The recently concluded three-day World Cultural Festival, which was held on the Yamuna floodplains, was an overwhelming experience for people from Pakistan who came to attend it.
The Pakistan chapter of the Art of Living (AOL) Foundation, which was started in 2001, has over 10,000 followers across the country.
The Pakistan contingent visited India for the first time. “No matter where we went, people wanted to take selfies with every single one of us,” said 55-year-old Shahnaz Minallah, a member of the Pakistan contingent.
The 100-member Pakistan contingent performed on contemporary sufi routine called ‘Punk Sufi’ to the tunes of Arif Lohar’s ‘Jugni ji’ on the last day of the event.
It was interspersed with poetry by Bashir Qureishi. Shahnaz Minallah said:
“We were greeted with a standing ovation and many of us had tears in our eyes. It was surreal. We got our visas at the last minute, just a day before our scheduled departure, but we were packed and ready to go.”
The performance was a tribute to the friendship between the two countries.
“I wanted to give a face to modern dance from Pakistan. For this particular event, we had original poetry by Yousaf Basheer Quershi which talks about harmony and oneness, love and peace. Legendary Kathak dancer Nighat Chaodhry choreographed the story-telling aspect by weaving the poetry with dance,” said choreographer Wahab Shah.
The contingent led by Pakistan’s youngest Member of Parliament Uzair Khan is now travelling to other parts of the country.
He said the response to the Pakistan contingent has been overwhelming and they have been able to get around without any extra security cover.
“Some of us are in Jaipur and Agra. We had a very short visa so no one wanted to miss the Taj Mahal,” added Khan.