Without our unique culture, we will lose our identity

Fozia Zameer

Chitral is not only a beautiful piece of land on the surface of the earth but also a title for a blend of numerous possessions within itself. Surrounded by the mighty Hindukush Mountains, you can see the splendor of nature, novelty of rich vivid culture and simplicity, amicability plus affectionate feelings of the Khow people of Chitral.

Entering the heaven on earth Chitral with the eternal comfort of mind and not merely the most striking sight of luscious green valley will feast your eyes but also the beauty and honesty of people will snatch your heart out of your ribs and put down most loved memories forever. Staring towards you, large sparkling eyes worn kohl possessing unreasonable happiness, naive gaze, fairest and flawless complexion and apple red cheeks yet getting extra blush of shyness, wearing a long sheet all around, dressing up to the simplest and bare footed yet gorgeous to eyes.

I am not narrating a fairytale neither sketching some imaginative character. Yes I am verbalizing a normal Chetrari (Chitrali) girl. The women of Chitral are famed for their beauty in all over the world. One can also symbolize Chitral as the land of fairies. We Chitrali daughters are not solitary known for prettiness but more for our values and culture, which bounds us to our firm limits and varies us from the rest of all, beautifies us more yet crown us with respect and put us to the heights. Chitrali women from roots signify beauty, grace and pride of family. Always in their cultural as well as religious borders, they are also playing a worthy role in every domain of life and shimmering their impression. A young energetic boy with full of hospitality, always welcoming and keen to attend his guests can be none other than a Chitrali brother, always an icon of bravery, strength, kindhearted, with noble feelings and civilized culture.

Fathers and grandfathers wearing Chetrari kaphol (Chitrali traditional cap) sitting on a takht (wooden ottoman) in the balcony of Kushuno Khatan (mud house) playing pleasantly harmonious folk melody with Sitar (Chitrali traditional guitar) is no doubt an amusing scene for every Chitrali near or far from their land. Chitrali culture is so rich, vibrant and appealing that every shade of life can be found there with the warmth of love and bliss. From clothing to behavior, living to food, in every tiny thing you can discover simplicity with originality and distinctiveness. The traditional Khoi (handmade feminine cap) having rainbow colored threads holding adore and scent of motherly tenderness, on the heads of our grandmothers, a small mirror with kohl in an artfully embroidered pouch in our mother’s pocket can melt anyone’s heart belongs to Chitral.

These every minor though pleasingly noticeable things are all the attraction and fascination of our Chitrali culture. Culture is the seed of all our behavior and living ways. It’s our Chitrali culture that moulds uniquely every Chitrali’s personality from cradle to grave. All the paths we walk are already shaped and gifted to us from our forefathers. It’s the most magnificent and priceless gem we own. It grasps asset and shield for women, admiration and honor for fathers and grandfathers, affection for brothers and serenity for all.

Khowar (Chitrali language), our living customs, communication and dealings, all our norms which depict our basis are our most valued possession. From the design of our traditional mud houses to mini water mills, from our delicious cuisine to dry fruits, from our folk music to local gatherings, traditional clothing to the spindle of spinning wheel, we are having the most beautiful and rare culture. There are tremendous things more which are unique and anciently stylish belongs to our land. The most worthy are our emotions and feelings for each other, which are also an element of our culture. Our simplicity, hospitality, honest positive approaches, get-togethers, devotion and respect for each other and every other encouraging feature of us has evolved and bloomed from our Chitrali culture. It’s the individuality in our wearing, living and behaving that pulls people towards Chitral from far and wide.

With a heavy heart I must state that we are changing ourselves, burning our mores with the vivid fire of advancement and are swollen with pride having the ashes of modernism. We are not constructing modern style houses but destructing our culture, we are not altering modern outfits but losing our unique wearing with common ones and bit by bit transforming from gem to rock. There are also numerous other beautiful places in Pakistan but it’s our Chitrali culture that crafts us as an exclusive all the way and magnetize people to Chitral. We all Chitralis should be terrified of the day when there will be no difference between Chitral and other areas because when you compare the present Chitral with what it was in past 10 years you will see a shocking and dreadful change in everything concerning cultural aspect. Fearing the day when our origin will remain as “once upon a time in Chitral. In the era of our forefathers there were mud houses used to be engineered in a unique stylish way and had attraction and comfort for all of us”.

At least we should maintain and protect Chetrari culture within the walls of Chitral. So wherever we go, wherever we live, when we return to our beloved homeland, we must find the unchanged Chitral which we always love the most and find many pleasing memories connected of our loved ones.  

2 Replies to “Without our unique culture, we will lose our identity”

  1. Fozia Zameer deserves appreciation for the beautifully composed article on Kho culture. I fully agree with her apprehension of losing our unique cultural values. Our youth is mostly responsible for the cultural degradation. In the name of Chitrali culture, they are presenting non-Chitrali items; acting as non-Khow boys/girls and behaving quite differently. If it continues as it is, we would be some other people but no Kho (Chitrali). Whenever I have had chance to watch Kho cultural show, arranged by our youths, I have been disappointed.

  2. There is a view of culture, values and social norms. The writer has briefly displayed the distinct values of hospitality, bravery, tolerance, pluralism, respect, simplicity and honesty of Khow people. She wants to make it clear that these social terms have not the equal meanings in neighboring societies. For example, we have our own meaning, definition and action of hospitality and bravery. She has highlighted the role of men, woman and seniors in the society. They have a relationship of trust and respect, respect for elders and affection to children. Despite some cultural limitations, a woman is free to play his part in any field of life. In the end she stressed for the preservation or maintenance of Khowar culture with modernity. I think, and agree with her that we should be developed and modernized within the theme of our culture and also we could not ignore the scientific age of the day. So our cultural values could only exist if we studied our cultural values philosophically and rationally to compete the modern challenges. Only those societies and cultural could exist with honour and respect which are harmonized with the modern values.
    The writer successfully represented the Khowar culture and its beauty. I think she sensitively and thoroughly studied Khowar culture. I congratulate to our Kai, and appreciate her work. I am hopeful that she would continue her efforts for Khowar culture and its existence in the valley.

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