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
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
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,"