is decorated with artificial gates, lights and large portraits of Sher Shah Suri and Malik Saad Shaheed, among others.

Two vintage fire engines from 1919 and 1921 that were recently repaired were displayed for those attending the festival.

The archeology department has built an enclosure for the site’s Sarai Jahanabad area, with the help of aluminum gates and windows.

This weekend the area is facilitating various artists, musicians and collectors who have set up stalls to display their work.

Safar Ali, a collector of antique household utensils, and Niaz Ali, who specialises in making handicrafts with straw, greeted people with enthusiasm as they passed by their stalls.

Like Latifullah Khan, who brought out his collection of vinyl records for the event, other music enthusiasts set up stalls displaying both old and modern instruments. Visitors could also admire jewellery and readymade Pukhtun dresses. Participants from other parts of K-P are expected to arrive on Saturday (today).

Sarai Jahanabad was commissioned by the daughter of Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in 1641 when she came to the city. She wanted the area to feature roadside inns to accommodate travelers passing through.

“The historical site tells the story of our rich and ancient history and the festival reflects our cultural heritage,” said Ahmad Zaman, a visitor at the event. Zaman said people should support the festival and more should be done to preserve the city’s historical sites. “It is a step toward preserving Pukhtun art, crafts and traditions, which are dying,” said Mehmood Khan, TCKP managing director.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2014.

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