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SPECIAL: Jammu Kashmir Festival in London

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Jammu Kashmir Festival 3rd Edition in London

Jammu Kashmir Festival 3rd Edition celebrated in London Commemorating the Jammu Kashmir Day….reports Asian Lite News

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Jammu Kashmir Festival 3rd Edition in London

The 3rd edition of the Jammu Kashmir Festival concluded in London coinciding with the Jammu Kashmir Day in commemoration of signing of the Instrument of Accession by the then Maharaja Hari Singh on 26th October. This year the Festival focussed on the need for a Global Dialogue on ‘Pashmina’, the soft gold and unique soft power that unites the people and cultures of the entire state.

The Jammu Kashmir Festival organised a screening of the film, “Call of Pashmina” based on the life and journey of Babar Afzal, a former Mckinzie Analyst who gave up his corporate career to be a Pashmina Goat Shepherd and Artist. Hosted by Bob Blackman MP at the Houses of Parliament on 22nd Oct, the event was well attended by eminent people from the Fashion industry, theatre, politics and supporters of wildlife preservation and ethical fashion. The programme was supported by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and High Commission as the artiste,  Babar Afzal will be participating in a textile and handicrafts exhibition hosted by The Nehru Centre on 2nd November in London.

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Jammu Kashmir Festival 3rd Edition in London

The film that portrays the life, journey and vision of Babar showcases this through the lens of the Pashmina ecosystem as opposed to just the commercial lens. The film has already won a number of international awards is being screened at the British Documentary Film Festival on 3rd November in London.

Introducing the effort, Lakshmi Kaul, Curator of Jammu Kashmir Festival and Head & Representative – UK, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) thanked the volunteers, the host, Bob Blackman and the artiste for their support in highlighting the voice of reason and future to the state of J&K. She said, “Remembering history is important but the effort must remain to focus on the present as that alone will shape the future. The effort of the JK Festival has remained to highlight a layer of the J&K state that has remained under represented or unknown to the UK public.”

Bob Blackman MP, Vice-Chair of Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group and Patron of the Jammu Kashmir Festival congratulated the team of volunteers for having presented the 3rd edition of this initiative. He highlighted the importance of the date 26th October and wished everyone on being a part of the Jammu Kashmir Day celebrations year on year. Giving the background to the context of the Festival and its setting up, he reiterated the valuable work it was laying out by sharing some of the important aspects of the state of Jammu & Kashmir that instill faith and optimism.

Sonal Sher, Director, Jammu Kashmir Festival shared an update on the three years of the Festival’s journey and thanked everyone for their support and time. “Everyone is a volunteer here and we give of our time, effort, resources and passion to the initiative because we believe in looking ahead. The Jammu Kashmir Festival was a dream some of us saw and have continued to share with the wider members of public globally.”

Jammu Kashmir Festival 3rd Edition in London

Lord Dolar Popat congratulated the team for the effort and said he is proud to be associated with the Festival since its inception.

Babar Afzal, the special guest speaker at the Festival spoke of his journey and the lessons he had learnt in living with the Shepherds and the goats. He talked about the many years of struggle and how the faith the Pashmina community put in him gives him strength to carry on. His journey inspired those in the room and touched them spiritually as well as left a glint of hope in people’s heart. Approaching the Pashmina from not only the luxury product perspective, Babar highlighted the significance of preserving and protecting not only the Pashmina Goat but also the many communities that form the ecosystem of the Goat and thus the Pashmina.

Babar also met with Mr Manish Singh, Minister (Economic), High Commission of India and presented the Friend of Pashmina Goat pin and his book, Six Times Thinner. He discussed the proposal of launching a Global Luxury Pashmina Dialogue in the UK next year coinciding with the London Fashion Week. The Pashmina Goat project will be showcased at a day long Textile and Handloom exhibition at The Nehru Centre on 2nd November along with other artisans and artistes from various states of India.

Discussions are also being held currently with the Fashion Roundtable,  Pure London and various Fashion industry and wildlife representatives to plan the upcoming activities.

An Early Day Motion is being tabled in the Houses of Parliament to highlight the need for focussing on the ethical Pashmina Dialogue and preserving the Pashmina Ecosystem as also to seek support for the Pashmina4Peace campaign.