Hailed as a “Herculean effort by the younger generation” and “a cultural feast” by the Khaleej Times, the Shanaakht Festival is a platform of The Citizens Archive of Pakistan. Shanaakht means ‘identity’ in Urdu and the Festival is and continues to be the nation’s first free and open festival of art, photography, music, theater, story-telling and history.
It was born out of a desire to create a public space for the consumption of cultural activities, for all Pakistanis. It showcases the country’s history to reflect on the country’s journey since Partition.
The exhibit features film and documentary screenings, street theatre, children’s events, art and photography exhibitions, stand up comedic performances, theatrical performances, fusion-music concerts, interactive arts activities and story-telling sessions. It acknowledges those who have participated in movements that expressed and preserved the nation’s history, identity and spirit.
Two Shanaakht festivals have so far taken place in Karachi, the first in August 2007, and the second in November 2009. Thousands of visitors were able to explore their collective identity as Pakistanis and engage in a discourse about the 1947 Partition of the Indian Sub Continent. Oral histories in our archive were made accessible to the public in an interactive display called ‘Meri Kahani Meri Zabani,’ (Here is My Story) – featuring the stories of ordinary Pakistanis who witnessed the birth of the country. Shanaakht presents the strength and spirit of Pakistan with perspectives on how our identity has evolved over the decades since Independence.