CHITRAL: In olden times an intending pilgrim would go for Haj on foot, on a ship, on camel back, etc and would return after one year or even more. During all this time he would be totally cut off from his kith and kin who could not even know by any means if the person was alive or not.
On safe return from Haj, relatives, friends and acquaintances would visit the person to congratulate him (it was a ‘him’ invariably). Also people would be keen to hear stories of Haj and the adventure of a long and arduous travel, during the long absence, etc.
Nowadays conditions are totally different as Hajis fly to Mecca and Madina in a few hours and are in constant touch with their near ones on mobile phones even from inside the Haram Sharif, Arafat and Muzdalfa. The tradition of welcoming Hajis has nevertheless grown exponentially over the years.
Formal receptions,? flowers, garlands et al, await a Haji on return home. This scribe who has also returned from Haj but not visited hometown yet was approached on telephone by friends and well wishers expressing their desire to receive me at the Lowari tunnel and bring me to Chitral in a vehicular procession.? I told them this would be against the very spirit of Haj. The Ihram you wear at Haj and that you sleep on the floor under the open sky is not a mere three day drill, I said. It is intended to instill simplicity and humbleness in the heart of the Hajis. The pomp and regalia would negate the spirit of Haj, I said, at which they were not amused.
Culture and tradition develops through everyday habits. Hajis, in order to entertain the large number of Mubarak doyu, that vist them on return are forced to buy dates from the market and pose them as from Madina, or he mixes a drop of Aab zamzam in normal water and presents to guests as Aab zamzam, because it is virtually not possible to bring so much from Saudi Arabia to entertain all guests. Thus practices built up gradually turning into tradition and culture play a role in making people tell lies even immediately after performing Haj.
It is therefore imperative that exaggerations and fallacies in our cultural practices must be pointed out and those who can influence the society make their effort to put things right. .. CN report, 09 Sep 2019