BY JAMIL NAGRI
GILGIT: The four-day International Baba Ghundi Festival held in the Chipursan Valley of upper Hunza near the Pak-Afghan border concluded on Thursday.
It was organised by the Chipurson Local Support Organisation in collaboration with the Gilgit-Baltistan’s tourism department and Aga Khan Rural Support Programme.
The festival was held at the shrine of Baba Ghundi to pay homage to the Sufi saint for his pioneering role in the spread of Islam in the region.
The GB government included in 2010 the festival in its annual calendar and made it a part of events of the international tourism day.
A large number of people from Afghanistan’s Wakhan region near the border and different parts of GB attended the festival which is also credited with bringing together the Wakhi speaking people of the two countries.
People of Chipursan and Gojal valleys and upper Hunza have ancestral cultural ties with the people of Wakhan.
Participants from Afghanistan travel on yaks crossing glaciers and mountain peaks for days to reach Hunza which is possible during only summer — from June to September.
Traditional games, like Buzkashi and polo are among the main features of the festival. Wearing local costumes, musicians and dancers perform on the occasion.
Speaking at the concluding ceremony, Chairman of Karakoram Area Development Organisation Amjad Ayub said that the event provided an opportunity to people of both Chipursan and Wakhan to interact and also develop trade links.
Farman Karim, a resident of Gojal, told Dawn that the people of Chipursan and Wakhan had been carrying out barter trade for centuries. In summer Kyrgyz traders from Afghanistan cross the Irshad Pass and exchange yaks, sheep and goats with shoes, cloth and garments, kitchen utensils and other products procured from markets in Hunza and Gilgit.
The exchange takes place near the shrine of Baba Ghundi. -- Dawn