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Protect SAARC's shared cultural identity: Writer

Friday September 30, 2011 06:55:35 AM, IANS

Agra: India and the other countries belonging to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) should conserve and project their shared centuries-old civilisation, noted writer Ajeet Cour said Thursday.

"What unites the eight member countries of SAARC is the common cultural heritage and the centuries-old civilisational roots. We need to conserve and promote these common features to bridge the gaps and cement our relations for the prosperity of the region," Cour told IANS here.

Cour is the president of FOSWAL (Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature), which is organising a four-day SAARC folklore and heritage festival here from Friday.

Scholars from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, would be discussing latest literary trends and cultural streams.

Cour added: "If one drew a line from Afghanistan to Bhutan and another from Kashmir to Sri Lanka and Maldives, one finds that there is no break in communication between any two contiguous points. Communication breaks down only on extreme points of the scale. The break in communication can only be political and not cultural."

It's the Indus Valley civilisation that defines our roots and identity, she added.

SAARC's identity emnates from its rich cultural folklore comprising a universe of folk tales, songs, dances, fables, cosmologies, traditional theatre, grandmothers' tales, arts and crafts, Caur said.

"These age-old historical memories are not only alive and vibrant, their sensitivity and rhythm weave a unique kaleidoscopic pattern which is a silent symphony of our lives," she told IANS.

She said SAARC was perhaps the only region in the world where people celebrated love and marriages, pregnancies, childbirths, even deaths with songs.

"We have songs for the changing seasons, for harvests and for monsoons. We, the people of the SAARC region have been the original environmentalists since Indus Valley civilisation," Caur added.

Why a festival of folklore?

"Because the contemporary literature and research and cultural programmes focus on the elite and the intelligentsia, ignoring largely the voice of the masses which can be heard and understood through oral traditions of folklore and folk songs which are lying at the root of historical and cultural memories of the societies of the region.

"We need to rekindle the new spirit of SAARC and this event will be a unique forum for providing a platform to share, exchange and present the multi-faceted dimensions of culture of the masses," she said.








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