Hunza: The residents of Passu, Hussani, Ghulkin and Gulmit celebrated the seasonal, agricultural, Taγ̌m Festival today, in the upper areas of Hunza District. The Taγ̌m Festival (Taγ̌m is the Wakhi word for “seed”) is celebrated for two days.
The first event of this festival is called “Pirkiten”. During “Pirkitn” the delicious cultural dish SEMN is prepared. “Mul” is another speical dish prepared for this festival. During Pirkitn the “Sutors” are also made from a plant that is locally called “Pishpishunuk”.
The next day “Thumang” is performed early in the morning by members of the Shogun Putuk tribe, in a very old house. Branches of a plant locally called “Yarz” are put on fire, creating huge clouds of smoke inside the house. The smoke travels out of the house through the roof opening; the direction of clouds of smoke, in the ancient times, was believed to point towards parts of the village where high crop yield could be expected.
After Thumang all the villagers gather in a field, where an aged person from the Shogun tribe ploughs a small portion of the land with a pair of Oxen, symbolically inaugurating the farming season. This process, in Wakhi, is known as “Chirg Din”, or ‘making a line’.
Minors, clad in colorful dresses, and wearing beaded traditional white hats, are made to touch the ploughing tools, symbolically ‘initiating’ them as ‘farmers’.
Later, a man dressed as a Bull (Duruksh) entertains the audience by chasing them, trying to hit them (symbolically) and making clouds of dust. Children and youth run around saving themselves from the Man-Ox.
Afterwards, all the villagers eat Semn, Semn Bread, Mul and other modern dishes collectively, symbolizing fraternity, cooperation and good will for one another.
Prayers are offered for good, healthy crops, global peace, harmony and love at the end of the ceremony. Women also participate in the event by preparing the traditional cuisines and by witnessing the festivities.
Taγ̌m festival will be celebrated in other villages of Gojal, as the temperature rises and the earth softens, getting prepared for farming activities.