How we are Losing our Cultural Identity
Yesterday, I went through an appeal for donations in Dawn by Hassan Zaidi, the founder of KaraFilm. Mr. Zaidi has been instrumental in bringing international spotlight and global taste to Karachi in the form of Pakistan’s largest film festival which grew bigger and better each year until two years back. The security situation in Karachi had resulted in postponement of the event for two consecutive years while 2009 brought with it the worst of economic recessions to blame.
KaraFilm is not alone here; in Lahore, Peer Festivals’ much celebrated World Performing Arts Festival was blatantly sabotaged in 2008 when suspected blasts occurred at the venue of the event.
But the question is, is the security situation or availability of corporate sponsorships to be blamed alone? Isn’t our love for arts, culture, literature and our own aesthetic identity fading away. What was the last time you went out alone, or with your friends or family to an art exhibition, a lok virsa show or to any of the Alhamra concerts on ethnic music?
If we look around our immediate surroundings, and closely observe our collective pshyche, it would not be worng to say that we are rapidly loosing the artistic thought, the softer brain and the very essence of cultural identity. Today, the only entertainment considered entertainment is a Bollywood movie screening (at cinema or at home), a ‘western’ rock concert or in majority of the public’s case; cheap and vulgar theatre.
We may not realize this now, but in due time this realization will come and hit us hard when the damage to our unique cultural identity and the youth’s attitude towards it will be irreparable. And that would happen even without the help of extremist ideologies whether they be from the mullahs or the government.
We’ll lose it and never know when it happened unless our common perspective towards arts and culture changes; unless parents don’t feel undermined of their investment in children who opt for arts; unless we change our attitudes towards everything local and unless we do not support the only catalysts of revival i.e. our local artistes, the lok-musicians, the artisans and the craftsmen of our rich cultural heritage that spans over more than a couple of thousand years as well as welcoming and embracing international flavors in contemporary arts, theatre, music and film.