Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

Oh Okara

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The agricultural city derives its name from a tree known as 'Okaan'. During British period once Lahore - Multan railway line was being laid, there was a jungle of Okaan at this place, hence the name. Few van (salvadora) trees - at the verge of extinction are also found in this part of the country. At the time of partition, one out of two textile mills that came as the share of Pakistan is in Okara. The city was declared district headquarters in 1982.

In 1930, Okara was famous agricultural market in the area. Presently, the Sabzi Mandi (fruit and vegetable market) handles sale of largest quantity of potatoes than any other market in the country. Muhammad Sarwar who is an arhti in Sabzi Mandi says, "Even the sheds are not being constructed.” The committee has engaged only four ill-equipped sanitary workers for cleaning the market premises. We have employed our own sweepers and watchmen". Similarly, the Grain Market (with eight gates) is also situated in the city. It does not have any drainage system and water keeps on standing in the form of ponds.

But, the city now lacks grace. Keeping the sources of pollution in view, vehicles remain the second biggest pollutants in the world. The heavy traffic on the National Highway passing through thickly populated urban areas of Okara emits poisonous smoke and the air. In addition over 29000 rickshaws, wagons, buses, and trucks registered with traffic authorities are also plying in the city.

The city situated astride the busiest national highway faces a severe pollution problem. Karachi - Peshawar main railway line also passes through the city. Besides goods' trains 24 electric powered passenger trains pass over the main line daily.

Completion of Jinnah Park was very festive for the residents of Okara but now it gives a repulsive look rather than that of a recreational place. On entering the majestic gate one realizes that the park is not being maintained. Result: polythene bags and wrappers are scattered everywhere, the grass has never been mowed, there are no flowers, and benches are broken and dusty.

A rehriwalla who sells 'Dahi Bhallay' in front of the park says, "on the average, I used to do the business worth rupees 1500/- per day when the park was newly completed and all the lantern shaped lights were illuminating but now my sale has reduced to mere four to five hundred rupees a day. No body comes here after the last light".

Socially Okara is not very lively place. People (who can afford) go to Lahore to celebrate the 'seasons'. Yet it is the only district headquarters in Punjab to have its own Arts Council. As per the law the Arts Councils are supposed to be in divisional Headquarters and Okara falls under Lahore division, thanks to one of the ex Chief Ministers Punjab who belongs to the area.

"All the great issues of small city remain unresolved and limited public resources are being sanctioned for mere show, without any love for the land, "says a social activist Zulfiqar Bajwa. " There is no single authority to oversee the growth of the city having excellent rail and road links with the rest of the country and ideally suited for live stock production and agronomic industries, "he says.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:24 AM, ,

Thatta Kedona Paper Cut Frames

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:11 PM, ,

With Thatta Kedona

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A lot is happening at the Thatta Ghulamka Dgeroka – the dolls village - this season. Dr. Norbert Pintsch is in the Village and busy in creating awareness about the eco friendly and rural based low cost project among youth. Students from LUMS have already visited the Village and spent a useful day there rediscovering the rural culture and mixing up with village folks there learning about rural culture and life style there. Students from other universities are also planning to visit the village and spend time there. At the same time, Ammir Rafiuq was there  for distribution of books among students of the two government schools in the village. Shakeel is busy in finalizing kite project while Mud Hut another location in Lahore is coming up. Thatta TV Radio is recording interviews  with guests that will be on air later this season.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 3:04 PM, ,

Mud Housing Project

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Peersada brothers with Tikedar (contractor) Iqbal from Harappa

Years ago, SPARC had taken up the initiative to refresh the importance of mud as construction material and to sensitize the general public in this respect. Currently, the Mud Housing Project is being implemented by SPARC in Lahore.

Mud is not a construction material of the past; only steel, concrete and bricks have pushed back such useful construction material, (this is a story in itself.) Considering the enormous costs of cooling and heating the current form of buildings, it becomes quite clear that mud is environmentally friendly, energy efficient and biologically far superior than any other construction material.

In order to realize the initiative, SPARC was successful in arranging foreign support as well as a local architect, who is working since the year 2000 in South Western Punjab, and together with DGFK (German Society for the Advancement of Culture, Berlin), it has been giving prizes under the Preservation of Cutural Heritage program for the best maintained Mud House, Brick House and the most interesting Design.

Now in the realization phase of the initiative, it was important to gather financial and organizational support as well as participants open to new ideas, which was made easier through provision of land by the Peerzada Group near their cultural complex. The planned mud rooms are to be used by the handicraft workers as sleeping quarters in the night while they work in Workshops during the day.

Example of appropriate technology (solar cooker) will also be available for demonstration purpose and in order to be independant of the public technical infrastructure.

This combination was also greeted by the universities Punjab University, COMSATS and BNU, who find it useful for involvement of students in practical projects like construction and physical measurements that are part of the Mud Housing Project.

Generally speaking, the Mud Housing Project comes at a time of extreme flooding misery around the River Indus and therefore unintended becomes current in its own right. There are, however no demonstrated examples of the concept, which can contribute to experience and which can be adjusted for example for usage in the crisis regions.

The initiative described above is small, but it has a large potential: Help in the Indus Basin flood hit areas is of course a priority, but the construction methods in the urban areas are to be examined closely in terms of energy consumption. Mud housing is normally ground floor construction, but there are also interesting mud house examples in double story construction. A project of experimental construction is therefore required for a more exact evaluation and experimentation of this and other aspects of mud housing.

Related: Mud Housing Project

posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:14 AM, ,

Celebrating 18 years of traditions

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I am glad to be a small part of beautiful tradition of one child one tree being practices by Thatta Kedona in remote Punjab village Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka (aka Dolls' Village) located at the bank of River Ravi near Gogera. The NGO AFA presents one fruit tree on the birth of a baby and one flower tree on a wedding. Results: almost every household in Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka has a fruit and flower tree in their yards (in addition to their own kitchen garden). And it looks so good; refreshing.

This year the beautiful ceremony of handing over fruit and flower trees and celebration of 18 years of tradition was held in BHU on March 25, 2011. Here are some of the images of the event. Everyone missed Dr. Senta Siller, the originator of the tradition, who could come due to her engagements in Germany. Thanks to Dr. Norbert Pintsch who is still carrying on the work and traditions in the village.[X-posted from Light Within]

Related: One baby one tree 2010

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4:18 PM, ,

Ceramic Master of Thatta Kedona

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Monika Kuppler conducts Pottery and Ceramic Workshop in Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:48 AM, ,

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