Kalash artists attend event to observe mountain day

ISLAMABAD , Dec 11: Small groups of girls dressed in traditional outfits of Kalash danced in circles and semi-circles and delighted the audience at Lok Virsa where international mountain day was celebrated.

The event is part of the fourth Pakistan Mountain Festival, an annual advocacy and outreach festival organised by the Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) and Lok Virsa Pakistan. Dance and music performances from people of Chitral and Gilgilt-Baltistan, a live painting competition on the theme of ‘mountains and water’ and an exhibition of mountain crafts were part of the event. Close to 70 students from different universities and colleges participated in the live painting competition. Winning paintings will be a part of a calendar to be published in 2015.

As part of the exhibition, Rupani Foundation brought gemstones and jewels from upper Hunza. Jewellery made by women trained by Rupani Foundation in cutting and polishing gems, and designing jewellery was on display.

Muhammad Ikram, senior manager of the Rupani Foundation said women from remote areas often posses some unique skills in traditional arts and crafts. “Women with artistic abilities can create shapes and designs from gems that are very attractive and at the same time support their households economically” Mr Ikram said.

A day-long seminar titled ‘Challenges Confronting Mountains and Communities’ chaired by National Centre for Rural Development chairman Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir was also organised.

“The phenomenon of climate change is posing a serious threat to the ecology as well as the cultures and livelihoods of mountain communities,” he said.

Speakers said the Pakistan Mountain Festival has helped in implementing policies for the betterment of the local communities.

Munir Ahmed, Director Pakistan Mountain Festival and Devcom-Pakistan said environmental hazards in our mountain regions have direct links with poverty in the area. “We want to tackle challenges of climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, sustainable livelihood and solid waste management in Pakistan’s mountains,” he said.

“However, this requires political will, mobilization of key stakeholders, sensitisation of people and engagement of communities for reduction of their vulnerability and efficient management of natural resources,” he added.

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