Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Security fear dampens Spring Festival

Sarfraz Ali

LAHORE - The prevailing security situation in the country has compelled the government to cancel a number of programmes in connection with Spring celebrations. The programmes which were arranged this year included Canal Festival and various other cultural events which were held at Alhamra Cultural Complex and Alhamra Art Centre, Open theatre, Race Course Park Polo Ground and PHA outlets.
The public participation, however, remained minimal as people showed scant interest in these events; partly for fear of terrorism and partly in mourning of the loss of life and property which was witnessed in RA Bazaar, Model Town, Iqbal Town incidents. The authorities had been expecting huge gatherings but the public response was dismal. The people showed no interest in the Lahore Canal decoration ceremony.
Sources at PHA said that the Authority had planned to hold spring festivity 'Jashn-e-Baharan", without giving much attention to these premonitions but the government barred them from materialising the idea to avoid any untoward incident.
It may be noted that during present year, there has been no and there is least likelihood of the holding of the March 23 Parade, which has been country's tradition. The 23rd March event at Islamabad has also been cancelled, so are the events that stand cancelled in provincial metropolis. The Punjab Government has already closed down the Food Streets of Gowalmandi and Anarkali.
It is pertinent to be mention here that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had to cancel his visit to Horse and Tattoo Show last Sunday due to ongoing uncertain security situation.
Even the administration of the Horse and Tattoo Show had to cut short the event following the series of bomb blasts in Lahore. The ban on Basant, the once-popular kite-flying festival of the country is also in doldrums due to political tussle between two schools of thought in the country i.e. the fun loving liberals and the conservatives.
One can also take stock of the situation from the response which the Bollywood blockbuster 'My Name is Khan' received among Lahore audience. The film attracted thin number of spectators due to ongoing wave of terrorism.
Every year, the Lahore Festival runs from 1st March which includes many recreational programmes for children; a dog show, a cricket match between lawmakers and film actors, another cricket match for the visually impaired, flower-arranging contests, poetry readings, and face-painting and heena contests.
A folk-dance show, release of birds and balloons used to be among feature attractions of the festivity.
Pakistan Army Band and other groups used to arrange concert, folk dances, tent pegging, a cart-race, a mascot parade and derby races. Festivities went on throughout the night, capped by fireworks. It is yet to be seen as to how long would it take before the Pakistanis in general and Lahoriites in particulars would be celebrating the advent of the summer season with traditional zest.
This news article has also been published in daily ‘The Nation”.


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