Lahooti Melo –Celebrating the Soul and Stories of the Indus Valley
How do you talk about solutions and way forward for people rather than talking only about failures?
How do you talk about climate change without actually talking about climate change?
How do you talk about uncomfortable truths without really sounding them out loud?
Simple: you tell stories via music, art and culture.
Now add the complexity of music-without-audience due to social distancing, SoPs and COVID-19, solution is again simple: go digital!
This is exactly what Sketches (a Jamshoro based Sufi folk rock music band) did. Their humble rooftop music jamming session ‘Lahooti Melo’ in the last few years had evolved into a national festival dedicated to the experimental fusion of indigenous, Sufi and rock music. Gradually the festival also incorporated insightful discussions and dialogues between experts and active citizens on socioeconomic issues.
Our aim is to shed light on untold features of Indus Valley, but it would not be restrained to just music, but its culture, food, dance, traditions, the people, and most importantly their stories
The change in the format from in-person to digital proved to be a blessing in disguise and the digital edition of the annual festival increased its outreach massively. From the suburbs of Jamshoro (150 km north of the port city of Karachi, on the right bank of river Indus) to totally on Youtube, Twitter, Instagram; from a big stage in front of an in person audience of thousands to a small recording but artfully decorated studio reaching millions.
For some of the humble local folk musicians, indigenous artists, Sufi singers it was unsettling yet exhilarating at the same time as they had never seen the inside of a recording studio ever! They felt liberated. They were able to sing and narrate their powerful stories connecting with the River Indus - a home to a variety of cultures, and diverse socio-political expressions that streaming to enlighten millions of people living across its waters from the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea.
“COVID has affected us all & for the artist community it’s been rough time both emotionally & financially. They haven’t been able to get their voices heard. As artistes + music lovers we all needed a string of hope that keeps us balanced. That string of hope is #LahootiMeloDE”
Why River Indus?
Pakistan is home to one of the oldest human civilizations of the world – the Indus Valley Civilization – that dated back in history from 2500 BC till 17 BC. This much-enriched cultural heritage has left remarkable and extensive footprints, which can be traced all along the Indus River – Yes the same mighty Indus River that flows from the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea. The River Indus (also known as ‘The Sindhu River’) has not only been flowing to cultivate its subjective lands, but also to nurture a civilization and along with it carry numerous stories of generations.
The Indus River is the biggest river system of Pakistan, it serves as a key water supply and center of socioeconomic life of the country. It has deeply touched the lifestyle and cultural norms of the communities’ banks around its waters. The Indus River and its major tributaries hold a unique essence of diversity and inclusivity with its dozens of cultural and musical features encompassing a distinct treasure of languages, symphonies, folk wisdom, and insignia of human life, polity, and exceptional existence in the entire region. This very feature has been missing whenever the global media discuss Pakistan and the geography home of the Indus Valley Civilization.
Rivers and Diversity: Connecting the dots
Politically and administratively, Pakistan is a federal state representing a unique cluster of provincial and semi-autonomous units, primarily entitled to promote and practice their distinct cultures and traditions with the federal structure. The Constitution of Pakistan while defining its federal administrative structure provides a constitutional guarantee to this very multicultural heritage legacy of the country. Article 28 of the Constitution ensures the “right of preservation and promotion of language, script and culture”. In addition, the same article allows linguistic and cultural communities to establish their institutions to promote and educate their children and other communities.
In 2020, FNF Pakistan produced a composition of articles based on a series of digital talks with subject experts. The talks underlined and highlighted the federal polity of Pakistan and its cultural federalism, which encapsulate an ancient legacy of the distinctive concept of being united in diversity. This very publication provided a common ground to collaborate with the Lahooti Melo. This combination aimed to project and promote our the concept of unity in diversity with linkages of Indus River civilization emerged as an inspirational idea highlighting diversity as a source of unity for various communities despite their linguistic, cultural and dogmatic difference.
This opportunity also enabled FNF to display our project and reinforce our campaign for Unity in Diversity through subject experts’ panel talks featuring the political and sociocultural challenges of the citizens.