The seventh Fazilka Heritage Festival got off to a colourful start on Thursday night.
The first evening of the four-day fest, being organised by the Graduate Welfare Association, Fazilka, was dedicated to devotional songs.
Conceived and planned as a cultural event showcasing the various aspects of art, music and food culture of Fazilka with a view of injecting a fresh lease of life in them, the festival is literally an art and cultural extravaganza, said Bhupinder Singh, a veteran IITian and president of the Graduate Welfare Association.
Aimed at promoting Fazilka's rich culture and heritage worldwide, the event directly supports local handicrafts, artisans and traders with the larger purpose of generating employment opportunities through tourism, said Bhupinder.
The association said Prem Nath Bubber, a Fazilka resident and a Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) passout who brought the name of his hometown on the international map through kinnow cultivation and promotion, would be awarded the "Fazilka Rattan" this year.
Bubber had taken to horticulture in 1976 and was the first one to successfully grow kinnows in the area. In 1982, he also started growing vegetables and flowers, besides opting for seed production.
Bubber was the first farmer of the area to promote the concept of bio-fertilisers and organic manure. He also pioneered the cultivation of organic wheat and organic vegetables.
Bubber opened a nursery of fruit saplings in 1983 for the benefit of fruit growers of the region. He started the Bubber Horticulture Marketing Advisory Service in 1988 to guide fruit growers. A recipient of various awards at citrus shows and competitions organised by the horticulture department, he was recently conferred the best extension worker award by the PAU vice-chancellor at a kisan mela.
The festival began with a 'shabad' sung by Manjinder Taneja and Happy Delight, which was followed by performances by Ibadat Band of Government Girls School, Fazilka and the newly launched Sufiaana band "Azad Parinde".
The event is being organised at four venues. Music and dance shows are being held in the car-free area near Clock Tower. The food zone and the exhibition-cum-sale zone are both in Sanjay Gandhi Musical Park.
This year's special attractions are the organic food stall of Jiyani Natural Farm and of course the famous Punjabi juttis of Fazilka.
As every year, the town is all decked up for the annual event to give it a festive look.
Later in the evening, the association honoured the Social Welfare Society and Shri Ram Sharnam society for their eye donation campaigns in the past two years.
"Fazilka residents donated more than 310 pairs of eyes in the last two years, because of which the eyesight of more than 600 people has been restored. Fazilka is the topmost district in the country in terms of number of eye donations," association members observed.