FOOD

KATWA

 TRADITIONAL DISHES INCLUDED KATWA, BEEF CURRY MADE WITH WHOLE SPICES AND WITHOUT ANY GHEE OR OIL IN HUGE EARTHENWARE CONTAINERS KNOWN AS KATWA.WHEAT, GRAM, MILLET BAJRA AND BARLEY GRAINS WERE COOKED IN VARIOUS WAYS TO SERVE AS BREAKFAST OR SNACKS.

MURUNDA

 MURUNDA WAS MADE OF ROASTED WHEAT, GRAM,BAJRA OR BARLEY MIXED WITH MELTED GUR. BHANGOOR WAS BAJRA BOILED IN WATER WITH GUR . OGRA WAS A KIND OF PORRIDGE MADE OF ROASTED AND MASHED WHEAT OR BARLEY. WHEAT OR GRAM BOILED IN WATER SWEETEN WITH GUR WAS A CHARITY FOOD BELIEVED TO BRING RAINFALL.

HERBS OF VARIOUS KINDS WERE USED FOR HEALTHCARE. ANISEED (SAUNF), AJWAIN AND ISAPGHOL WERE THE POPULAR PANACEA FOR ALL TYPES OF DIGESTION DISORDERS, NEEM LEAVES AND KHAMJEERA SEEDS WERE USED AS BLOOD PURIFIERS. A NUMBER OF HOME MADE HERBAL CONCOCTIONS LIKE JOSHANDA, PURGATIVES AND EMULSIONS WERE CURRENT FOR TREATMENT OF A NUMBER OF MALADIES THAT FLESH IS HEIR TO.

MIANWALIANS ARE TALL, STURDY AND HANDSOME WITH FAIR COMPLEXION AND AQUILINE FEATURES. THAT IS WHY THEY ARE READILY ACCEPTED IN ARMED FORCES AND POLICE.MARRIAGES WERE MARKED BY SIMPLICITY. THE DOWRY CONSISTED OF A SIMPLE TIN BOX CONTAINING JEWELLERY, A FEW DRESSES AND A FEW ITEMS OF KITCHEN-WARE. CHARPOYS, BEDDING AND ALUMINUM UTENSILS WERE LOADED ON CAMEL ?BACK.

THE BARAAT, LED BY THE LOCAL BAND, USUALLY A DHOL, A SHEHNAEE AND A BAG- PIPE BLARING AWAY AT FULL VOLUME ARRIVED AT THE BRIDE?S HOUSE IN THE AFTERNOON. FIRST THERE WAS A COMPETITION OF MARKSMANSHIP FOR YOUNG MEN FROM THE BRIDEGROOM?S SIDE. THEN THE BRIDEGROOM PUT ON BRIDAL DRESS PROVIDED BY THE BRIDE?S FAMILY. THIS WAS DONE AMID LOUD JUBILATION, WITH FIRING INTO THE AIR. NIKAH WAS USUALLY SOLEMNIZED ON THIS OCCASION. ANY KIND OF REFRESHMENT, EVEN A GLASS OF WATER FROM THE BRIDE?S HOUSE WAS REGARDED AS A DISHONOR.THE CELEBRATION CONCLUDED WITH A TEARFUL DEPARTURE OF THE BRIDE. AT THE THRESHOLD OF THE BRIDEGROOM?S HOUSE ONE OF THE AGED LADIES OF THE GROOMS FAMILY HELD UP A COPY OF HOLY QURAN FOR BLESSING . THE BRIDE KISSED IT AND ENTERED THE HOUSE.

DEPENDING ALMOST ENTIRELY ON THE ARID SOIL FAR A LIVING ABOUT 90 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION HAD NOTHING TO DO AFTER SOWING THE CROPS ?MAINLY WHEAT ? TILL THE HARVEST IN MARCH. THE LONG SPELL OF ABOUT SIX MONTHS WAS SPENT IN PRAYING FOR RAIN, DOING SUNDRY HOUSEHOLD CHORES AND LOUNGING AROUND. WORKSHOPS OF CARPENTERS, SHOEMAKERS AND BARBERS SERVED AS A SORT OF CLUBS WHERE THE FARMERS SPENT THE DAY PUFFING HOOKAH AND EXCHANGING LOCAL GOSSIP RANGING FROM MARRIAGES TO CATTLE BREEDING, QUARRELS TO CHILDBIRTH AND WHATEVER ELSE CAME IN HANDY. WIT AND WISDOM OF SOME OF THESE SIMPLE UNLETTERED VILLAGERS SOMETIMES TOUCHED SHAKESPEAREAN HEIGHTS.WHEAT HARVEST IN MARCH & APRIL WAS FOLLOWED BY A SPELL OF MARRIAGES, FOR IT WAS THEN THAT THESE PEOPLE GOT MONEY ENOUGH TO DEFRAY THE EXPENDITURE. WHAT REMAINED WAS SPENT ON LITIGATION. SCARCITY OF WATER IN REMOTE RURAL AREAS OF THAL HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PROBLEM. THE ONLY SOURCE OF WATER IN THOSE AREAS IS THE LOCAL TOBHA, A 3 TO 4 FEET DEEP POND OF RAIN WATER. ITS WATER WAS USED FOR DRINKING, WASHING AND BATHING .EVEN THE ANIMALS SHARED WATER OF THE TOBHA WITH THE HUMAN BEINGS. THE STINKING MUDDY WATER WAS OF COURSE UNFIT FOR DRINKING. BUT THEN WHAT ELSE WAS THERE FOR POOR VILLAGES TO DRINK? EVEN NOW SOME OF THE OUTLYING VILLAGES IN THE DISTRICT DEPEND ON TOBHA FOR THEIR WATER REQUIREMENTS. THE TOBHA WAS ALSO A SYMBOL OF CULTURE AND THEME OF POPULAR FOLK SONGS.

KACHA , A TWO TO THREE MILES ACROSS STRIP OF FERTILE LAND ALONG THE LEFT BANK OF THE INDUS, WHICH RUNS RIGHT ACROSS THE DISTRICT FROM NORTH TO SOUTH, WAS A RICH SOURCE OF FOOD FOR THE REST OF THE DISTRICT. THE ALLUVIAL SOIL SEASONALLY IRRIGATED AND REPLENISHED BY THE RIVER WAS IDEAL FOR ALL KINDS OF CROPS AND FODDER. CONSEQUENTLY, CAMEL-CARAVANS CARRYING FOODGRAINS, VEGETABLES, MILK, GHEE, POULTRY KEPT UP A STEADY SUPPLY-LINE FOR THE ARID THAL AREA. IN NEARBY TOWNS OF THAL THESE THINGS WERE USUALLY BARTERED AGAINST CLOTH AND OTHER THINGS OF DAILY USE. KACHA REED JUNGLE WAS ALSO RICH IN GAME. IT WAS A FAVORITE HAUNT OF DEER, DUCK, PARTRIDGE AND QUAIL HUNTERS. WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF CHASHMA BARRAGE, ALAS; THE KACHA IS NOW OCCUPIED BY CHASHMA LAKE. THUS THE LIFELINE ON THE PALM OF MIANWALI HAS BEEN ERASED.

WITH ITS ETHNIC ROOTS IN THE NWFP, THE MIANWALIAN CULTURE IS BASICALLY TRIBAL CULTURE. HEROIC TRIBAL TRADITIONS OF CHIVALRY, HOSPITALITY, HONESTY AND COURAGE ARE STILL HALLMARKS OF MIANWALIAN?S SOCIAL LIFE. ON THE NEGATIVE SIDE TRIBAL FEUDS AND VENDETTA USED TO BE A PERNICIOUS BANE OF THE MIANWALIAN SOCIETY. RECONCILIATION WAS USUALLY BROUGHT ABOUT THROUGH JIRGA. WHEN THE JIRGA FAILED TO ACHIEVE A RECONCILIATION AN APOLOGY OFFERED BY THE SISTERS AND MOTHERS OF THE MURDERER TO THE FAMILY OF THE VICTIM NEVER FAILED. WOMEN WERE HELD IN SUCH HIGH REGARD THAT IF A PERSON CAME ACROSS HIS DEADLY ENEMY ACCOMPANIED BY A LADY, HE QUIETLY PASSED BY HIM. HAD THE TWO MET ALONE, THE ENCOUNTER WOULD HAVE RESULTED IN THE SURE DEATH OF ONE OF THEM.

IN VILLAGES THE LADIES WENT ABOUT FREELY WITHOUT ANY BURQA OR HIJAB (VEIL).AND STILL THERE WERE NO RAPES OR SCANDALS. THERE WAS NO CONCEPT OF EXTRA-MARITAL SEX. MEN KNEW THAT EVEN THE SLIGHTEST OBSCENE GESTURE WOULD BRING DEATH. WOMEN IN RURAL AREAS WILLINGLY DID OUT-DOOR AGRICULTURAL CHORES LIKE HARVESTING, FODDER CROPPING AND ALL THAT. SURPRISINGLY THAT HIJAB-LESS SOCIAL ATMOSPHERE WAS FAR SAFER THAN THE PRESENT DAY GLAMOROUS LIBERTY ENJOYED BY WOMEN IN POSH URBAN AREAS OF THE COUNTRY. IN REMOTE RURAL AREAS OF MIANWALI THAT HEALTHY ATMOSPHERE STILL PREVAILS.

THE GOOD OLD CULTURE REMAINED INTACT TILL THE 1960?S, THEN THINGS IN MIANWALI , AS ELSEWHERE IN PAKISTAN, BEGAN TO CHANGE AT TREMENDOUS PACE THE FOUR PIDC FACTORIES IN DAUDKHEL INITIATED URBANIZATION OF THE LOCALITY. CHASHMA BARRAGE, CHASHMA NUCLEAR COMPLEX AND PAF BASE FURTHER ADDED TO THE SPEED OF URBANIZATION. MUSHROOMING OF EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS COMPLETED THE CULTURAL CHANGE. CONSEQUENTLY THE MIANWALI OF TODAY IS AS MUCH URBANIZED AS ANY OTHER PLACE IN PAKISTAN. THE PARTICULAR MIANWALIAN SERAEKI DIALECT IS NOW ALL THAT IS LEFT OF MIANWALIAN IDENTITY. THE PURE UNADULTERATED MIANWALIAN CULTURE IS NOW AN ENDANGERED SPECIES LIVING A PRECARIOUS LIFE IN REMOTE OUT-OF-THE-WAY VILLAGES ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF THAL.

 

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