The significance of Pathak festival

By Suraya Afzal

Abu Moinuddin Nasir Khusraw was a very great theologian of Ismailism, well-known poet and a great literary figure of Persian. He was born in the year 1004 AD in the Khorasan province of Iran.

Besides the holy Quran, he had also great command on the Old Testament. Before assuming his spiritual life, he served as a finance secretary in the Suljueq government and enjoyed all luxuries of his time. The year 1045 AD completely changed his life when he saw a wonderful dream.

According to sources from his well-known book, Safar Nama, the holy Prophet (PBUH) appeared to him in a dream and directed him to travel towards the west for the salvage of his soul/his inner satisfaction. So he reached Makkah to perform Haj and then travelled to Cairo where the Fatimids were in power at that time. He remained with the Isma’ili Dai Muinuddin and gained lots of information about Ismaili Muslims. Nasir Khusraw remained in the Fatimid court and after some time when gained lots of information, guidance and answers to his questions, he decided to travel towards the west. 

Nasir Khusraw started preaching Ismailism and moved from country to country. According to traditions, Nasir Khusraw also visited Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan for the purpose of preaching Ismailism. Safar Nama, Wajh e Deen and Zad e Musaferen are famous books written by Nasir Khusraw. According to verbal sources and research, Nasir Khusraw practiced (meditations) in a cave in the mountains of Garam Chashma (Injigan) and came out on the first day of February.

The people of Garam Chashma celebrate this day (Feb 1 every year) as a festival named Pathak. The people wait for this festival for a month and prepare new dresses to wear on this special occasion. Three days before the festival, elder people from caliph family called as Pathakin visit door to door to wish good luck for the people and guide them how to celebrate the event.

These Pathakin are offered gifts such as locally made items like dry fruits and served with milk made items and local sweet dishes. A day before the festival is called Samoon. On this day, whole valley is cleaned and houses decorated with local decoration pieces made with handmade items. All people seem to be happy and waiting passionately for the day of Pathak.

On the day of Pathak, from dawn to dusk, people continue visiting each other and wishing them good luck. On this blessed day, flour is sprinkled on the shoulder of the visitors and then they are served with local sweet dishes such as shoshpalaki, shoshp and different milk-made items. Relatives can be presented gifts called Bash. People look very happy and smiles spread on their faces throughout the day.

Young, old and all aged people can be seen in groups visiting relatives. The event is not only celebrated by the Ismailis but people belonging to the Sunni community also participate in it. This shows the beauty of diversity, love and respect for their Dai. It also teaches the lesson of peace and mutual harmony that exist in the region of Garam Chashma.

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