Chitral Association for Mountain Area Tourism (CAMAT): Celebration of Local Culture and Cuisine

Chitral Association for Mountain Area Tourism (CAMAT): Celebration of Local Culture and Cuisine

CAMAT

By Shams Uddin

 

In March 2011, the Tourism Corporation Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa (TCKP) and the Chitral Association for Mountain Area Tourism (CAMAT) joined hands to celebrate Navrouz, or the Persian New Year, and to honor the beauty of Chitrali culture and cuisine. In the town of Chitral, a lively festival featuring indigenous cuisine and folk music was held with the aims of sustaining local traditions, as well as promoting the marketability of these cultural elements for regional tourism development.

 

Some of the delicious local foods that were prepared for this special event include Shoshp (a traditional Chitrali desert made with milk and special flour), Chhira Shapik (local dish made with unleavened bread, milk and butter), Ghara, Shoshpalaki (honey bread), Chamborogh (apricot juice), Sanabachi (salty local dish cooked in butter with a mixture of flavors), Mol (a local dish traditionally used as medicine) and Lajeik (local porridge). 

 

Food is generally prepared by women in this region. By highlighting the culinary traditions that are generally associated with women, and incorporating them into tourism activities, the event organizers sought to create economic opportunities for the women of Chitral. This will also help to promote a renewed interest in the subject of home economics and traditional food preparation. On the other hand, the mountain areas of Pakistan are going through an identity crisis.

 

Globalization, modern communications, and economic mobility have brought in external cultural trends that run the serious risk of replacing indigenous originality. A lack of awareness of this issue has caused a loss of cultural identity among youth in the region. Sadly, most people in Chitral have forgotten the names and tastes of their traditional foods. The purpose of this year’s Navrouz festival, therefore, was to bridge that gap. Festival participants and visitors discussed how originality, hospitality and quality service could be improved in Chitral tourism.

 

Some suggestions include creating educational opportunities for formal training in the areas of cooking and related services. Plans to implement these suggestions were made by CAMAT, with the help of volunteers from the Girls Guides of Dolomoch in Chitral town. It was a festive – as well as productive – evening, as music performances and cultural dances were arranged. A large number of people participated in the event and enjoyed the evening. Folk singers, folk dancers, and musicians filled the air with tunes and melodies.

 

Folk dancers whirled with some forgotten dances such as Anaphari (a dance that requires special expertise in rhythm and movement), Tatali, Wawali (“duck dance” in which performers imitate ducks), Chon Rigishi (a dance incorporating comical aspects of daily life) and Barwazi (a dance that incorporates a large traditional cloak). The music of pastoral flutists was also featured in the musical show. This special instrument, the sitar, is played by shepherds while herding the cattle in summer pastures. Its plaintive notes echo in the rocks and create melancholic resonance that enthralls listeners.

 

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