A two-day festival to pay tribute to Pashto poet and scholar Khushal Khan Khattak concluded in Akora Khattak, Nowshera on Sunday. ‘Jashan-e-Khushal’ focused on the revival of Pashto in the province.
The festival was organised after a hiatus of 27 years. Organisers were unable to hold the event for over two decades due to deteriorating law and order in the province.
“The people of this region used to celebrate a festival known as Khushal Mela or Jashan-e-Khushal since 1920,” Alamzeb, the chief organiser of the event told The Express Tribune over the telephone. “However, the spate of terrorism made it difficult for locals to celebrate this fun-filled, colourful commemoration.”
According to the chief organiser, Jashan-e-Khushal sought to revive interest in Pashto and help people understand the roots of the language in an interesting and engaging manner.
A series of poetry recitals were held on the occasion. “During these sessions, participants were asked to recite poems by Khushal Khan Khattak,” Alamzeb said.
Painting competitions were also held at the festival. Students of various colleges and universities participated. “Abid Kamal won first prize in the painting contest,” Alamzeb said. “Nayab Gul won the glass painting competition.” A large number of Pashto artistes also sang on the occasion.
“The performances of singers like Zeek Afridi and Arshad Hussain caught the attention of many who attended,” he said. Many traditional games, including tug of war, were also played at the festival.
An inspired debate
The two-day event heightened awareness about the Pashto poet and encouraged people to come together and discuss the merits of his work. A majority of people who took out time to attend the festival over the weekend found it was worth attending.
Laila, who participated in the poetry competition, told The Express Tribune over the telephone it was important to remember those poets and litterateurs who have left an indelible mark on Pashto literature.
“It is heartening to see how we have made the effort to revisit a legendary poet in the hope of keeping the spirit of his work alive,” she said.
Hina, who participated in the painting competition, said she made a portrait of Khushal Khan. “He was our leader and our poet,” she said. “My work is small token of gratitude for all that he has given the region.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2016.