Last night, the northernmost Indian villages in the Turtuk block started their Nowruz celebrations with all of the customary customs. This year, the community gathered at a mountain’s edge for “Babyus-e-Harib,” which marked the start of the cultural celebration. The villagers also painted eggs as part of the festival.
Nowruz marks the first day of the spring season and is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on March 21. In Balti culture, it is believed to be a new year like many other parts of the world including the Central and West Asian nations. The festival plays a significant role in strengthening the ties among people based on mutual respect and the ideals of peace and good neighbourliness. Its traditions and rituals reflect the cultural and ancient customs of the civilizations of the East and West.
The Turtuk block includes five villages namely Bogdang, Chanlungkha, Turtuk, Tyakshi and Thang (before one reaches the borders of Pakistan) along the twisting Shyok river that cuts through the Nubra Valley among the gigantic Karakoram mountains.
Few know that this region was also part of the ancient Silk Route and that its Muslim inhabitants are the Balti people who are now spread on either side of the Line of Control in the Baltistan region since 1971.
Renowned Balti musician of the village Ustad Mohammed Ibrahim and his troupe started playing the drums at midnight on March 21 followed by the lighting of the large bonfire.
This is ‘Babyus-e-Harib’ which means ‘beginning of the summer’, and this time it was organised by Hashmat Ullah, a vibrant young fellow of Turtuk and owner of Apricot Villa Guest House. There are specifically four folk songs that bring out the essence of the ritual and they were all sung by Ibrahim’s team. Several villagers and some tourists gathered in Turtuk village to sing and dance around the fire in traditional music.
Later, in the evening, Tyakshi village, led by its Gram Panchayat and in association with the Indian Army, organised a short cultural programme with traditional performances of folk dance and song. The key performer, Master Abdul Rahman was the seniormost artist known to have the maximum knowledge of folk songs in the village.
All enjoyed traditional Balti moves. Unlike previous years, the celebrations were not as grand given Ramzan commences the day after.
In Turtuk block (with a 100 per cent Balti population), during Nowruz, every year special dishes, like prapoo, rxap khoor, zan, kiseer, baaley and sweets are cooked and presented to neighbours, and family members. As per Balti tradition, all locals paint boiled eggs (byabjon) and participate in an egg fight. Each tries to break the egg of the other, and whoever wins is believed to have good luck during the year.
The locals took to social media to reach out to their family members and friends, including the ones in Pakistan, to share wishes and graphics of their celebration in the Turtuk block. The festival brought out the feeling of one nation and one hood. (ANI)