Khalifa Ghulom Sa’di of Ishkoman Valley (Northern Pakistan) Talks on Shogũn Bahor and Nawruz (Part II)

March 27, 2020

By Fazal Amin Beg

I’m presenting here the second part on the significance of nawruz (New Year of the Iranian Calendar) and Shogũn Bahor (Spring Festivity) described by Khalifa Ghulom Sa’di son of Karam Ali of Barjangal in Ishkoman Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan Region (Northern Pakistan. The first part of his talk on the subject I published earlier on March 24, 2020 that was watched and liked by hundreds of viewers in video form on Eagles World Channel ( .
This part is so impressive again in an anthropological context and many deep questions arise out of his exciting talk in Wakhi Pamiri/Tajik language on the Spring festival. For the non-Wakhi speakers , I’ve translated his talk in English to internationalize his voice. I hope the readers and viewers would enjoy the contents he has impressively offered. Click on the following link of Eagles World Channel to watch and listen Khalifa Ghulom Sadi.
… Following the preceding of throwing the tied unit of spoon, roller pin (noghelvorch) and zidel (an ice axe-like tool for scratching the sticky dough in the wooden container shaping a boat) on the one hand, and the seed grains thrown down from the roof window/ventilator, the men would then descend from the roof and go to the field/terrace to open the oxen.Furthermore, they would also bring the stuffs like seed grains and mũl (a traditional Wakhi dish).
When the men would arrive at the door of the home, the elderly person of the household would hold the chain of the house as the women who were inside the house had internally locked the door. The elderly man of the house, while carrying the grains of the ritual on his back would hold the chain and speak loudly in Persian (so the women inside should listen him):
“pruprupru …Dawlat-e Ishkoshim owarde-am; pruprupru dawlat-e bishumor owarde-am; pruprupru az yek dona hazor owarde-am; trutrutru ba faloni zan owarde-am; pruprupru ba faloni shuy owarde-am.” The translation follows in this manner: “I’ve brought the wealth of Ishkoshim; I’ve brought uncountable wealth; I’ve brought husband for so and so in the house (the unmarried girls/young woman); I’ve brought wife to so and so in the house (unmarried boys/young men).” When names of all unmarried people inside the house would get finished the women would then open the door.
Chorused with the elderly man, all would then say: “Shogũn-e Bahor Mũborak” (May the fortunate or kingly day be blessed upon you). The oxen have been released and all children would then enter in the house together. None is supposed to enter in the house after bringing the seed/ grains inside the house. If, in case, some of the family remained outside the house for any reason, he or she would be allowed to enter in the house not from the main entrance but rather from the backdoor, in case the house had a backdoor towards the house store. Moreover, in case, any guest comes in the meanwhile, the family members would apologize from him by politely communicating him or her that the family had already drawn the seed grains outside and for such reason s/he could not be allowed to enter in the house. He or she was thus served either the tea or the mũl outside the house and he or she would then leave from there onward.
Next, if there was time, the young men would go for playing polo games (jugun) as well as the ball (put); while the young women would go for entertaining themselves with swinging (wũltanchak) by tying a rope to a tree branch. Those who were adult in the families, would begin visiting their relatives, friends and neighbors by exchanging the shogũn pũt̃ok (food of the festivity). Such exchange of food would continue for the entire day on rotation as per custom and tradition.
In the evening, the young men and women would return home after playing the games, as earlier there was no such trend of and strictness in offering prayers. The small children would thus hold thin sticks in their hands and each one of them would strike them on the walls to push out the evil spirits (such as giants from the house). They would say: “Niwzev, niwzev, niwzev, Kũnjũdh-e qaq yawev; niwzev, niwezev, niwzev Piyal-e pic̃htetk miywa yawev; niwzev, niwzev, niwzev Gilt rec̃hen yemzel k̃hater bet̃ gok̃hen.” The translation follows as: “Go out, go out, go out, eat the dried apricots of Hunza; go out, go out, go out, eat the fresh/ripen fruit of Punyal; go out, go out, buy clothes from Gilgit; go out, go out, go out, …..” the children would thus strike the walls towards outside the door and close it and return inside the house. The steps in the ritual would thus get concluded for this day.
The next day, the elderly male member of a family/household would get up before the dawn of the day. In our case, for instance, my father would get up even before the morning prayers time and bring our donkey inside the house, the donkey was offered grains of barley and the leftover food. additionally, the donkey’s face was being whitened: first, water was shed on its face that was followed by the handful of flour, the donkey’s face would thus become whitened (chol). One of the underlying meanings was to make our animals also happy during such great occasion that they would also move towards getting the green grass as their food in addition to availing the grains.
In the aftermath, the family members of a household would invite that person in the house whom they mostly respected who was termed as Shoguni, it’s also to be noted that the same person would normally know that he was honored by the family, therefore after taking his breakfast, he would enter in the house of that particular family on his own. If he didn’t visit the family, he would be invited to be with them after bringing the seed/grain inside the house and afterwards, as per norm anyone from outside the house would then visit the respective family members the shogũni person would thus visit the family. After his arrival in the house, the family would present him the mũl of the seed (tukhm). The kinsperson, as Shogũni, would be offered the mũl, he’d eat a bit from the dish, offer prayer of blessings (either a short one or a longer one) to the family and then would leave the house. From here onward, the house is now open to visitors of any kind.

The mũl is kept on the mand̃al (or called as tok among Hunza Wakhi, which means the wall within the main Wakhi traditional house to the sides of the platforms which doesn’t touch the ceiling of the house and is used for both as protection and keeping things upon it during the events (besides normal days). The mũl is placed on the mand̃al for a week’s period and is offered to them whosoever comes to visit them during those days, whether a visitor of nearby or distant location. The home-made butter is thawed out (liquefied) and put in to the mũl and offered to the visitors. He or she’d take a bit from it and the dish is kept at the same place again. Here the seed ritual concludes.
It’s important to note that in the past, people would prepare the Wakhi dishes like mũl and qũmoch (baked bread in the fire oven) but at present those food types or dishes have almost ended or have been replaced. Earlier, there was the Dũda Dingak (cleansing of the roof smokes) but these days those types of house do not exist as the rooms or the house is found already clean and no smoke on the ceiling. Instead, we find today the white washed walls or the painted wood of the house. Only, the cloths are taken out from the house and they are cleaned. Besides, the floor of the house is cleaned to go through the procedures symbolically. Now, there is no ritual related to the seeds and ox as per se. There is no more the krest (goat mantel) or the ritual connected with the old woman to accompany the male members towards the field, all such things have gone. If there exists any, it’d be just symbolic, however, S̃hus̃hp (known among Hunza Wakhi as shek̃hch semn) is being cooked at present for the kinspersons, for instance, when the married daughters would visit their patrilocal (father’s house) would carry along with themselves the Shogũn Pũt̃ok (literaly as bread of the Big Day). S̃hus̃hp (a delicious Wakhi dish of the ritual) is thus exchanged in bowls among the families of relatives or neighbors, some families (who possess the home-made butter) may cook bat (another traditional Wakhi food) and exchange them among the families or different types of kinspersons (such as foster families) and neighbors. We could say that a drastic change has come up in our societies and many aspects of the old rituals have taken their last breath.
Before conclusion, I’m grateful to both Fazal Amin Beg (who visited us for conducting interview with me on the subject matter) and to Fazal Ali (for the videography) as this talk will remain on record. Thanks to you all for listening me.

My special thanks, once again, to Khalifa Ghulom Sadi for honoring my request to present a talk on the subject. Equally, I’m indebted to Fazal Ali Sadi (son of Khalifa Ghulom Sadi) for the videography and Mazdak Jibran Beg (my nephew) for the technical and overall support.

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