Monday, March 12, 2012


Gojal  (Upper Hunza) is a fairy tale valley famous for high peaks,  fascinating glaciers, beautiful meadows, awesome pastures, educated and hospitable community. Besides natural wealth and beauty, the valley harbors a diverse and endangered mountainous cultural traditions. Among its total population of about 20 thousand souls majority speaks Wakhi (Xhikwor) language; while Burushaski and Domaaki languages are also spoken in some villages.
Gojal is geographically the largest Tehsil of the Northern Areas of Pakistan and is spread over an area of about 8,500 at an elevation ranges from 2,340m to 4,877m. The valley borders internationally with the Xinjiang-Uighur region of People Republic of China through the famous Khunjrab, Kilik and Mintika passes and with the Afghan Wakhan -Little Pamir (Pamir-i-Khurd) through Irshod Pass.

This is the ceremony to formally open the farming season. This ceremony depends on the extremes of weather to different places. In lower Gojal from Shishkat to Gulmit it is celebrated on 5 march. In upper Gojal, Shimshal and Chipurson valleys it is celebrated when the weather condition becomes normal and suitable for cultivation.  The celebration continues for two days. For this ceremony people prepare a special dish called Samn (for recipe see the cuisine section) by processing wheat grains for about one months before this day. The Semn is cooked like pudding or  halva as well as Semn breads are prepared.

During the first day people gather at common places in the village while carrying with Khamali, Samn and some other traditional dishes. Here the villagers together eat these dishes and offer common pray for the betterment of community and good production of crops. During evening time the villagers take a piece of a plant Pishpishunuk locally called Suthors from a representative of Shoghunputhuks. From here he takes it to the roof of the traditional house and a traditional dish is prepared called Mul (from wheat flour latter eat with butter). The Suthors is then entered to the house from a opening in the centre of the traditional houses called Risin. From here that is lifted to the field with the damp of livestock manure.
This day the people belongs to a particular family locally called Shaghun Puthuk came in procession with a particular protocol holding sticks in hand.  First of all they perform the Tumung in a old house. During the Tumung they burn fire inside the house and check that where the smoke goes. This is a old time believe that in which direction the smoke spreads at that side of the village the production of wheat will be more. In this house a person from that family is dressed  special called Dhrukhs (Ox). From here the Shoghunputhuks with the symbolic Dhirokhs proceed to a field where people from the whole village gather and give great protocol to Shoghunputhuks.  In the field the symbolic Dhruksh make some actions and perform like a typical oxen style. The Khalifa (peson that performs religious rituals)  prays for better crops, unity, and success.  After prayer, an elder from Shoghunputhuk sprinkle seed to a small area of the field and cultivate the portion of field through traditional old time ploughing method (traditional ploughing equipments pulled by 2 oxen). This is the formal opening of cultivation in the village. Parents bring their children of 1-3 years (who not before performed this) at the field and touches their hands to the ploughing tools in order to become a good farmer in future.
Thaghm Festival, Passu
Praying for Agricultural Productivity during Thaghm Festival at Passu
During old time polo was also played in this day but with the modernization this is not practices now. During 2006 Thagm festival Aga Khan Youth & Sports Board local committee for Gulmit (AKY&SB) arranged a Paidhal polo tournament in which about 4 teams from Gulmit participated. Polo on horse was also played between Ghulam Baig and Siraj-u-din. The people enjoyed the whole day with this celebration.

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