Lahore, being the richest cultural city in Pakistan celebrates a number of festivals throughout the year. It is most popular for the festivals of Basant and Mela Chiraghan, but many others are celebrated in the metropolis as well.
Main article: Basant (season)
The biggest, or perhaps the best known, festival is that of Basant (or Jashn-e-Baharaan) held in February each year. Basant is a Punjabi festival celebrating the onset of the spring season and is also called the Basant Festival of kites. This festival is celebrated with kite flying competitions all over the city especially in the Androon-E-Shehr (The Inner City or the Walled City) area. The sky is literally filled with colorful kites of all shapes and sizes flown from rooftops. The kites are flown on strings called “Dorr” which is a special thread with cut glass embedded within which serves to cut the thread of competitor kites more effectively. Some of the kite-flying competitions get extremely competitive and serious. Women, on this day are seen wearing a bright yellow dress up to the hilt. This festival gained more and more importance over the years and used to attract people from all over the world. But since 2007, it has been banned.K
Main article: Mela Chiraghan
Mela Chiraghan or Mela Shalamar (Festival of Lights) is a three-day annual festival to mark the urs (death anniversary) of the PunjabiSufi poet and saint Shah Hussain. It takes place at the shrine of Shah Hussain in Baghbanpura, on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, adjacent to the Shalimar Gardens. The festival used to take place in the Shalimar Gardens also, until President Ayub Khan ordered against it in 1958. The festival used to be the largest festival in the Punjab, but now comes second to Basant.
National Horse and Cattle Show
The show is held at Fortress Stadium in the third week of November for 5 days. Activities in the event include cattle races, cattle dances, tent pegging, tattoo show, folk music, dances, bands, cultural floats and folkgames.
The show has been described as an eloquent expression of Pakistan's heritage and an authentic account of its agricultural and industrial achievement's. The fortress stadium, the venue of the show is thronged by active participants, foreign visitors and peoples who watch the festival with great enthusiasm, verve and aplomb. A large number of them are interested in watching and appreciating the best breeds of livestock. Many derive pleasure by watching other activities such as display parade of animals, dances by horses and camels, polo matches, dog shows and their races, vaudeville acts of stuntmen, mass display of military band, rhythmically physical exercise by the children, decorated industrial floats and torch light tattoo shows. Additional attractions include a subtle interplay of lights to weave enticing patterns at night and breath taking acts by foreign groups. The show began as a modest exhibition organized by the army to project the cattle wealth of the country in the early fifties.
Pakistan is an agricultural country its prosperity depends on agriculture and livestock. Cattle show provides incentives to the formers to develop agriculture and livestock. Cattle show encourages the farmers to graze their animals.
Today it is an international event to which come dignitaries from abroad and visitors and foreign tourists. The organizing committee comprises representatives of a number of agencies including army, rangers, LMC schools, the police, industrialists and the art councils.
World Performing Arts Festival
The World Performing Arts Festival is held every autumn (usually in November) at the Alhamra Arts Council, a large venue consisting of several theatres and amphitheatres. This ten-day festival consists of musicals, theatre, concerts, dances, solos, mime and puppet shows. The festival has an international flavour with nearly 80 percent of the shows performed by international performers. On average 15-20 different shows are performed every day of the festival.
Lahore Literary Festival
Lahore International Conference on Culture
Main article: Lahore International Conference on Culture
being organized by Youth Revolution Clan & Cultural Infusion Australia every year since 2014. Culture is a set of rules and behavioral patterns we learn with socialization. However, in a globalized (and multicultural) world culture became subject of discussions from various points of views, and its importance is not losing strength. In the past century, we witnessed many attempts to foster cultural agendas using popular culture where identities were formed in a way to present one nation to other nations in a favourable way, and where audiences were confronted with various messages that are sometimes blurred with first-hand experiences. States indeed invest funding in their cultural policies, and particularly in their cultural policies oriented towards abroad via external cultural institutes, or tourist offers where culture is emphasized as an achievement of a certain nation (most notably, in art and music).
Cultural relations, on the other hand, are centred on creating mutual recognition and understanding, however, many scholars and practitioners expressed criticism calling western countries as imperialists imposing their cultural patterns over less advanced countries just via peaceful means and not through colonialism anymore. On the other hand, culture is often a subject of discussion when minority groups are in stake because minorities find themselves surrounded by different culture, and in a dilemma whether to assimilate or to preserve their culture while still trying to lead average lives. The latter is then subject of criticism from conservatives and the Far Right that insist on integration, an unclear term that sometimes seems more like forced integration.
Papers and Research articles on following topics are also invited for publication and presentation.
Conference Theme and Discussion Topics:
• The Role of Culture in the Implementation of The 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development. • Multicultural Cities: The Challenges of Urban Governance. • Culture and Nationalism: Accepting Cultural Diversity. • Religion and Culture for Interfaith Harmony . • Cultural Diplomacy for Sustainable Development . • Intangible Cultural Heritage. • Culture and Media.
Objectives of The Conference:
Share experiences and propose strategic recommendations to strengthen culture-based sustainable development initiatives at the international, national, regional and local levels;
Present and discuss the draft Cultural Policy of Pakistan- for the Sustainable Development in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Creating Cultural Identity of Pakistan all over the world
Portraying the positive, peaceful and soft image of Pakistan
High-level representatives of Governments and International Organizations, internationally renowned experts, representatives of the private sector, Universities and non-governmental organizations from Australia, Germany, Switzerland, India, Srilanka, Jordan, Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, United States of America, Turkey , Greece, Cyprus, Denmark and Norway.
• The Lahore Outcomes: Recommendations on maximizing the role of culture to achieve sustainable development and effective ways of integrating culture in planning and regeneration of policies and creative economy and quality of life. • An international platform to share challenges, best practices and case studies on preservation and redevelopment of the Cultural Diplomacy of Pakistan. • Strategic input to finalize Youth Exchange Program with partner countries to strengthen the culture, share the values and traditions at International levels.
Women Excellence Awards
This Event is a celebration of women who are Genius, leader, inspiring & have overcome the most extreme adversity – The event aims to recognize the achievements of Top Women Inspiring the youth through their Achievements.
The First Ever Women's Excellence Awards are Organized by Youth Revolution Clan and Kinnaird College for Women. Awardees Include:
The event is Founded by Mr. Rizwan Anwar (Chairman Youth Revolution Clan), Maha Jamil (Co-Chair YRC) and Ms. Sair S. Farooqi (Head of Business Studies Department Kinnaird College . The event was Co-organized by Mehwish Haroon (President Kinnaird Entrepreneurial Club) with Asfand Yar Naseer (President YRC) .Official Partners Include United We Reach, HospitAll,Hayat Foundation and Azeem raza Photography.
- National Industrial Exhibition Lahore (3rd week of November for 15 days): Held at Fortress Stadium, Lahore. Exhibition and sale of industrial products and handicrafts of Pakistan.
- Punjab Sports Festival, a divisional level annually sports festival.
The ancient eastern city of Lahore marks the beginning of spring with the Basant carnival, an orgy of kite-flying, rooftop soirees, garden parties and equestrian events, much to the disgust of Islamic clerics. Lahorites and out-of-town enthusiasts don glamorous clothes, in the yellow and green of spring flowers blooming citywide, to bid farewell to the frosts and fogs of winter and usher in spring.
Nighttime kite-flying in the walled old quarter around the 16th century Badshahi mosque and Lahore fort opens the festival. Ancient mughal palaces throw open their doors for all-night parties to view the kites, illuminated by spotlights slashing the sky. Stars from the local 'Lollywood' film industry perform with classical Qawali musicians at parties in traditional haveli homes.
White paper kites shimmer in the night sky, diving and soaring as rival fliers joust in duels marked by battle cries of Pecha! and victory shouts of bo kata! Bursts of drums and trumpets mark the cutting of a kite's cord.
Men drape themseves in embroidered shalwar kameeze with matching ankle-length scarves, little boys strut in three piece suits, and women coat their hands with henna and stack their arms with bangles.
"If you wander through the old city tonight, you will see a lot of freedom. This is the true nature of the Pakistani people," said Basant fan and veteran political observer Imtiaz Alam, jailed by former military dictator Zia ul Haq in the 1970s for his liberal writings.
Islamic clerics have issued edicts each year branding the festival as Hindu or pagan in origin. This year, buoyed by gains made in October elections by religious parties, the clerics have revived public attacks on the festival. "The government should not patronize Basant as many illegal activities related to Basant get protection," Liaqat Baloch, federal parliamentarian and deputy leader of the fundamentalist Jamat-i-Islami party, told AFP.
"It has been hijacked by multinational companies who want to promote free society culture in Pakistan. "There are other honourable ways to earn money." Festival enthusiasts call it a rare chance to step out and celebrate in a country riven by Islamic militancy, a year of anti-Christian and anti-Western terror attacks, drought, poverty and an increasingly bellicose stream of religious fundamentalism. "Let clerics do their job while we rejoice," said Nadeem Sarwar, 35, a business executive in Lahore. "It is the only colourful event that my city can boast about."
Pakistanis from across the country flock to Lahore for the festival, crowding the Islamabad to Lahore motorway to catch a glimpse of the flying paper fighting kites. Top hotels reported full bookings. "It is an event not to be missed," said Islamabad-based lawyer Waseem Ahmed, 30.
But even such a joyous festival has a dark side, as hospitals invariably are packed with kiteflyers who fell off roofs and children who were hit by cars as they ran down the streets, their faces turned towards the sky to watch the kites. Quarters of the city are plunged into darkness when razor-sharp kite cords rolled in powdered glass or made of steel cut electricity wires. "If there are 50 one-hour breakdowns, it costs us 2.5 million rupees (43,00 dollars)," lamented Lahore Electricity Supply's company chief Brig Riaz Ahmad Khan Toor.
Steel and glass-edged wires are banned but manufacturers still report roaring trade. Police have already charged 80 people for selling or using metal wire and have made several arrests, Lahore city council administrator Khalid Sultan told AFP on the eve of the festival. The skies above Islamist-ruled North West Frontier Province will be bare of kites as a drive to enforce orthodox interpretations of Islam has prompted a police crackdown on artistic expression, driving musicians and dancers out of business and putting singers in jail.
But in Lahore, the party is still a symbol for many, said Alam. "The extremists are a tiny minority in this country," he said. "That's what Basant proves."
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