Cultural Pluralism Festival, Gojal Hunza

Cultural Pluralism Festival, Gojal Hunza

In the bosom of the lofty Karakuram peaks, loud speakers scattered music in all directions. A huge number of men and women were, clapping, dancing and swaying on the tunes of Shina Music. Talib Hussain Talib, a prominent vocalist of Shina language, was singing his famous song, Soomar Laila, in the event titled Wakhi Tajik Cultural Pluralism Festival, 2006; in the scenic valley of Gulmit. Performers from the six main cultural heritages of the region had been invited to this festival. Dramas, songs, skits, local games and a range of other events adorned the already bewitching valleys of Gojal, in Hunza.

The event was organized by the Wakhi Tajik Cultural Association (WTCA), Pakistan. The Association is registered with Lok Virsa Pakistan and Ministry of Culture. The objective was fostering commonality and appreciating diversity of local cultures. This festival was the first organized effort of its kind to focus the richness that adherence to humanity and pluralism can bring about in the sectarianism hit north of Pakistan. After the year long cessation of life, and the annihilation of more than hundred young and old, men and women, the need for such efforts are highest. It is through objective socialization that people can be coaxed to forget the minor differences and become partners in harnessing the harsh realities offered by the geographic and political remoteness of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The festival allowed the proponents of peace and inter-culture harmony a wonderful chance to speak their minds out on one hand and narrating the beauty that colors of the local cultures present, on the other. If a study of the different sects, based on languages spoken were to be formulated, interesting an interesting paradox develops. Majority of the Sunnis speak Shina; most of the Shias (Ithna Ashris and Noor Bukhees) speak either Burushaski or Balti, a significant number speaks Shina as well. The Shia Ismilies speak almost all languages, Shina in Puniyal, Wakhi in Gojal and Ishkoman, Burushaski in Central Hunza and Yasin and Khowar in Gupis and Yasin Tehsils. The language bond can be used to trigger integration at all levels.

While some divisions might be seen in the sect-language paradox, musical tunes have a “universal” harmony in the entire region. It is for this reason that a tune composed in one language (culture) gets replicated in the songs of all other languages, immediately. Famous songs, having varying lyrics in different languages, are sung by performers in their own languages without much effort. The musical instruments are also the same through out the region. Sitar, Flute, Dadang, Damal, Surinaae are common to all traditions and cultures of the region. Even the beats of the Saaz, traditional sets of organized music, are similar.

The commonality in the regional cultures can be used to scheme the uphill task of regional integration, that some call nation building, for other purposes.

The festival had been planned in association with the Aga Khan Rural Support Program and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The said organization can do the region a befitting service by telling us how we are related and, thus, promoting peaceful coexistence. Thank you WTCA, Pakistan for stirring our sentiments and making us think. The program was a practical example of how cultural pluralism and commonality can be combined for the cause of development. This example must be followed by those who love peace and appreciate the differences that exist in the creation of God.


Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

5 thoughts

  1. ya ali madad
    this is riaz ahmad hunzai from islamabad aaphara.i am basically from hader abad hunza.i want to give best wishese toall my brothers and sisters of hunza.
    with best wishes ya ali madad


  2. ya ali madad

    i am irshad gojali from gulmitiq i send wishes to all ismali jamat .hunza pakistan and others of the world

    irshadali gojali
    A.K.U.H Karachi


  3. All the festivals that we celebrate have some profound meaning in it and they have some pragmatic purpose also.

    If we take the example of Eid, we all know that why it is being celebrated but when it comes to the purposes that it serves along with the religious one; primarily it is a psychological one. We all need some days of break in our life from our regular job. Sometimes we take it voluntarily but mass don’t understand the purpose of taking break and it is for these people, the festivals serve better that anybody. They are forced to enjoy life and thus they can improve the quality of their life.

    There are some other purposes also that a festival serves and usually you will find that people meet each other along with their families and thus improve their social life.

    So now you can understand the meaning of celebrating a festival and we expect that you will also spread the message celebration the world over.


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