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  January 06, 2012


In The Name of ALLAH The Almighty

Khowar Calendar---Suggestions

All reservations, reflections and suggestions aside, let us salute the organization MIER (Mother-tongue Institute for Education and Research) and its members for undertaking and fulfilling a much needed task of publishing the first Khowar calendar. Thumbs up! We all Chitralis owe you many thanks.

Since the publication of the calendar many reservations and reflections have been raised from various quarters. Some people object that a few typical Khowar names of months have been neglected and unfamiliar names included instead. Even my friend Jalal uddin Shamil, in his observations on this very page, pointed out certain shortcomings of the calendar followed by worthy suggestions. I agree with most of whatever he has said. But as for the reservation about neglecting certain familiar names, especially those which either reflect natural phenomena occurring in those months or reaction to natural phenomena, it needs a bit of reasonable thinking and discussion.

I believe we should have no two opinions regarding the fact that Chitral is an area of heterogeneous climatic conditions with more than 1200 scattered villages in an area of as large as 14,850 sq km. If it is spring at the southern belt, it is still snowy winter in the northern parts at the same time. And not unusually both the regions may have different names for the same month. If we standardize a name for a month keeping in view the natural phenomenon occurring at one region only and exclude the names used in other regions for the same month, it would be a great injustice. For example the equivalent of April is ‘Zhoorh Ispru’ in some upper villages of Chitral. If we think more reasonably April is too late to be called Zhoorh Ispru in Drosh or such other villages of comparatively lower elevation, because tree blooming is almost over in these areas by this month. Let us take another. June is called ‘Siri Leti’ in most of the villages of upper Chitral. But in lower Chitral it is not siri leti in this month. Even threshing is almost over; needless to say it is peak harvest time of wheat crop. Same is the case with other months like Cha’n Chori and Khol Kremi. We don’t have to unwisely standardize a name used in one village at the cost of another. We should reach a consensus through seminars or conventions involving all the stakeholders, and determine (agree upon or coin) names which reflect unanimity and uniformity.

As for general discussion on calendar development and types, there are as many as forty calendars currently in use in the world. They are divided into six kinds:
1. Lunar Calendars
2. Solar Calendars
3. Lunisolar/ Solilunar Calendars
4. Calendars based on Rules
5. Calendars based on Astronomical Observation
6. Calendars based on Astronomical Calculation

The traditional calendar of Chitral, I believe, is Solar Calendar. Because in this calendar we have years which accord with the seasonal cycle and begin at a fix point—the vernal equinox, 21st March (Phatak Dik). This very day is the seasonal marker of spring in this region and has been celebrated as Phatak Dik or Nowroz since the time immemorial in the far and wide of Chitral, regardless of regional, tribal, religious, sectarian and class differences. Scientifically also 21st March is the exact time when the Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted and it is the start of spring in the northern hemisphere. Here I have a suggestion to MIER that this very day be taken as the starting day of Chitrali year in the calendar, as it has been and is a traditional seasonal marker.

As for the number of months in our traditional calendar, some people are of the opinion that there are more than twelve months in our traditional calendar. I personally favour this view. Would it sound odd if we include 13 months in a year?? This should not sound naive, because there are such calendars in the world which consist of more than twelve months (e.g. the Positivist Calendar). The obvious convenience of this type of calendar would be: all the 13 months will have an average length of 28 days (365.24 ÷ 13 = 28.09) and we will have no worries of freak months, leap year and leap baby problems; and almost all the months will exactly have 4×7-day weeks.

Another aspect to think about is that our years should not necessarily be those in established solar calendar, like 2013/2014 etc, and they should not be translated as “Ju hazar oche josh troi/josh chor”. We should have our own calculation system. Our calendar years should be calculated either from the time in history when first people/tribe came and got settled in Chitral or from the time when Khowar language came to be evolved and used a means of communication among hetero-lingual tribes.
After all we don’t need to synchronize our traditional calendar with established solar and lunar ones; because both are simultaneously in our use today and we are well aware of them. What we need to do now is develop our own independent calendar which should reflect our cultural features and manifestations and glimpses of our history.

Zahoor ul Haq Danish




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