Faizan Javed


Folk puppetry has deep and historic roots in this region. Dating back centuries, folk puppetry became a major component in the courts of Mughal King Akbar and as such the tales tell the history of the land. The Annual Folk Puppet Festival that began on Friday will continue till Saturday at Rafi Peer Cultural Centre, Raiwind Road, Lahore.

The festival held under the aegis of Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop celebrates folk arts, crafts and culture from around the country. This Year RPTW welcomes winter with a colourful line up puppetry, music and dance performances and exhibition of diverse indigenous arts and crafts from around the world. Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop is a unique cultural organization whose history of promoting the performing arts spans for more than three decades.

Puppeteers Bahadar Ali, Bashar Dhamali, Abdul Aziz, Abid Ali, Muhammad Jamil and Muhammad Bashir showcased their art to the audience along with Pakistan National Council of Arts, Alhamra Puppet Theatre and Asghar Bahawalpuri also making presentations.

A colourful parade of mascots, horses and camel dances and traditional dances added life to the festival.

A number of traditional puppets from the Museum of Puppetry also attracted the visitors largely comprising students and people related to the art of puppetry. Watching the puppeteers perform together delighted the audience. The RPTW has served as a kind of nucleus to the entire trend of contemporizing puppetry in the country. Talking to this scribe Tasneem Peerzada said traditional folk puppetry is a dying art in Pakistan. “Every festival organised has a positive cause. If we go 40 years back puppeteers used to come at home and tell people today we are going to perform at your place. It used to be very interesting. These projects were organized by Faizan Peerzada, who began his journey with puppets in the 70’s in Karachi. His passion led him to become the face of modern puppetry in Pakistan.

Krshan Lal Bheel religious singer from Cholistan said, “We are singing bhajan since 1977 in Radio Pakistan Bahawalpur. Bajan Singing is part of our culture but unfortunately we are unaware of it. The media should highlight such festivals. So, that people living in Pakistan should listen to this music and promote it,” he said.

Today is the last day to experience the heritage of puppetry at the festival. It is a rare treat for the children as they should know about the beautiful art of storytelling through performance of puppets.