Written By: Maj Wajiha Arshad
Asight to rejoice and an experience to cherish was seeing the flying horse of Pakistan hockey, our sports icon Sami Ullah Khan cheering local players in the sports gala and participating in Bahawalpur walk; local students energetically taking part in sports matches; renowned poet Syed Tabish Alvari sharing his mesmerizing poetry on a glittery mushaira night; ladies blissfully shopping from cultural stalls, and joyful youth dancing to the beats of our singing sensations, Fakhir and Aima Baig. These were the most pleasurable ten days (October 5-14) of Jashn-e-Bahawalpur organized by 31 Corps.
Bahawalpur, the largest division of Punjab, boasts a treasure of history and national heritage. Noor Mahal palace – the face of Bahawalpur – was built in 1872 like an Italian chateau on neoclassical lines. The Cholistan Desert locally known as Rohi sprawls 30 kilometers from Bahawalpur and this land of forts comprises approximately 400 forts, some dating back to 1000 BC. Such strategic geographical location and enriched history magnifies the importance of Bahawalpur to no bounds.
Bahawalpur has been the cradle of many civilizations and the epitome of antiquity. And to honor and pay tribute to this pride, a 10-day celebration of Jashn-e-Bahawalpur commenced on October 5 with the theme of promotion of national spirit and integration and social harmony through the active involvement of people from all walks of life.
Several programs were organized by 31 Corps during the festival providing an opportunity to the people to celebrate the event that began with a dazzling opening ceremony at Noor Mahal. Commander Bahawalpur Corps Lieutenant General Sher Afgun, HI (M), graced the occasion as chief guest. National and cultural songs left the audience mesmerized followed by a march past carried out by the contingents of different educational institutions, sports teams, Punjab Rangers and Pakistan Army.
The festivity right away engaged individuals of every age group and with every passing day engulfed them in different activities. A Jashn-e-Bahawalpur walk was organized in which a humungous crowd of children, women, young students as well as senior citizens participated. Presence of the tallest and shortest man of the region and pride of Pakistan hockey player Sami Ullah Khan added charm to the complete activity. Walking beside the old historic buildings of the city made us travel back in the past. The event ended with a spirited 'tug of war' match at Noor Mahal where local participation and passion displayed by participants was unprecedented.
Sports Gala was one of the most thrilling events of festival which was held from October 6 till 12. Sports competitions (cricket, hockey, tennis, volleyball, badminton and golf) were also held among the teams of Army, different educational institutions from surroundings and local clubs. Every new visitor to Bahawalpur aspires to get a chance for witnessing the mesmerizing Light and Sound Show at Noor Mahal and Darbar Mahal. Special shows were held on October 7, 8 and 13 which were made open to public, especially for students and sports teams.
The core motivation of this Jashn was pulling people out of their busy lives and providing an occasion to celebrate the privilege to be Pakistani. The festivities were spurred on by holding art and literary events which were attended by large number of students and artists. Quiz competitions buzzed an atmosphere of competitiveness among our young kids, declamation contest brought the best orators out, Mehfil-e-Mushaira satiated the literary taste of people and painting and arts exhibitions refined the knack of creativity among university students. An overwhelming participation of students and local artists made us realize that talented Pakistanis just need the right platform to hone and display their skills.
Women, being the most significant and integral part of our society, were given an open chance to enjoy their favorite sport – shopping. Cultural stalls at the exhibition emphasized the culture and history of Bahawalpur bringing highlights from inner streets of the city and providing an open opportunity to shop all at one place. Horses dancing on the dhol beats, traditional local dancers enjoying moves in colorful clothes and stunning pelicans in the lake of Gulzar-e-Sadiq (central park) left the visitors equally fascinated.
Show stealer was the star studded closing ceremony attended by a large gathering. Musical performances, motivating documentaries and spectacular fireworks marked the culmination of Jashn-e-Bahawalpur. Locals of Bahawalpur welcomed and celebrated the festival like a wave of fresh air, revitalizing and energizing them to promote national harmony.
Maj Wajiha Arshad is presently serving as Public Relations Officer Bahawalpur Corps.