Tuesday, February 17, 2009



Even as clouds of uncertainty over desired action on top terrorists and outfits operating from Pakistan continue between India and neighboring Pakistan, in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes, the city of Lahore, Pakistan remains unmindful of the current sling match and defies even the dictates of mullahs or Talibans for shunning Hindu lifestyles or customs, to declare to hold workshops on ‘Yoga’ and Kathak Dance .
‘Fatwas’ have been passed by various Muslim organizations banning ‘Yoga’ practice among Muslims in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world on the grounds that it contain “Hindu elements”. Similar bans have also been imposed on "Flying Kites" in Lahore on the occasion of Basant -a Hindu-Sikh festival , but nevertheless the local populace is known to have defied bans time and again in its chequered history. Throwing caution to the winds over fundamentalist dictates people of Lahore color the skyline for days with kite flying soirees that last uptil midnight , women still don sarees, wear bindis , glass bangles or apply mehandi on weddings or special occasions with aplomb despite its Hindu antecedents . The 'surprise' invitation for the month long workshop on "Yoga and Kathak" by “Nahid Siddiqui” starting from Wednesday February 18 to conclude on March 19, was sent to select few in India by “Lahore Chitrkar”—a studio - gallery and a registered non-profit, non-commercial organization founded at Gulberg locality in Lahore in 2001, by a group of painters, architects, writers, dancers and musicians where artistic skills are learned, shared and exhibited. Music classes held by the organization also include classical vocals besides Flute, Tabla, Sarangi, Sitar recitals and teaching , reminiscent of the glorious period of composite culture prevalent in pre-partition India especially during the glorious reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh when Amritsar was considered his “Spiritual Capital” and Lahore his “Cultural capital” .
The agenda of forthcoming programmes is set by Shahid Mirza and Rabia Nadir who while talking to The Pioneer from Lahore say “the organization attaches great value to awareness of our cultural heritage as a necessary part of art training valued not as convention and formula but as an artistic response .” However "Yoga" has only found space in its programmes recently with internationally renowned Kathak dancer of Lahore “Nahid ” ready to conduct “Kathak dance and yoga classes” for beginners. Nahid Siddiqui is considered in Pakistan as one of the finest Kathak dancers and choreographers and her work has been recognized and acclaimed internationally during stage presentations on touring productions, in Europe, America and Asia. Shahid says about Nahid that “It's no wonder that for this ardent Kathak exponent of several years, Yoga has been a key element of her practice, allowing her to extend the boundaries not only of her own physique, but of her art, and hence her spirit. Although known primarily for being a leading promoter of Kathak Nahid has been a practitioner and researcher of Yoga for many years, and has taught Yoga in many countries of the world receiving accolades for her work especially in Britain besides being a recipient of Pakistan's highest artistic merit". Interestingly the organization got active supported from Punjab Government (Pakistan) Department of Culture only in 2005-06 when relations with India in all spheres were at an all time high in past 60-years, besides which The Lahore School of Economics, The Hienrich Boll Foundation, Germany apart from various Foundations of Pakistan extend support to it.
The timing of the classes has come as a surprise when public opinion in Pakistan is anti-India and Pak government is hardly a willing partner in joint investigations for Mumbai and relations are set to sour between the two neighbors that are naturally reflected first and foremost in angst against perusal of arts and skills that are predominantly viewed from Hinduism in ………….eom

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