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Let's bring forth the undiscovered Chitral


The culture of my homeland Chitral has always inspired me and I often feel that our cultural heritage has so far never been portrayed befittingly. Since the monopoly of PTV to the era of cable, there have been several documentaries on Chitral, but the magic of this region is yet to be felt by the world, the soul of the Hindukush yet to be discovered. Chitrali traditions, I believe are dynamic in nature and when I say dynamic, I don't mean it as a word from the dictionary, denoting something powerful and charismatic, I mean it as a phenomenon.


When you ask a non Chitrali if they know about the culture of Chitral, most of them will talk about the Kalash valley. Infact , usually when people get to know I am from Chitral, they assume that I am a Kalash.Whereas the Kalash culture is just a part of the colours of this area.When you search the youtube for Chitrali culture, all you will find is; videos of Chitrali musical shows held on various occasions.These things are like a drop in the ocean.The history of Chitral, the time of the mehtars, the folk tales, the stories about fairies and 'deos', about the villages occupied by 'gores' (witches), and how they were slain by our ancestors, even if just stories, have an aura that catches everyone's interest.

 

The handicrafts in the form of embroidered bags, clothes, women's hats and ' surma dani's' are so unique that people from other regions love to collect them as souvenirs, but we unfortunately take them for granted.On the other hand our neighbouring Gilgit has developed its market in this area and I firmly believe that we too can turn heads with our colourful artifact as the Chitrali stitch is much more intricate and elaborate in nature.Our 'shu' if tailored well can fascinate the international market easily with its style and decency.The Chitrali rings, that are so exclusive in nature, have never been exhibited as a unique part of our culture.The fact that they are made of animal horns is enough to impress people who have an interest in ethnic cultures.


The food of chitral, the lifestyle,the 'khomon', the clove necklaces, the harvest time 'kishsh' that reminds me of my uncles saying 'ha gye ha ha ha', the simplicity and honesty, this is my Chitral. The quotes of our ancestors,the proverbs full of wisdom,the poetry of great poets like baba siyar ,this is the spirit of Chitral. We should be thankful that we are blessed with a land that not only is outwardly breathtaking, but is also unexampled as far as traditions and folklore is concerned.


Now, let me come to the purpose of this letter.I truly wish that we would get together to do something on both national and international level to highlight Chitral according to its worth.Whenever I read letters and comments on Chitralnews I realize that we have alot of educated people with great ideas which shows that we bear great potential and can put our heads together to come up with innovative ideas to promote Chitrali culture in the form of exhibitions, cultural weeks, press conferences etc..I know some readers might say that there have been efforts in the past to form societies for the welfare of chitrali culture but unfortunately they have become victims of sectarian issues or personal grudges. But I feel that the fault lies in our own intentions and our aims.If we really aim at bringing out the true colours of Chitral putting aside our personal matters, I am sure we all can contribute in promoting the ethnology of Chitral, which can eventually lead to progress and prosperity of this land..--Zeenat Khan, Islamabad 18 Oct 10

 

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