In last six years, only Usman Buzdar could arrange Lahore Horse and Cattle Show

Picture source - Xinhua

This year, too, Lahore has responded to the call of spring with a variety of Jashan-e-Baharan (spring festival) events.

According to Lahore Arts Council Executive Director Nazia Jabeen, the event used to be a celebration of spring and the beauty of Lahore’s parks and gardens.

The festival this year offers a variety of activities, such as musical concerts, literary and cultural events, food booths, flower exhibits, and art and craft exhibitions.

Every year in Lahore, usually in February or March, the Lahore Spring Festival is held.

The festival has gained prominence recently and established itself as a key occasion on Lahore’s cultural calendar. It draws visitors and people from all over the nation and the world who come to take in the celebrations and Lahore’s lovely gardens and parks.

Muhammad Azam, who travelled from Muzaffargarh to view a sound and light performance at the Lahore Fort, stated that the Lahore-Multan motorway makes it possible for people to visit Lahore on weekends to take part in the festival.

The festival’s distinctive feature this year, according to Punjab Information Secretary Ali Nawaz Malik, is that it is entirely sponsored from March 5 till it ends on March 12.

The festival included: Food and Artisan Mela at Race Course Park from March 5 to 12;  Lucky Irani Circus at Greater Iqbal Park from March 5 to 12; Women’s on Wheels at Liberty on March 8; Women Mushaira on March 8 at Alhamra; Mahafil Samaa at the shrines of Data Sahib, Mian Mir and Madhu Lal Husain and mausoleum of Dr Iqbal from March 5 to 12; stage play Sarhay 14 August by Anwar Maqsood at Alhamra from March 5 to 12; Laser and Light Show at Lahore Fort from March 5 to 12, Rsutum-e-Punjab Dangal at Punjab Stadium on March 10, Tour de Cycle (43km) on March 7; Lahore Marathon on March 12, illumination of majors roads from March 5 to 19; Digital Journey to the Making of Pakistan at National History Museum from March 5 to 12; Punjabi Folk Music Shows at Race Course Park from March 5 to 12; Band Carnival on Lahore’s major roads with floats and double-decker bus; Canal Mela on Canal Road from March 5 to 12; Music Concerts at Hockey Stadium on March 11 and 12; and Sada Bahar (tribute to local heroes) at Hazuri Bagh on March 10.

“The festival’s event schedule demonstrates its diversity. Apart from traditional Punjabi dance displays, the event also includes musical performances by regional and worldwide performers, including Qawwali and Sufi music. Also, there are food stands that provide both foreign and traditional Pakistani fare, according to Information Secretary Ali Nawaz Malik.

Muhammad Ali Randhawa, the commissioner, has been closely monitoring the festival.

He says that he has asked the diplomats stationed in Lahore to join the activities in order to make the most of the celebration.

Iranian, American, Chinese, Turkish, and other diplomats have graced various events, particularly the Race Course Park flower exhibition.

One of the festival’s highlights is the display of tens of thousands of flowers in the city’s parks and gardens, including tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. Jilani Park, Shalimar Gardens, and Lawrence Gardens host the festival’s centrepiece, the flower shows.

The festival’s preparations have had ups and downs. When temporary chief minister Mohsin Naqvi announced the festival’s staging together with the horse and cattle exhibition, all through sponsors, the plan got off to an explosive start.

Contrary to last year, when Usman Buzdar’s administration held the traditional Lahore Horse and Cattle Show after a six-year absence, the caretaker administration was compelled to cancel the occasion because to “security” and a lack of sponsorship issues.

The traditional mela has been cancelled in recent years for various reasons. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on public events around the world, including the Lahore Horse and Cattle Show. In 2020, the show was cancelled due to the pandemic, which had caused widespread illness and deaths in Pakistan. The 2021 show was also cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic and restrictions on public gatherings. Earlier, security was an issue when Lahore experienced several terrorist attacks, which raised concerns about the security of public events such as the Horse and Cattle Show. In 2017, the show was cancelled due to security concerns, following a deadly suicide bombing in the city. In 2018, the Horse and Cattle Show was cancelled due to administrative issues and a lack of funding. The Livestock and Dairy Development Department of the Government of Punjab, which organizes the show, reportedly faced financial difficulties that year, which led to the cancellation of the event. The show requires a large amount of infrastructure, including stables, show rings, and exhibition halls. In some years, the show has been cancelled due to a lack of suitable facilities. For example, in 2019, the show was cancelled due to the unavailability of the Lahore Race Club, which is a key venue for equestrian events.

When there was no official spring festival, the Lahore people would welcome the spring with the kite festival – Basant.

After the Supreme Court banned the deadly sport, the government found other avenues to revive the festival.

“In the absence of Basant, the spring festival is a welcome celebration of the beauty of Lahore and the arrival of spring. It is a vibrant and colourful event that showcases the rich culture and traditions of Pakistan, and is enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds,” says Nazia Jabeen.