Islamabad – Travelling around the world to get familiar with the culture of different people has remained a century’s old tradition but in the heart of capital city, Baloch culture has made a journey and captured the spotlight.

“I faced indefinite problems in brining Baloch folk art around 900km away from the province but my commitment and love for the country helped me in standing against all odds,” said Akhtar Chanal.

Akhtar Chanal is a famous folk singer from Balochistan who stepped into singing in 1964 and earned half dozen awards in his career including the Pride of Performance.

“Two years back in 2014, I decided to introduce culture of my province in the federal capital and get a shop in the Lok Virsa,” he said.

Middle aged artist from Qilat informed The Nation that when he reached Lok Virsa with this idea then all shops here were deserted and very few corners were operational.

“I remained alone in the shop for days and months in the beginning with all artefacts in the shop, though it was difficult to manage my investment on all material but I remained determined not to leave the place,” said Chanal.  Chanal’s Baloch corner is filled with multiple handicrafts made in different areas of the province. These handicrafts include Baloch carpets, vests, jewellery, dresses, wall hangings, Dem Pul, Shofi, Tupper and embroidery.  But, a traditional tent called ‘Gidaan’ in local language and a statue of a camel placed in front of the shop is most striking for the visitors at Lok Virsa.

People wait for their term to get chance to enter the Gidan and have a photograph while sitting inside it. Meanwhile children love to get a ride on the sitting camel statue.

“Gidan is a strange thing for people and they don’t know about it and we inform them about the use of it back in the province where it is the part of Baloch tribal culture,” Chanal said. All the material in the shop costs more than Rs 300, 000 while around Rs 25000 were spent on preparing the Gidan. According to Akhtar, it took months to prepare all these things displayed in the shop while transporting this material from Balochistan was also not an easy task.

“All the persons involved in preparing this material in Balochistan are paid against their effort,” Akhtar said.

Replying to the query he replied that sale of items cannot cover the expenses held on the corner and I am bearing mostly operating cost from my own pocket. “We belong from the edge of the country and have sacrificed for promoting this culture but never thought to windup this setup only on the basis of profit and loss,” he said.

He said due to his busy schedule the shop is run by his nephew because he has to visit different corners of the world for musical performance. Akhtar stated that biggest response of his effort in the federal capital was the love of people which they give to him and the Baloch culture.

“People here love Balochistan and want to know about life of people there and we here sit to tell him about our province and way of life of our people,” he said.

Meanwhile, an official from Lok Virsa talking to The Nation said that Akthar Chanal was allotted the shop back in 2014 and he has contributed to promote the culture of Balochistan here with dedication.

“Balochistan has a rich culture and Lok Virsa try to accommodate Baloch culture representatives as much as it can,” he said.

According to him administration of Lok Virsa also tries to relax the criteria for the neglected areas and communities while no utility charges are being taken from Chanal.

“People show their interest in getting information about the artefacts of Balochistan and the Lok Mela held last year was glittered because of performances of Baloch artists,” he said.

Meanwhile, Akthar Chanal said that he didn’t came and took this place to earn business only, as the major reason in his entire life has remained to take the culture of his province to every corner of the world.“I am happy with the love which people give me and at this is all my profit,” he said.

Source: The Nation


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