Naurooz Celebrated in Chitral Pakistan
Naurooz, the spring equinox festival, was celebrated in northern Chitral and Lotkoh valley of the Chitral district on March 21st, marking the commencement of spring with trees putting forward fresh shoots and blossom. In Chitral, it is a time of the year when the newly sprouted blade of grasses and flowers fills the air with aroma and the land with motley colours immediately after receding of the white sheet of snow. For people, then this particular time is the right season to celebrate.
Naurooz in the beginning of New Year is a refresher of commitment of the locals to practice noble deeds for the broader community welfare, adopting the tradition of hard work in their professional life. Besides, it is time when one evaluates one’s achievements in life. Thus numerous time-honoured values, such as self-evaluation, self-discipline, creativity, truthfulness, happiness progressiveness and plenitude emanate from Naurooz.
The important socio-religious aspect of Naurooz is that it always encourages the social bonds by bringing together the community, promoting passion for charity and ensuring that the more needy members of the community are not overlooked. These are some of the guiding principles keep in mind whilst celebrating Naurooz.
Chitral has a tradition of more than thousands year of celebrating Naurooz, which was introduced into the valley from Central Asia. A few days before the festival, a wave of exultation passes through the rank and file most visibly amongst the younger. Purchases of new cloth, footwear and other items are made for every body in the family.
A traditional mass ‘spring cleanliness’ campaign has historically been associated with Naurooz in northern Chitral, when women and young people in remote rural regions start cleaning their houses, bedding, utensils, linen and furniture in addition to repairing, painting and whitewashing the traditional Chitrali houses.
On the morning of Naurooz, prayers for the welfare and prosperity are offered. Traditional cuisine, famously shoshp, a special Chitral confectionery is served with walnut oil poured in the middle. Without this traditional sweet, Naurooz is less likely to be considered formalized. Families exchange a variety of dishes and personally visit each others.
“The happiness on Naurooz is intended to make us happy throughout the year”, says Ms Nazhat, a school student from village Booni. Women go on picnic to the nearby lush green pastures and play flute, play games and have leisure time. The philosophy of Naurooz is to promote happy feelings amongst people in the beginning of the year.
There are ranges of traditional sports e.g. free style polo to be played for the first time after a long discontinuation of the sport in winter. This year polo was played at Booni polo ground. In addition, hide and seek is another favorite sports of the youngsters. Adult enjoy fighting each other with snowballs.
Still another practice related to Naurooz is that groups of energetic young people in villages go to the roof with particular flowers, which they deliver to the family through the opening on the centre of Chitrali house as souvenir. They sing special songs for the occasion. In return the families pay them either in cash or kind, with which they arrange a night party and keep vigilant night, laughing, telling folk stories and other entertainment.
Meanwhile, regular night musical programmes also feature as important component of Naurooz. One of such programme was arranged in PTDC Booni through the support of Anjuman-e-Taraqi Khowar (a society for the promotion of Khowar culture). To begin with, as many as 15 poets presented their poems which followed a mega musical concert to be continued until late night through the participation of expert folksingers and folkdancers.