Threats to Chitrali Culture

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Saturday, June 7—-June 13, 2008

By Islamuddin
Of late there has been a lot of hue and cry that Chitrali culture would become part of history in the post lowari Chitral with the onrush of the external influences. This perception emerges from the realization that Chitrali culture is too weak to stand external pressure. I do not subscribe to this view. In my view Chitrali culture is very strong because it is unique and attractive. A media company,preparing documentary for CNBC Channel, has found Chitrali cultural expressions as the most interesting, natural and marketable. It is ironic that our cultural products are marketed profitably by the rest of the world, while in Chital we are bemoaning over its fragility.The gravest threat to Chitrali culture comes from the apathy of Chitrali people themselves. This apathy was evident during a recently held cultural festival. Hosts lost their sense of hospitality, which is considered to be the hall mark of Chitrali culture, and gate crashed into the festival venue and dining hall without tickets and payment. The musical groups were undermining each other for personal aggrandizement and ego satisfaction. Mercifully at the end of the show, as a result of some good input from culture sensitive participants, including Abdul Wali advocate, who has done good service for Chitrali music, sanity prevailed and musical groups apparently burried the hatchet and decided to work unitedly for the protection and promotion of Chitrali culture. The groups were told that they should work for shared objectives and own each other, because they supplemented each other. One group represented the passion of Chitrali music while the other its clarity and yet another its simplicity. Chitrali culture would be poorer without either of them and they need to understand this. It is unfortunate that Chitrali culture has not been able to come out of its darbari syndrome because the general public is unwilling or unable to financially support and patronize artists. Well-to-do segments of the society with few exceptions have given in to greed and are not prepared to spend on cultural activities. Some of them do not want to take the risk of investing in the promotion of cultural products because of skill and knowledge gap in the fields of production and marketing. In this scenario artists are left at the mercy of feudal mindset to sustain them in return for sycophancy, which has traditionally been the weakness of feudal and powerful people. Very few music groups have been able to break away from this mindset to take music at the doorsteps of the common man.—

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