• Introduction
  • Karavan SeaKarnival Parade by Shanaz Ramzi

Introduction

The Karavan Sea Karnival Parade was held with great fanfare on Sunday January 19, 2003 at Beach Avenue, DHA 5.

Both Governor Sindh and Chief Minister Sindh attended as chief guests and reinforced the Karavan slogan of “My Karachi: City of Quaid, City of Peace” by vowing to bring peace to the city and the province.

Karachiites flocked to witness the Karavan extravaganza which consisted of floats from Sindh Districts and Karachi Towns, Army, Navy and Police bands along with colourful bands of over 25 schools.

The parade was accompanied by folk musicians and dancers who enthralled the audience. 6 special stages were erected on which performances by special, private and government schools were held along with puppet and muppet shows.

Later in the evening the stages were taken over by pop bands and folk singers, who performed until late in the evening.

The one-km long mural by over 3,000 school children, which embodies their dreams about their city, was viewed by over 50,000 people from all walks of life.

To get the full flavour of this event read on ……….

Karavan Sea Karnival Parade 2003
by Shanaz Ramzi

For the last two years a group of dedicated professionals has donated time and energy to the cultural, social and economic rejuvenation of Karachi. The year 2001 had seen a large number of streetfests outside heritage sites and a month-long celebration in September, which had included a carnival parade in the precincts of the Quaid’s mazar. Last year, among other activities, Karavan PSO Roadsense programmes were held practically every month to inculcate road safety sense in school children. But none of these very appreciated efforts came anything close to their latest and mega venture, the Karavan SeaKarnival Parade.

Held at Beach Avenue, popularly referred to as SeaView, the event was one of its kind, never witnessed before in Karachi. Celebrating the city’s greatest asset, the sea, the organisers went all out to hold a mega public event at the seafront in which dignitaries, celebrities, school children, families and the man-on-the-street participated with great gusto and without any safety concerns. Karavan’s motto, ‘My Karachi: City of Quaid, City of Peace’ came to life as thousands of visitors enjoyed the free, unadulterated entertainment chalked out for them.

And one must admit, there was quite a pot-pourri of activity to choose from. The entire strip before the Sea View apartments were lined with stalls of games, face-painting, ethnic products from the various districts of Sindh and towns of Karachi, arts and crafts, food and beverages and information about government departments. In between the stalls, six stages had been erected on which various performances were taking place, while across the road, with the sea forming a backdrop the main stage boasted a constant stream of activities. Ranging from presentations by private, government and special schools to puppet shows, martial arts and participation by visiting children who expressed their views on Pakistan and walked off with gifts, there was something to suit everyone’s tastes.

Murals painted by over 3000 school children on the theme of ‘My Karachi’ adorned the kilometer-long wall facing the sea. It was heartening to see the brilliant work put in by the school children, particularly of government schools, who had worked with oil paints and canvas for the first time in their lives and done a commendable job in the process.

But the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the parade, which started after the arrival of the chief guests, the governor of Sindh, Ishrat-ul-Ibad and chief minister Sindh, Sardar Ali Mohammed Maher who made their entry mercifully, just fifteen minutes behind schedule and took a round of the entire strip on buggies. After speeches by the chairperson of the Heritage Foundation and the brainchild behind KaravanKarachi, Yasmeen Lari, and the two chief guests, all three officially declared the programme open by the release of pigeons.

Led by bands of various schools, including special children, and Pakistan Navy and Sindh Police bands the hour-long parade included floats, contingents, folk music and dancers from various districts of Sindh and Karachi Towns. While every float was impressive and had its own unique charm, the float of flowers, with a little girl ensconced among them, brought by the garden department of city district government, the 1936 fire brigade also brought by city district government and the Lyari cultural float deserved special mention.

What was heartwarming was also the enthusiasm with which districts such as Khairpur, Mirpur Khas and Thatta had participated, bringing in their cultural floats a day earlier. One hopes this was the first step towards building a rapport and understanding among the various districts of the province. Another very vital contribution to the parade was made by the Capital City Police, which put up an exciting martial art performance and Madadgar 1 5 demonstration on the beach; a commando demonstration for which a 60 ft high structure was especially erected to demonstrate a commando rescue operation and brilliant fireworks display. The traffic police too, put up an impressive show with acrobatic motorcyclists participating in the parade.

A collaborative effort with the government of Sindh, Karachi city district government, Sindh district governments, Defence Housing Authority, the traffic police and the capital city police all pitching in, the event proved that it is possible to work together towards a single goal of promoting culture and heritage and fostering a sense of identification and ownership with our cities, province and country. More importantly, it has gone a long way in removing the image of Karachi as a terrorist city. One hopes this will become an annual event – maybe Karachi’s answer to Lahore’s basant.