WRITTEN BY CH FAISAL MAHMOOD
The Government of Punjab, in his very important first action for tourism promotion has ordered the revival of Basant Festival of Lahore. Revive it must.
Full scale revival of Lahore’s Basant Festival is owed to Lahore; it is owed to Punjab; it is owed to Pakistan. Its revival is the need of Pakistan Tourism and Pakistan’s real though clouded soft image but not on the cost of any deadly incident. The government must make adequate arrangements to avoid the use of banned cords.
The Lahore Basant had grown spontaneously and steadily since long but more visibly from the late 1980’s and the last of it was in 2009 when the physicians chose to kill the patient rather than eliminate the virus. Kite chasing frenzy among the youth and impregnated cords caused fatalities which provided the excuse which, some sections were looking for, and the very live Basant and a very real mela was banned.
Such elements will still not want it to be revived and, indeed, the Chief Minister has been told that he would be held responsible if anything goes wrong.
These elements must know that Basant is a South Asian festival from ages behind. It is an agrarian festival; it is not a religious festival. Farmers and all those attached to agriculture have all been celebrating the emergence of Spring from under the Winter. Rural men and women of all religions, be they Muslims, Sikhs or Hindus, being all equally subject to the dictates of Nature, celebrate the change – the Change which brings forth God’s bounties from the earth – the swinging wheat and the blossoming mustard.
Our Tour Operators had contributed substantially to the Festival’s worldwide acceptance as an event to be at. First the consular corps in the provincial capitals and then the diplomats from Islamabad and abroad, foreigners filled the hotels in Lahore and the city and its environs came alive with the merriment of Lahore’s zinda dil. The music, the food, the local snacks, the shopping, the snake charmers, the street acrobats and the myriad colours of kites dotting the sky were all a week long manifestation of the real Pakistan; the soft image which was spreading rather well in the first decade of our century.
Pakistan Tourism looks askance at the eminent tourism supporters and we wish them all strength to wade out of the negatives and retrieve a major image-maker for the country and employer of its human resources.£