BATOKISHI A NOBLE TRADITION
March 4, 2011 3 Comments
By: Roshan Bano
Batokishi is a noble tradition based on values and principles of resource sharing, mutual help, and give and take. Helping a household or a family materially wherein an event either a celebration or mourning such as marriage or death rituals are taking place, with the objective of material and moral support is called Batokishi.
Till some 30 to 40 years back when Borushwoo people were comparatively isolated ,and exclusively agricultural and had subsistent economy, homemade and home grown things like wheat, butter, sheep goat, woolen clothes etc. were given as BATOKISHI. The same tradition is also been practice across Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral.
The beauty of BATOKISHI is that it is not one side material help. It does not benefit only the Batokishi recipient rather it equally benefits the Batokishi Giver as well. In earlier times anything received as Batokish was memorized while in modern times it is recorded so that it can be paid back whenever the Batokishi Giver will have a wedding or an event which involves huge costs in her or his family.
Apparently Batokishi seems an inessential and insignificant tradition but it’s not so in reality. When considered a little deeply and analyzed in the context of the circumstances prevailed some 30 to 40 years back, one will be able to realize the economic and social significance of Batokishi for both Batokish giver and Batokish recipient.
In majority of societies’ marriage or wedding ceremonies and in case of Gilgit-Baltistan burial rituals as well are attached to deep personal and emotional feelings considered to be the most special occasion in an individual’s life. Every possible effort is put to make these occasions more magnificent, memorable, and enjoyable in case of weddings in terms of both feasts and celebrations.
Here I will concentrate the relationship of Batokishi and wedding ceremonies in the cultural perspective of Gilgit-Baltistan. Wedding is highly ceremonial and ritualistic surrounded by many festivities, rituals that extend to at least a week. (In some cases longer than a week)
Here I am not going to give an extensive details of the all the festivities of the wedding ceremony but a brief summary. Understanding the nature of festivities is important because it can approximate the expenses the household or the family arranging a wedding ceremony has to bear and the importance of Batokoshi.
The family arranging marriage has to invite all the close relatives both maternal and paternal including married ladies of the kinship or tribe (Shilajiyoo) along with their children and husbands. Invitation goes to all no matter how distant they are reseeding at least some 4 days earlier to the wedding day (Garey Gunch).The household arranging wedding is responsible for all the arrangements i.e. meals, accommodation of all the invited relatives till the end of the wedding ceremonies.
Point to be note is that meat (CHAP) must be the main ingredient of both lunch and dinner. For breakfast and other lighter meals Qista, Khamali (breads made of wheat flour), and Maltas (butter) with Tan Boom Chai (strong tea in terms of milk and tea leaves) is must. Compromise is not tolerated in this regard
SAPIC OVAS or KOYOCHER QAW
Just a day before the wedding day family has to invite all the villagers not only neighbors for the lunch and it must be lavish and everybody participates religiously. Sometimes meat of a whole cow/bull is consumed on this occasion besides butter (Maltash) with grounded wheat cooked with butter of 20 30 Kgs (Sharbaat).
The main, the most important feast of the wedding ceremony, meal for the Garowni (Barati) .It must be lavish, huge, well cooked , well presented, it must be perfect from every angle. At least 2 to 3 goats or sheep are slaughtered to make Supra (huge chunks of boiled meat) with Sharbaat. Piles of Qista and Khamali (bread) fruits and what not.
I must mention it here that both family of bride and bride groom arrange all these festivities independent of each other for their own relatives with their own finance, there is no exchange of anything.
Garowni Basoman (Rukhsati) is done and all the relatives will move off to their home but not empty handed, each family is given Hanik (dishes)
Just 2 to 3 days later of wedding another festivity called Dagovan Gasap is arranged. In Dagovan Gasap, again a huge and lavish feast but comparatively smaller than that of wedding is arranged. Not only immediate family members but so many other relatives of bride are invited to home of bride groom and vice versa. Here ends the wedding feasts.
The expenditures required for so many festivities and celebrations from Davve Washiyash to Dagowan Gasap were hardly affordable for any single family no matter how rich and prosperous a family is.
Batokishi was the tradition that enabled the family to bear all expenses and to meet the cultural expectation and ultimately saving the family of the social pressure.
The best thing about Batokishi is that it is as much applicable in these days as it used to be some 30 to 40 years back. It is not outmoded, and out dated tradition rather it is getting more needed in these days of inflation and economic crisis. Batokishi can be maintained anywhere in the world be it a village or a metropolis in any corner of the world.
The communities of Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan are no longer exclusively agricultural and limited to a specific geographical area. We are heading towards industrialization and modernization very rapidly. Naturally our culture is getting changed including wedding ceremonies, things given as Batokishi will automatically get changed but the essence and spirit of BATOKISHI will remain the same and that is MUTUAL HELP,RESOURCE SHARING and GIVE AND TAKE for economic and emotional stability.
We are supposed to preserve what deserve to be preserved and do not board on band wagon of industrialization and modernization. We must preserve such an all time and all place applicable tradition of our culture.
The writer has gained masters’ degree in Sociology from Karachi University and currently working as a researcher.