By Atta Ur Rehman (Morder, Chitral)
Broghil Festival 2014 will be remembered for a long time by the residents of Broghil Valley. Not because it was the first festival in the area but of course due to the exposure it offered to the residents the media coverage it received and the number of organizations (both Governmental and Non-Governmental) that participated in the festival in one way or the other.
Broghil Festival 2014 started on August 22nd on a sunny Friday at an elevation of 11,000 feet at Ishkarwz Boroghil and ended on 24th of August. People from nearby areas such as zhopo Yarkhoon and far flung areas such as Chitral Town had already started flowing in, even a day before on 21st of August. Chitral Scouts had also been busy in making arrangements for their guests (officials) and preparing schedules for different teams, days before 22nd August.
As the local people said that the festival needs to be arranged in July due to a variety of reasons such as weather condition, availability of leisure time to local residents and good condition of roads. However, this time the weather was better than expected. Yet some people were busy with rearing to their livestock in high pastures,collecting fodder for the cattle and peats for fuel. The local residents who came to the festival location were seemed talking passionately about the festival, their teams, the new road that is going to be built, and the Yak and Horses they had brought with them. During the festival, games such as Yak Race and Yak Polo, Horse Race & Polo, Donkey Race and Donkey Polo, Football, Cricket, Volley ball and Buzkashi were pl
ayed. I guess each game provided some entertainment to the spectators; however, the Buzkashi was mismanaged. It seemed like the rules were not followed as such and there was a bit of rush to end the game. On the final day, 24th of August, Para troopers also exhibited their skills with great courage and landed safely on the ground having big round of applause from the spectators. Based on the thrill of the players, interest of local as well as non-local people, it is predictable that in future polo is going to be one of the most awaited games of the festival.
This time a polo team from Ishqamen (Gilgit) also participated and in future it is expected that more will join. Yak Race might also be an element of fun for non-local people and other domestic tourists. Donkey polo was a game of passion for the youth of the area as it was seen that the donkey polo team players, who took part enthusiastically in the game were aged 15-18. In the festival area there were hotels that provided food to the visitors on affordable prices. Mutton, Rice, Yak meat, Yak Milk and cream, beverages such as tea cold drinks, etc were available. Camping facilities were also available on rent that included tour guides, tents, sleeping bags etc. Small tuck shops were also opened by local people where sweets, chocolates, biscuits, etc were sold.
Horses were available on rent if someone wanted to avail the opportunity of horse riding including visit to areas such as Chilmarabad, Garil, Lashkargaz or even the magnificent Qurumbur at an altitutde of 14,421 feet. Besides these services, local “Wakhi” music was also played by a group of some young people surrounded by non-local people. Pipe (Belu) and Daff were the major instruments used with the music.
The Wakhi music being in a language very different from Khowar gives a different sound to the ear of the audience. The nights were kept warm by the activities of musical groups especially.
Small groups of tourists had brought their own musical instruments from areas such as Booni, Kuragh, Chapali Mastuj, Yarkhoon etc who played and danced till late nights. The glowing tents looked very beautiful in the dark. Chitrali Dhol music was also performed by Chitral Scouts near the Chitral Scouts post at nights. A very long narrative of the festival could be easily built mentioning details of the festival. However, apart from all that mentioned above, it is important to refer that Govt Organizations such as TCKP, Army, Chitral Scouts, District Govt representatives and non-governmental organizations such as AKRSP, CIADP, AKHS, SRSP and PUNAR LSO took part in the festival to make it more important. It is expected that the number and interest of govt departments and NGOs will increase and they would work together to uplift the area economically and socially.
Due to the tough conditions of the area, the local people face a lot of challenges. The main issues faced by the area include livelihood challenges, accessibility, harsh winters, lack of transport (there is not a single vehicle in the area and people travel to Yarkhoon Lasht on foot or on horses to travel down district), health issues, opium addiction etc to name a few. Last not the least, if Broghil Festival is made a calendar event by the Govt and given its due attention, a day will come that it will be as famous as Shandur Festival. Or even more!
(The writer is an independent blogger and his views don’t represent any organization, group or political party).