Traditional skills of Chitrali women

.. by Prof Rahmat Karim Baig

“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”. This  is an English idiom copied from literary circles but in English as well as in other languages Parody is sometimes used to entertain friends or let’s say poets, who often resort to this form. There were cynics who brought a little change in the sentence by saying ‘ the hands that rocked the cradle kicked the bucket’ giving it a very different sense. But the hands that have been referred to did many good things because the mind behind it was positive and left no stone unturned to build the character of their children. It has been a common feature of modern times to observe Mother’s day but we see mothers are left helpless in homes by sons and daughters who hold touch mobiles and watch films of various kinds and thus their money, time and energy  and the mother with her weak  health cannot attend to household chores. This unhealthy behavior of the children alienates the parents and furthers the distance which has already hit our community. Any kind of hard words from the parents causes aggressive actions by the child concerned  such as suicide cases and parents cannot dare to face that end.

The hands were the tools of our old culture where the housewife used to grow local seeds of vegetables of various kinds and then sowed them in the same soil to get fresh vegetables for their kitchens. The old method of getting native seeds of vegetables was a skill of the hands that rocked the cradle of their babies and to feed them they got native seeds to be able to support the economic resources of the house. The old women of Chitral, in order to get better quality seeds, kept intact vegetables like carrots and other such veggies in original form in pits in the grounds during winters and then planted them in early spring  which grew high and blossomed and then seed was ripe and ready and at that stage birds were also attracted towards the seeds as their favourite food but before the attack of the birds the housewife  gleaned all the seeds from different  stalks and stocked them for sowing on larger plots in the next season. This was a skill and now has been forgotten. The original vegetable piece ( one to three carrots for example)  was called, in Khowar, as ‘ BESHTOW’. The more wise mothers also gave BESHTOW to other women in the village if their products were blasted due to severe cold. Now this word BESHTOW is hardly known to the young and proud educated daughters of our community. Cannot we grow local seeds and get better local land produce in the plots that we used to call kitchen gardens? .. Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig, Chitral 10 Feb 2021

One thought on “Traditional skills of Chitrali women

  1. I discussed this problem with NGO members working in the Kalash valleys more than 20 years ago. Can this form of education give a real benefit for the local people or does it serve an export industry with the burden to support their family and the country.

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