Islamabad - As the 10-day Lok Mela at Shakarparian is under way, Punjab Pavilion offers the visitors with wide range of colourful and dazzling crafts with vibrant and energetic traditional folk music of the area.

The Punjab Pavilion is truly a window to the cultural diversity that exists in the land of the five rivers keeping the spirit of fanfare and festivity and depicting the indigenous folk culture, arts, crafts, traditional cuisine, folk music and folk entertainment.

In the Punjab pavilion, which is a replica of one of the architectural monuments of the province, the visitors are welcomed by different stalls decorated with the master work of craftsmen and craftswomen. Through these artisans the centuries old traditional crafts of the Punjab have been surviving.

The first stall, which gets visitors’ attraction, is allotted to Kaneez Fatima, 55, master craftswoman of basketry from Shah Jewna, Jhang. Being expert in basket-weaving, she also weaves many colourful items like changer, hand-fans, women’s footwear, chhaaj (grain separator), etc. She has also been participating in the artisans-at-work festival organized by the Lok Virsa for many years. Despite her old age and poor eyesight, she is carrying on this difficult task.

In another stall Tahira and Uzma are found busy making beautiful embroideries to be used for women dresses. Suraya from Karror Pacca makes traditional ‘chunri’ (tie and dye work) with its tiny details and dark colours like maroon, green, yellow and red.

Male artisans in the Punjab Pavilion proved their mettle by creating equally exquisite handicrafts. The crafts on display are bone work, lacquer art (jundri ka kaam), Multani blue tiles, tie and dye, bock printing, wood carving, darree (bedsheet) weaving, khaddar weaving, basketry, pottery, embroidery, zardozi, metal work, block printing, camel bone carving, khussa (shoe) making, etc.

Ameer Bukhsh is an expert in natural dyes. The ancient art of wooden block making has its centres in the lower Indus Valley encompassing southern Punjab and all of Sindh. For printing, printer dips the block in natural vegetable and mineral dyes and presses the design onto the fabric. Ameer Bukhsh has not only trained his family members but also imparted training to many artisans in other crafts of textile. He also represented Pakistan in the International Indigo Workshop organized by the World Crafts Council in Thailand in 1998. A performance pit has been created in the centre of the Punjab Pavilion. Folk singers and musicians entertain the visitors throughout the day with the loud beating of the ‘dholki’ (drum) in their gaudiest costumes, which is the characteristic of Punjabi traditions. Fazal Jat, son of the famous folk artist Ashiq Jat, along with his team, performs legendary folk love story ‘Dulla Bhatti’ at nighttime which is usually admired by the visitors.