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Gandhara Festival Kicks Off with Fanfare in Khanpur

July 18, 2023

KHANPUR: The first Gandhara festival, which began on Sunday at Gandhara art hamlet near Khanpur, captivated attendees with live performances by a Swiss artist, Buddhist folk singers from Sindh, famed folk singer Sain Zahoor, and dhamal with dholl by local artists.

Local sculptors, stone carvers, and artists have also set up shop there. With performances by prominent musicians from both countries, including Wajih Nizami, Markus Hauser, and Loris Peloso, the event presents a blend of traditional music from Pakistan and Switzerland.

Speaking at the occasion, Punjab Arts Council Director General Mohammad Mehboob Alam stated that the government placed a high premium on the promotion of culture and that the recent ratification of the province’s first cultural policy was a result of the efforts of the Punjab Arts Council.

Along with Gandhara, he continued, the Punjab Arts Council would host festivals dedicated to the cultures of Cholistan’s Harappa, Sindhi, and Hakra peoples. He stated that all other city districts will also host cultural fairs.

According to Zaildar Ahsan Shah, the head of the Pakistan-Romania Friendship Association, Pakistan has a rich cultural past that spans thousands of years and is the birthplace of the Gandhara civilization.

He believed that this kind of gathering would be crucial for promoting both the soft image of the nation as well as local art. He claimed that whereas most regions and cities throughout the globe only had one significant historical or cultural site, Khanpur was fortunate with more than 30 ancient cities that are all included on the Unesco World Cultural Heritage List.

According to Dr. Bashah Sardar, a professor at Allama Iqbal Open University in Islamabad’s Department of Pakistan Studies, Pakistan is the birthplace of the magnificent Gandhara culture and the Gandhara Buddhist civilization. 

He claimed that while Ashtadhyayi lived and taught at Khanpur University, the great Sanskrit grammarian Panini, who wrote a well-known book on Sanskrit grammar, used to instruct here. Another alumnus was Charaka, a doctor regarded as the founding father of Indian medicine for his role in the establishment of Ayurveda.

While Acharya Chanakya, better known as Kautilya, the renowned political philosopher, thinker, and royal advisor, was the most significant professor at the university.

Khalid Tamour Akbar, the chief guest and executive director of the Pakistan Research Centre for a Community with Shared Future, noted that Khanpur once served as the birthplace of the Gandhara civilization and was renowned as a center of learning for sculpture and art, architecture, education, medicine, and religion. 

It also housed one of the first universities officially recognized by the international community. Khanpur still has the same geostrategic significance as it did in the past. According to him, Khanpur was once a stop along the Silk Route and is now along the CPEC route. Such activities will promote Khanpur’s rich cultural legacy both strategically and culturally significant.

He emphasized the importance of promoting religious tourism globally by showcasing Pakistan’s Buddhist and Gandharan history.

Our Featured Article:

Read More: Gandhara Civilization | Unveiling the Legacy Buried in Time

Read More: The Beauty and Mystery of Gandhara Art | Gandhara Civilization

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