Wakhi culture goes on display at Heritage Museum
By Mathab Bashir
ISLAMABAD: A three-dimensional creative display depicting the indigenous folk culture, traditions and lifestyle of the Wakhi/ Pamiri community living in Gilgit-Baltistan region has been created on Thursday at Lok Virsa Heritage Museum.
The diorama is established under the ongoing joint institutional cooperation programme between Pakistan and Norway, which facilitates Lok Virsa to undertake improvement and expansion of the existing cultural displays at the Pakistan National Museum of Ethnology (Heritage Museum) showcasing Pakistan’s magnificent living heritage.
One can see here a complete traditional Wakhi house with all its paraphernalia including kitchen utensils, traditional male and female dresses and headgears, agricultural tools, carved wooden pillars, stove, old guns.
Lok Virsa Executive Director Khalid Javaid explaining about the community informed that the Wakhi people were originally native to the area between the Hindu Kush and the Pamir mountains. The name ‘Wakhi’ is derived from the name of their traditional homeland—the Wakhan corridor.
‘Pakistan is a land with unique ethnic diversity, specifically on the basis of language. The diorama focuses on the distinct features of the Wakhi community. The present Wakhi settlers have come to Chitral at various times. Under British rule, the Wakhi immigrants settled in different parts of Chitral and now their majority lives in Gojal tehsil of Hunza,’ Javaid said adding that they celebrate different festivals which have deep routed connections with the local traditions.
For instance, Pathik festival is celebrated at the end of March to welcome arrival of spring. The houses are cleaned from smoke stains and every body wears new or at least clean clothes. The homes are decorated with pictures on the walls made from flour while the elder person of the family or locality comes and congratulates the family members and special prayers are also held in Jamaat Khana and sports competitions are arranged.
Lok Virsa’s chief executive acknowledged the support and contribution of the Norwegian Government, in particular their mission in Islamabad for supporting Lok Virsa in documenting, preserving and promoting the regional folk culture and languages of various provinces/ regions adding, ‘without their funding, it was not possible for his organization to deliver this national task’.