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.

3 Comments so far

  1. Asim.Net.Pk (asim) on January 24th, 2009 @ 10:20 pm

    Its true that we are loosing cultural values but its difficult to maintain
    such values when difficult to survive daily life of hardship without light
    and less money. Once people have time to rest to think then someone will be
    soft hearted and think about cultural values.
    Its fast moving world, we dont have time to think:) thats why restlessness
    Media is open market, no cultural boundaries, thats why we follow others
    and loosing own identities

  2. mk4peace on January 25th, 2009 @ 8:20 am

    I strongly believe that the media is doing all the damage. Too much of Indian influence. Even our cartoons are not in our language. Hindi is prevalent in them. Our kids are learning it. Our adults are too. Too much exposure to the non pakistani things. Fashion, clubs, tv serials u name it. It’s all damaging. Fix the media..what happened to good old Pakistani values and what we really are.

  3. Global Voices Online » Pakistan: Where Is The Love For Culture? (pingback) on January 27th, 2009 @ 3:12 am

    […] Mubarak at Lahore Metblogs opines that Pakistanis are losing their cultural identity: “Isn’t our love for arts, culture, […]

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