The central province of Bamyan was on Friday officially declared the first cultural capital of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for the year 2015 at a colourful ceremony held near the destroyed Buddha Statues.
Second Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mohammad Muhaqqiq, who traveled to Bamyan, unveiled the emblem “SAARC Cultural Capital Bamyan” at the province’s airport.
Muhaqqiq, accompanied by Information and Culture Minister Abdul Bari Jehani and some lawmakers, took part in the ceremony held near the destroyed Buddha statues.
The twin statues were blown up by the Taliban back in 2001 with anti-aircraft artillery and explosives as the hardline regime decreed the statues were idolatrous and ordered them to be demolished.
Government representatives and officials from SAARC nations are scheduled to speak at the ceremony marking the province as the cultural capital of SAARC countries.
Tight security measures were put in place for the ceremony in the relatively peaceful Bamyan province. Many roads and buildings have been decorated as part of preparations for the event.
Dozens of programs and festivals have been planned in addition to the inaugural and closing ceremonies. Exhibitions, seminars, music and dance shows, arts and crafts workshops, literary festivals, food shows, screening of films and documentaries are planned.
The province has several famous historical sites besides the famous Buddha statues with more than 3,000 caves around it, the Band-i-Amir National Park, Dara-i-Ajhdar, Gholghola and Zakhak ancient towns, the Feroz Bahar, Astopa, Klegan, Gaohargin, Kaferan and Cheldukhtaran.
Bamyan name can be translated as "The Place of Shining Light". In antiquity, central Afghanistan was strategically placed to thrive from the Silj Road caravans which criss-crossed the region trading between the Roman Empire, China, Central and South Asia. Bamyan was a stopping off point for many travellers.
It was here where elements of Greek and Buddhist art were combined into a unique classical style, known as Greco-Buddhist art.