Wither Chitrali folk games?

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, May 17—-23, 2008

By Zar Alam Khan
TRADITIONAL Chitrali games and sports, practised through generations in all parts of the district, have gradually been making ways to those alien to the valley through the penetration into villages of games popular in urban areas. Apart from modern means of technology and the diffusion of information, people’s regular and increasing interactions with urban areas have led to the introduction and borrowing of fashions practised in the cities. In the process, local customs have lost ground to exotic intruders. In today’s world there is no denying the fact that we cannot live a hermetic life in a secluded fashion cut off from all outside happenings and neither we can stop the floodgates of the waves of changes taking place in our surroundings. But this does not mean that we should go haywire and grab whatever comes in ourway, completely forgetting the customs practised by our
forefathers. Instead we should make ways to combine the old and the new ones in a harmonizing way, so that we can go all along with the modern world – with all its niceties – without compromising on our values and mores. When we closely look into all these cultural erosions within our lifetime, it becomes apparent that a large number of folk games have died off in a quick succession. People of our age may well figure out numerous customs practised by our elders which have now vanished from our society and no one even name them anymore. In many cases, economic and social factors have also taken the toll on many of these activities. Take the example of polo, the most popular game of the district. Not a long time ago we used to witness regular polo matches in all villages in which people all and sundry took great interest, while every village and hamlet reserved a ground for the purpose. Partly, because keeping a horse was necessitated as the animal was also used for riding and transportation in the absence of modern means of communication. When in the mid 1970s, the jeep reached distant villages for the first time, the future of horse-keeping looked grim and afterwards it lost its utility. Brides and grooms, for instance, are no more seen riding a horse on the tune of lekzzoor at a marriage ceremony! How many of us know about the folk games and sports of Chitral, once a passion for all in a typical village lifestyle, but which have so quickly lost ground in front of us.Mohammad Changez Khan sahib had enumerated some of the popular folk games of Chitral in his presentation at the 2nd International Hindukush Conference held in Chitral in September 1990, proceedings of which have been published in a form of a very informative and a-must-read book. Some of the folk games were played only by men or boys, some by girls and women, while others by both boys and girls, he says. For example, the following are for male only: (1) Patik dik, ‘hit the shank bone’, (2) Budi dik, ‘hit the bloc’ (3) Tuksuri dik, ‘hit the stick sharpened at both ends 4) Bampu ghal, ‘cloth-ball hockey’ (5) Plinju ghal, ‘wooden-ball hockey’ (6) Potbal (football), (7) Shit dik, ‘hit the target’ (8) Gach chokik, ‘wrestling’ (9) Shimen zingeik, ‘pull the rope or tug-of-war’ (10) Boht pechik, ‘throw the stone, shot put’ (11) Pahlawan bohtu usneik, ‘wrestlers’ stone-lifting; weight-lifting competition’ (12) Ayukun chakeik, ‘make the egg fight’ and (13) Pagah, ‘horse-racing’. The following games are exclusively practised by girls: (1) Hup dik, ‘whirling in pairs’ (2) Phishpu hapu dik, ‘whirling in pairs’ (3) Aghavuli, ‘hoping synchronising with clapping’ (4) Choqombiz, ‘swinging (5) pai dreik’ ‘throwing down the goats’. For boys and girls: Shapirkelli’ ‘the sheep and the wolf'(2) Dashman-gordogh, ‘the mula and the donkey’ (3) Khosht bik, ‘hide and seek’ (4) Auri khai petchik, ‘to throw the cap while riding’ (5) Acho khoi pechik, ‘to drop the cap in the back’ (6) Chhiro boht pechik’ ‘throwing the white stone’ (7) Lalu lalu kharbooza’ ‘cantaloupes and watermelons’ (8) Taqa just’ ‘odd or even (apricot pits)’ (9) Koothuk dik’ ‘making the (apricot) pits fight’ (10) Khai khaio dreik’ ‘putting (apricot pits) in the cap’ (11) Choomur dori’ ‘the wooden spoon and the silver brooch’ (whirling competition) (12) Birmogh chakeik’ ‘to contest (walnuts) for hardness’ (13) Ishkoto dik’ ‘hopping while holding one foot’ (14) Tung kelli waw’ ‘the old woman and her short-eared sheep, etc. It is our collective responsibility to preserve and revive our tradition for posterity.—Chitral Today


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