KARACHI: The 8th Sindhi Culture Day will be celebrated today (Sunday, December, 4) with traditional enthusiasm to highlight centuries old rich culture of Sindh. Mainstream political parties, social, religious, governmental and non-governmental organizations, school, media houses and consulates have arranged programs across the province to celebrate the day. The main gathering in Karachi would be held outside Karachi Press Club. Different activities have been started since December 1, 2016 and during the whole week people, including women and children are wearing Ajrak and Sindhi Topi (cap), which is said to be the identity of the cultural dimension of the province. The first Sindhi Culture Day was celebrated on December 6, 2009 (as the Sindhi Topi Day) as a backlash to the comments of anchorman Dr Shahid Masood who had criticized the then President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari for wearing a Sindhi cap on his foreign tours. Since than, every year, people across the province celebrate this colorful day on the first Sunday in December. These cultural celebrations have boosted the Ajrak manufacturing industry. Ajrak is a type of shawl composed of very bright colors with special designs and varies colors, it’s worn by both men and women and its prints were transcribed from 5000 years old site of Mohenjo Daro. Ajrak is made in different districts across Sindh, but Hyderabad, Matiari, Halla, Bhitshah are famous among the famous cities for manufacturing the best quality of Ajrak. A NGOs recently started skill development training of young artisans on Ajrak manufacturing. The project, has been named as “Improved livelihoods through creative industry in Pakistan”, implemented by Aik Hunar Aik Nagar (AHAN), a subsidiary company of PIDC under Ministry of industries & Production with the support of Centre for Culture & Development (CKU), a self-governing institution under the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Shakeel Abro, Regional Coordinator AHAN endorsed the cultural festivals like this, which will be supportive to this work to promote traditional and cultural industry. He said there are 70 workshops in the province, located in cities like Matiari, Hala, Sehwan, Tando Muhammad Khan and one leading in Bhitshah. They have provided training to 125 young artisans, associated to different workshops. Apart from this ; for further business promotion, they are encouraging these workshops to design their profiles and are linking them to chamber of commerce and industry. Traditional Ajrak has four colors only, red, blue, black and white. But now the artesian have started using more than 16 colors to make it more attractive for buyers. Ajrak is around 2 to 3 meters long and one meter wide, this traditional cloth is made with special block printed designs and patterns in intense colors and among other colors, the rich crimson and deep indigo with some white and black give them an attractive look. Men tie it on head as turban or wear it around shoulders or even their wear it on sometimes on waist and women wear it as a dupatta. Ajrak is also placed on a coffin as a mark of respect. The process of making an Ajrak is highly complex and it has so many stages. Traditionally, Ajrak was made from pure natural ingredients and for its blue colors; people were used to plant indigo plants and used to take other colors from the nature. However, due to the high price and also extensive demand, the natural dyes are now replaced with chemicals for commercial purposes. Besides Ajrak, the Sindhi topi is also supposed to be the most important part of the Sindhi culture and the people of the province usually offer Sindhi topi and Ajrak to their guests. Sindhi topi, a distinctive cap of the province, stands out due to its colorful embroidery and glasswork. It is round in shape and a portion in front is cut out to expose the forehead. Almost every Sindhi, rich or poor, owns a Sindhi cap. Sindhi topi is famous not just in Sindh, but all over Pakistan; and besides Sindhis, it is worn by the Pakhtuns and Balochs. Hand-woven Sindhi topis are an output of hard labor and produced in almost every district of the province. However, the Sindhi topi produced in Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar and other districts of the Mirpurkhas division are rated better and can fetch a better price.