Asia Calling, Bamiyan - Hundreds of people have gathered in front of the giant Buddha statue in field of Bamiyan. With the lights on, you can see the image of the statues through 3-D light projection. The actual statues were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, deemed un-Islamic.
“I could only imagine how great was the ancient period, and I’m really touched,” said Muhammad Ariful Islam from Bangladesh, amazed.
This is the Bamiyan Festival… held in Bamiyan valley, famous for its snowy mountains and natural scenery. The festival was recently held in Afghanistan for five days, with cultural programs, film and food, drawing hundreds of visitors. The bazaar is filled with music, films, local food, and handicrafts.
Tanezja Mojen is a painter from Bhutan. She has painted the natural beauty of Bamiyan along with Afghan artists. This is her first time in Bamiyan.
“Having the chance to interact with great artists from South Asia is a big opportunity. I can learn many things from different artists here,” she said.
There’s also food festival here, serving 23 kinds of Bamiyan local food. Local cook, Ghulam Riza, explained “My group is cooking around 19 kinds of Bamiyan local food. Everything is on the table. Guests can take whatever they want!”
Head of the Bamiyan Culture Department Kabeer Dadras Bamiyan has high hopes for the event. “We want to rebuild Afghanistan’s traditions and culture that were damaged during the civil war.,” he said.
Located in the central highlands of the Afghanistan, Bamiyan is rich in cultural heritage – influenced by Greek and Buddhist cultures. But the Taliban destroyed many sites they considered un-Islamic.
Last June, the South Asian Association for Regional Corporation (SAARC) named Bamiyan as a cultural capital in South Asia.
Wasnathe Kotuwella from SAARC explains, “When we’re in the process of selecting a cultural capital, we did research by visiting so many places. But when we came to Afghanistan for the first time, we visited Bamiyan city, we knew that this has rich ancient cultural value.”
The Afghan government has been trying to restore the region’s former glory. Kotuwella believes the Bamiyan festival can help to improve the relationship between South Asian countries.
“Big conferences and big talks will not improve relationships, but this kind of art activity can change attitudes and how the world sees your country,” he said.
The Bamiyan officials are ready to launch more festivals in the province in the years.
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