Saturday, March 20, 2010


An attractive feature of the Pukhtoon way of life is the joint family system which signifies their deep love for the family's solidarity and welfare. The desire of communal life emanates from a consideration of economic security and integrity. All the family members, even the married sons, live jointly in a house large enough to separately accommodate each married couple under the authority of the father who, as head of the family, manages the family affairs and exercises an immense influence in his own domain.
All the earning hands of the family, married as well as un-married sons, contribute their share of income to the common pool of resources. All expenses on food, clothing, education, health, birth, marriages and deaths are defrayed from this common fund. The mantle of authority falls on the eldest son's shoulders after the death of the father or when old age renders him unable to discharge his functions efficiently. The system of Nikat (ancestral line) which regulates the shares of losses and gains, debts and liabilities of each family, is the mainstay of Pukhtoon society. The internal management of the household rests with the mother who exercises her authority within her own sphere of influence. The joint family system, however, is gradually giving way to individualistic trends under the impact of modern influences. It is losing its hold, particularly on educated classes and well off sections.

RESPECT FOR ELDERS The Pukhtoon children are taught to show a great degree of respect to their parents and elders. Senior members of the family, particularly elders, command great respect. Parents are properly and reverently looked after in old age and every effort is made to provide them with all possible comforts. There is a famous Pashto maxim that "Paradise lies under the feet of the parents" and Pukhtoons true to their faith leave no stone un-turned in obtaining their blessings. It is generally believed that parents' curses bring sorrows, miseries and hardships. Sons and daughters, therefore, refrain from incurring the displeasure and curses of their fathers and mothers.
The elder's opinion prevails in all important matters. Kashars or youngsters of the community rise from their seats as a mark of respect when an elderly person enters the Hujra. Youngsters are normally not expected to talk or laugh loudly or smoke a cigarette or huqqa in the presence of their elders. Even in tribal Jirgas the younger members of the village are not allowed to speak. Everything is left to the discretion of their elders.

MANNERS: The Pukhtoons have several ways of greeting and salutation. Strangers passing on a road or thoroughfare exchange courtesies such as " Starrey ma shey" ( May you not be tired) and "Pa khair raghley" (welcome). This is answered by "Khudai de mal sha" (May God be with you), "Pa khair ossey" (May you live in peace) and " Ma khwaraigey " (May you not be poor). The Pukhtoons usually embrace their friends and relatives when they meet them after a long absence and warmly receive each other by a hearty handshake. This is followed by a train of questions about each others' welfare like " Jorr yey" (Are you alright?), "Khushal yey" (Are you happy?), "Takkrra yey" (Are you hale and hearty?) "Warra Zagga Jorr di" ( Are your family members hale and hearty ?) and "Pa Kor key Khairyat de" (Is every body well at home?).
A visitor entering a village Hujra is greeted with the traditional slogan of " Har Kala Rasha" ( May you always come) and he replies "Har kala ossey" (May you always abide). Friends while parting commit each other to the care of God by saying "Pa makha de kha" (May you reach your destination safely), and "Da khudai pa aman" (To the protection of God).
When meeting a pious or an elderly person, a Pukhtoon bows a little and keeps his hands on his chest as a mark of veneration. When talking about a deceased person, they often say "Khudai de obakhi" (May God forgive him). If a man suddenly appears at the time of conversation between some or more persons about him, they immediately exclaim "Omar de ziyat de, Oss mo yadawalay" (You have a long life, we were just talking about you ). The Pukhtoons very often use the word "Inshaallah" ( God Willing ) "Ka Khudai ta manzura wee" "Ka Khair Wee" (if all goes well) when they promise to accomplish a task at a particular time.
SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS LIFE One of the outstanding characteristics of the Pukhtoons, as gleaned from their record, is their passionate love for freedom and violent opposition to any infringement of their liberty. They have preserved their liberty by the force of arms despite heavy odds. Inspite of their ignorance of military science, modern techniques of warfare, lack of sophisticated weapons and material resources, they held their own against every invader, including the British who were one of the most powerful empire builders of their time.

Though at times Pukhtoons were temporarily subdued, they could never be held in permanent subjugation or tied in the shackles of bondage. They offered staunch resistance to any one who ventured to encroach upon their liberty and refused to submit tamely to the position of the vanquished. " Their character, organisation and instincts" says David Ditcher, "have made them independent and strongly democratic, so much so that even their own leaders have little real control over them".

It is one of the striking features of Pukhtoons in general and Afridis in particular that they give up their individual disputes and tribal feuds, sink their differences temporarily according to the exigencies of the time, form a Sarishta or take a unanimous decision for collective action and fight shoulder to shoulder against their common foe. This most remarkable trait was duly noticed by Edward E. Oliver. " The most democratic and dis-united people among themselves", he says, "un-controlled and often un-controllable even by their own chiefs, all the clans have uniformly joined in hostility to us whenever opportunity offered".

The Pukhtoons are fond of firearms which they possess for their personal protection, honour and defence of their homeland. " They are never without weapon when grazing their cattle, while driving beasts of burden; when tilling the soil, only their dots. The love of firearms is a trait in their character, they will enlist or work in order to the wherewithal and buy matchlock or rifle, the latter being preferred; and if an Afridi at the end of his service has not sufficient to buy one, he makes no scruples of walking off with his rifle and ammunition ". Being gallant and courageous they love to join the army principally to show their mettle on the battle field.

Unsurpassed in vigil and marksmanship every Pukhtoon is almost an army in himself. The writings of many British officers bear testimony to their magnificent fighting qualities, especially of the Afridis, Mahsuds and Waziris who are described by them as "careful Skirmishers" and the best guerilla force of the world in their own hills. The Frontier, as a matter of fact, became the best training ground and an excellent school of soldiering for the British Officers for about a century. It was on account of their martial qualities that they are looked upon as the "Sword arm of Pakistan".

Among redoubtable Pukhtoon adventurers stand out in bold relief the names of Ajab Khan Afridi, Multan Khan, Kamal Khan, Ajab Khan Yousafzai, Dilasa Khan, Chakkai and Jaggar. LOVE OF INDEPENDENCE By and large the Pukhtoons are deeply religious. The land of these highlanders has experienced the influence of religious leaders for a long time, who, after making their way into the mountains aroused the religious sentiments of the local people and rallied them under the banner of Islam against the enemies of their religion. Besides less known divines, who occasionally sprang up and played their short but spectacular part on the stormy stage of the Frontier, the names of Akhund of Swat, Hadda Mullah, Haji Sahib of Turangzai, Mullah Powindah, Faqeer of Ipi, Mullah Syed Akbar or Aka Khel Mullah, Gud Mullah, Lewaney (mad) Mullah, Karbogha Mullah, Faqir of Alingar and Chaknawar Mullah also figure prominently in the religio-political history of the Frontier. Saints and divines exercised immense spiritual and political influence over their minds and it was on account of their religious zeal and fervour that they proclaimed a holy war (Jehad) against infidels. They fought a number of battles against the Sikhs under the leadership of Syed Ahmed Barelvi Shaheed and Syed Ismael Shaheed and later under the influence of the above noted religious divines and stalwarts.

Owing to their strong religious feelings for their brethren-in-faith, the Turks, a large number of Pukhtoons, especially the Afridis, deserted in large number from British army in France, Mesopotamia and Egypt in the First World War. They were averse to fighting against their co-religionists and that was why the General Officer Commanding in Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, was compelled in November, 1917 to repatriate three Indian officers and 202 other ranks and all Frontier Pukhtoons of 58th Rifles from Egypt and recommended ban on their recruitment on account of their "bad behaviour".

The Pukhtoons are punctilious in offering their daily prayers and observance of fast during the month of Ramazan. Writing about the devotion of Pukhtoons to their religion, Major H. B. Edwards says, "whatever occupation they might be engaged in, whether business or pleasure, it was always interrupted at the hour of prayers". He adds, "in my tent, which was always full of people concerned in some case or other, they would break off the conversation, and ask to be excused for a moment; then take a scarf and spreading it in the corner towards Mecca, devoutly commence their genuflections ". Each Pukhtoon village has a mosque in which a Mullah or Pesh-Imam leads the daily prayers and imparts religious education to the village children. The Mullah is served free meals and he receives Zakat and alms from village folk. Alms giving and Zakat is common and Haj is performed by men of means. Alms giving is especially resorted during adversities and food is also served to the poor. On the occasion of Eid, Barawafat, Muharram, Shab-e-Barat and certain other religious day rich food is prepared to invoke the blessings of Allah.

The holy men, Saints, Sayyids and Mians are held in deep reverence. They give amulets and charms to the people which are considered to be antidote to illness, disease, calamity and evil influences. They are shown utmost respect and their hands are kissed in acknowledgement of their priety. The practice of Piri-Murid (Teacher-student relation in suphism) is also common. A Pir or religious preceptor guides his Murid or disciple n his spiritual progress. For this purpose he takes a Bai'at (affiliates himself) at the hands of the Pir who enjoys the reputation of holy man and has the ability to guide him in establishing commission with God. Sometimes lunatics and impostors are also mistaken for saintly persons. But the younger generation equipped with modern education and imbued with the spirit of enlightenment, is immune from such influences LOVE OF INDEPENDENCE Being orthodox Muslims with strong religious susceptibilities the Pukhtoons hold holy men and their shrines in high esteem. The devotees pay frequent visits to shrines and enter the presincts bare-footed and entreat the saint's blessings for the restoration of falling health, wealth and success in certain other ventures. The more a saint enjoys reputation, the more his tomb attracts devotees. Certain ziarats (shrines) have a special reputation for the cure of specific ailments and are credited with certain other virtues. For example prayers are offered for the birth of a male child at Ziarat Kaka Sahib and Pir Baba and visits to several other shrines are considered effective for curing of madness, rheumatism, dog bites, hysteria and certain other ailments. The visitors and devotees, particularly women bring back a handful of salt or gur which is believed to be a cure for illness. For Muslims, Friday is a sacred day and visits to the shrines are paid on Thursday or the night preceding Friday. Pukhtoons, like all good and devout Muslims, raise their hands and offer Fateha while passing by a graveyard.
Shrines are the safest places in tribal areas and the tribesmen keep their articles in them without any fear of pilfering. No one dares to lay hands on any article kept in a shrine due to the sanctity of the place and possible wrath of the buried saint. Reputable shrines are often under the charge of a care-taker (known as Munjawar in Pashto and Mutawali in Urdu) or a fakir who lives on the premises and collects donations both in cash and kind from the devotees to provide water and food to future visitors ( langar ). The trees around a shrine are never cut and t he birds enjoy complete safety. The observance of Urs or annual festival at various Ziarats is also common. The devotees attend these gatherings annually for two days in large number and engage themselves in Zikar or religious meditation.
Eid-ul-Fitr or Kamkay Akhtar and Eid-ul-Azha or Loe or Star Akhtar are the two main festivals which are observed with great zeal. In some places a fair is held on the Eid day while at others on the day following the Eid. The boys make large bonfires called Katamirs and kindle them on a hill top in the evening, preceding the Eid Day. Young and old alike, wear new clothes on Eid Day, and the entire area wears a festive look just as Christmas is celebrated by the Christians.
Moharram and Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi or Bara Wafat' are also observed with deep reverence and due solemnity. Pious men among the Pukhtoons engage themselves in prayers particularly during Lailatul Qadar or " the night of power ".On this night the Holy Quran was revealed to the Holy Prophet of Islam. The night of Lailatul Qadar has been described in the Holy Quran as better than a thousand months. Muslim jurists differ in their opinion regarding the date of its occurrence. Some of them are of the opinion that this night falls on 21st or 23rd of Ramadan while others believe that it falls on 27th or 29th. However, all the doctors of Mohammadan Law agree that Lailatul Qadar falls during the last ten days of the holy month of Ramazan and every prayer is accepted on this auspicious occasion. TOBAY WESTAL: After a persistent dry spell when drought conditions prevail, the people of the villages headed by the Mullahs come out to the fields and offer prayers, at least for three consecutive days. This is called " Tobhay Westal " or supplicating God for rain. Besides, children of the village come out in streets and collect wheat, maize and barley from the houses of the village. While collecting grain the children chant in a chorus:- Ka cha ra karruloo ghanam - Khudai ba war kerri sra zaman ( God in turn will give sons to anyone who gives wheat), Ka cha ra karraloo joowar, Khudai ba war karri war pa war (God in turn will give sons one after another who gives maize) Ka cha ra Karreley Orbashey - Khudaya ta war Sara Kha shey (May God bless those who give us barley). After the collection of grain the children cook it and after serving it to the poor they pray for rains. They also go to the nearby graveyard and sprinkle water on graves.
List SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS LIFE Doud Dastoor or customs and traditions are in fact the product of historical, geographical and economic conditions. Evolved in process of time, social usages become the guiding principles of day to day life and all individuals living in a particular society feel bound to abide by them. It is a common phenomenon that customary laws of the masses are not free from religious and even superstitious influences. In Pukhtoon customs at least some of them are also not immune from such influences. The use of amulets and talismans has already been mentioned. Besides, strange ways and means are devised by them to protect themselves from the evil eye and evil effects of Jinni and demons. Pukhtoon women believe that evil spirits cannot come near a newly born infant if a knife or a dagger is put near its pillow or at its head. Therefore, they always keep a sharp edged weapon besides the infant's pillow to ward off evil spirits. The child may be sick and suffering from diarrhoea, dyspepsia or any other malaise, but the old grandmother will ascribe it to the influence of some evil spirits. Instead of taking him to a doctor's clinic for treatment, she mutters charms and throws red hot metal in cold water to scare away the evil spirit or a possible evil eye. This, she believes, is the only remedy to cure the infant's illness. And if these charms do not work, she is convinced that the child is suffering from throat trouble. She takes him to some experienced man or woman of the locality for raising its uvula. This, in Pashto called is Jabai Porta Kawal. The raising of uvula is common all over the tribal areas. Some raise it by putting the index finger inside the child's mouth while others put a handkerchief around child's neck and give him a few jolts after muttering of charms. Not contented with this the mother will put amulets (Tawiz) round the child's neck as a protection against th e evil eye or Bad Nazar . The amulets written by a pious man and woven in a string are suspended round the child's neck. Some of these amulets are sewn in a cloth, some are wrapped in a leather or silver leaf inset with costly stones, depending on the financial position of the child's parents. Sometimes a black spot (Kalak) is put on the child's forehead in an attempt to protect him against the evil eye. In certain clans a child is deliberately kept dirty and ill clad for warding off the evil spirits. The claws of a leopard or a lion are also sometimes hung around their necks. The old grandmother also believes in charms. She takes a handful of wild rue (called Spailanay in Pashto) which is considered a panacea for warding off a malignant eye. She puts some wild rue on red hot coals and starts revolving the bowl round the ailing child while chanting some magical incantations. This is called "Nazar Matawal" or removing effects of the evil eye. After the wild rue is burnt it is kept in the door way of the house with smoke emitting from it. Sometimes an old woman takes a few red chillies, revolves them round a sick persons's head and then puts the pods in the fire. There is a famous maxim in Pashto that the Da ranz ranzoor raghaigee, Da stargo ranzoor na raghaigee", i.e. an ailing person may recover from illness but ailment caused by an evil eye cannot be cured'. On other occasions a goat or lamb is slaughtered and the blood of the sacrificed animal is sprinkled on the door or wall of the house to ward off possible natural calamities. But as a result of the general rise in education, the educated tribesmen no longer believe in such superstitions. They take their children straight to a doctor's clinic in case of illness. When a baby is carried out of the house, a veil is placed over its face to protect it against the possible affect of an evil eye. Some men and women are notorious for a malignant or evil eye. It is generally believed that their looks can break even a hard stone into pieces. Similarly mothers desist from carrying infants while visiting a house where death has occurred because of fear of Bad Ghag or evil voice. They also have recourse to some other expedients to guard the child against evil spirits. Besides this, several other superstitions are prevalent in Pukhtoon society. For example, the cawing of the crow on a house wall or top of a nearby tree is considered as a sign of the impending arrival of some guests. Similarly, falling of flour on the ground at the time of kneading is interpreted to mean that some guests or visitors can be expected. The howling of dogs at night is considered a bad omen, indicating the coming sickness or death of some one in the family. The winking of the right eye lid is taken to mean a happy tiding and throbbing of a left eye lid as a bad omen. In case of a hiccup, it is generally believed that an absent friend or relative is remembering. While removing shoes, if perchance, one shoe lands on top of the other, it is thought that the person would undertake a journey in the near future. If the right palm starts itching, it is believed that money will come into his hands. On the contrary if the left hand itches it is generally believed that the person will lose some money. The crowing of a hen, which is quite un-usual, is considered a bad omen and it is killed the moment it crows. The sight of a dirty man or a sweeper early in the morning is considered un-lucky. Similarly a distinction is made between fortunate and unfortunate days. Certain days are considered lucky for journeys while others are believed to be un-lucky. If a person dies at a place other than his village or home town, a black hen is slaughtered before the engine of a car or bus at the time of taking the corpse to its native place for burial. Similarly a black hen is slaughtered in between the fore-legs of the horse or mare of the in which the corpse is carried. The tribal Pukhtoons refrain from incurring the ill-will of Pirs and Fakirs and even men possessed with an evil tongue called Tor Jabay . The speech of Tor Jabay is considered more deadly than a lethal weapon and his curses may become harbingers of misfortune. The Pukhtoons generally rely on dreams. The sight of a white or green object, in a dream, is considered auspicious while black objects, fire and floods etc are considered inauspicious. They have a strong belief in destiny. Fate is considered as absolute and un-changeable. Some strange notions are found among Pukhtoons about the " Whirlwind of dust which spins abut in autumn". It is generally believed that the whirlwind is caused by a jin. Similarly when a storm blows for two or three days, the Pukhtoons are heard saying that some innocent man might have been brutally assassinated somewhere. A child born feet first is called "Sakki". It is generally believed that "a few gentle kicks from one, so born", can relieve pain in the back. During the winter when it rains continuously for a week or so, the children erect dolls made of flour clay called "Ganjyan". The ganjyan are considered a means of stopping the rain. The taking of FAL or omen from some religious book is commonly believed and practiced. On Shab-e-Barat the village women assemble in a house. Each woman puts a ring, comb or some other object in an empty pitcher and a small boy or girl is deputed to take them out one by one. At the time of taking out an article, a woman recites a few verses such as "Ma jagh kawa ma spara, Khudai ba dar karri pa tayyara" i.e. God will provide you with food even without ploughing fields. The better the verse in composition, the more it is considered auspicious. In matters pertaining to superstitions Pukhtoons now do not believe much in fabulous tales due to the general rise in education. But the illiterate, particularly those who live in inaccessible hilly tracts, are comparatively more superstitious than the people living in the plains. Charms and omens are generally believed in by the un-educated masses, especially the women. Though there are several references to the existence of spirits in the Holy Quran and Ahadith , yet belief in genii is considered as a superstition by almost all the European writers. It would not be without interest for the readers to know some thing about Pukhtoon's belief in jins. The Pukhtoons believe in genii, evil spirits and Churail etc. The genii, it is believed, can assume the form of a human being, beast, animal or of anything they want to. The genii are stated to be of two kinds ___believers and non-believers and good and bad. If a good tempered jin takes a fancy to a person, it will attend upon him like a faithful and devoted friend, ready to render him any service even at odd hours. The genii or fairies called Khapairay in Pashto are particularly known for their friendliness and there are innumerable tales of fairies sincerely devoted to their male friends. These creatures, which are described as resplendently handsome, help their friends in making fortunes. It has almost become proverbial about a poor man prospering in life that he has drunk a fairy's milk. Any person possessed by a Jin is believed to have the power of discovering stolen articles and predicting the future. When asked to give information about a certain object, he or she will excite himself or herself in a state of hysteria or induce a trance to make the predictions. A man acting like a lunatic is believed to have been possessed by a Jin. It is a common belief that the Jin possesses the victim's tongue and controls all his actions. When it occurs, a Sayyid, Mian or a learned Mullah credited with the power of exorcising the evil spirits is immediately sent for. He recites a few verses from the Holy Quran and conjures the jin to depart. The exorcist addresses the jin in a threatening language to leave, if soft words and entreaty prove of no avail. When the battle of hot words does not produce the desired effect, then the exorcist writes a charm on a piece of paper and burns it under the afflicted man's nose. Recourse is also made to certain other methods to force the jin to depart. Sometimes the afflicted person's hand is held in a firm grip by a strong man. He presses it as hard as he can till the patient starts crying out in agony and pain and appeals for mercy. It is believed that the jin speaks through the patient's tongue. The exorcist, therefore, asks it to leave and swear by Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon), who is believed to be the king of all genii, not to come again. Sometimes short wooden sticks are put in between the patient's fingers and his hand is pressed hard. If this device also fails then the exorcist places a frying pan on the fire with some ghee (melted butter) in it and throws a charm in the boiling ghee to make the jin flee o
SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS LIFE WWW.MUSAFAR.COM [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] << BACK It is a common belief tha a man can obtain the services of genii by means of talismans or certain invocations. For this purpose he undergoes the rigours of a chilla for a period of forty days. Chilla is of two kinds ____spiritual and temporal. The spiritual chilla is practiced for the purification of the soul whereas the temporal chilla aims at making wordily gains by means of controlling genii. During the period when anybody is undergoing the arduous task of chilla , he remains in a state of meditation, keeps himself aloof from the people and chooses an un-inhabited or deserted place, for self-mortification. He follows his Pir's instructions both in letter and spirit. By sitting within a circle (Hisar') drawn around himself he remains vigilant and contents himself with little food and water barely able to sustain him. There is the possibility of his becoming mad, if he moves out of the circle contrary to his Pir's instructions or frightened out by the resisting jin. It is said that during the last few days of Chilla genii appear before the probationer in horribly hideous shapes to frighten and lure him out of the circle. If he, succeeds in completing the prescribed course without falling a prey to the genii's insidious temptations, he gains control over them and the leader of the genii appears in person before the man for carrying out his orders and all the genii, old and young alike, follow suit. The Pathan has been dubbed cruel, treacherous, miserly and, in fact, every epithet of an opprobrious nature has been showered on his devoted head at one time or another by men who were either incapable of seeing things from the Pathan point of view, and of making allowances for his short comings, or who were so hidebound by the humanity mongering sentimentality, which passes today for the hall mark of liberal mind that they shudderingly dismissed the Pathan from their thoughts ( presumably with pious ejaculations) as an un-reclaimable savage" (The Hon. Arnold Keppel) The character of the Pukhtoons has always been a favourite theme of writers. The detractors of Pukhtoons have painted them in the darkest colours by describing them as savages, brutes, uncouth, cruel and treacherous, while the sympathetic writers have praised their manly bearing, open-heartedness and inherent dignity. To the latter set of historians they are not as barbarous as depicted. Their otherwise black character is studded with many noble virtues and their vices are the "Vices common to the whole of the community". Mr. Temple described them as noble savages "not without some tincture of virtue and generosity". The spirit of adventure and enterprise is characteristic of this hardy race of hillmen. They have their own sense of dignity and would not submit to injustice or insult even at the risk of their own life. The reason of blood feuds is not their vindictive nature or blood thirstiness but a spirit of liberty and the will to uphold justice, defend the right and avenge the wrong. Pride of race, consciousness of natural rights and intolerance of injustice are the remarkable traits of the Pukhtoon character. " The pride ", says H.W. Bellew, " of the Afghans is a marked feature of their national character. They eternally boast of their descent, their prowess in arms and their independence and cap it all by "am I not a Pukhtoon". Tall, muscular and healthy, Pukhtoons are fond of sports and war alike. Edward E. Oliver's evidence of Pukhtoon character is worth quoting. "He is", he says " undoubtedly brave to rashness, sets no value upon life, either his own or anyone else's. Trained from youth to feats of strength, endowed with wonderful power of endurance, he commands the admiration of most Englishmen". Summing up the character of Pukhtoons the Hon Mountstuart Elphinstone wrote, " they are fond of liberty, faithful to their friends, kind to their dependents, hospitable, brave, hardy, frugal, laborious and prudent". Firstly the people of one stock bound together by common ties of flesh and blood dwell in villages. Secondly, the standard of morality is very high in Pukhtoon society and cases of moral turpitude are almost un-heard of. Moreover, the Pukhtoons are so jealous of the modesty and sanctity of their women that they cannot tolerate even appreciation of the beauty or other attributes of their women by an outsider or stranger. They consider such an admiration as an insult to their sense of honour. Immoral practices, especially adultery, elopement, amorous advances, infidelity and illicit liaison between man and woman are put down with a heavy hand and death is a normal penalty in such cases. The guilty pair is generally killed if caught flagrante delicto. It is because of such deterrent punishment that no one dare cast an evil eye on a Pukhtoon woman without peril to his life. According to the Pukhtoons code of ethics, strangers refrain from loitering about un-necessarily when women set out for fetching water or bringing in grass or wood etc. They also desist from speaking to a woman and similarly it is considered indecent on the part of a woman to talk to a stranger except when she is in dire need of his help. "A woman or girl above ten years old", says Robert Warburton who served as Political Agent in Khyber Agency for eighteen years " is never permitted to address any male not connected with her by relationship. A stranger has always to be avoided, and if by any chance a woman comes across one in a narrow lane or road, she generally covers up her face and stands with her back towards him until he has passed ". It is also one of the etiquettes of the Pukhtoons to lower their eyes, gaze at the ground and step aside from the path when a woman comes across their way. Respect for women is also evident from the fact that she is not interfered with in case of tribal hostilities, blood feuds, village affrays or brawls. During the prosecution of feuds women are exempt from reprisals. It is considered below the dignity of a Pukhtoon to fire at women and according to tribal customs they are at liberty to supply food, water and ammunition to their men engaged in firing at a hill top or entrenchments outside the village. " During the prosecution of feud ," says L. White King, " it is generally understood that women and children under 12 are exempt from reprisals and are free to pursue their ordinary avocations without interference." In this connection Merk remarks that "during the blood feuds it is the first aim of each party to gain possession of the water supply of its opponents, and if it is under fire of the enemy, women who are theoretically never fired at, have to undertake the dangerous task of bringing water to the beleaguered garrison". In the words of Mountstuart Elphinston "no quarter is given to men in the wars, it is said that the Vizeerees would even kill a male child that falls into their hands, but they never molest women, and if one of the sex wanders from her caravan, they treat her with kindness, and send guides to escort her to her tribe". Though some writers have described tribal women as hewers of wood and drawers of water or only an economic asset', they are not socially as inferior as depicted. No doubt, they work hard but it is only a division of labour between man and woman. Though the husband plays a dominant role and the wife a subordinate one in a tribal society, this does not mean that women do not enjoy any respect. They duly exercise authority and influence in their own spheres. As a daughter she is loved, as a wife respected and as a mother venerated. There is a famous saying of the Holy Prophet ( Peace Be Upon Him) that heaven lies under the feet of mother, and Pukhtoon hold his mother in high esteem. She has a great deal of say in her domestic affairs. She controls the household finances and wields an over-whelming influence over her sons, daughters and daughters-in-laws. Besides household work and superintendence of children, the Pukhtoon code of ethics enjoins upon women not to burst into laughter in the presence of strangers or persons with whom they are not closely related; not to address their husbands by name, nor to speak loudly, and avoid being heard beyond the four walls of the house. The wives were required in the past to show the utmost regard for their husbands, remain in attendance while the husband was taking his meals and walk a few paces behind the husband while he went out of the house. There is a famous saying that there are two places eminetly suited for a woman, oen is her own house and the other the grave. But all this does not hold good any more. The status of woman has undergone a remarkable change during the past five decades, principally due to education and economic prosperity. Thanks to the efforts of government, big strides have been taken in the field of education. At present more than three thousand educational institutions are functioning in the length and breath of tribal areas with 2,42,862 students on roll. These include 2,13,021 male and 29,841 female students. The spread of education has immensely broadened their outlook. Women are no longer considered inferior and they enjoy the privilege of exerting their healthy and loving influence in domestic spheres.
It may be recalled that there was a strong prejudice against female education, particularly in rural areas before the creation of . The conservative and orthodox sections of the society, felt shy of sending their daughters to schools. It was considered disgraceful to send daughters out of doors, and there was a growing feeling that education other than religious, would have a baneful influence on the mind of the young girls. The parents were apprehensive that female education would provide an opportunity to young girls to write amatory letters to young men. But these prejudices against female education no longer exist. Times have greatly changed after and a pleasant revolution has taken place in the ideas of the Pukhtoons about female education. Tribal women are hardy, industrious, devoted and trust-worthy. They do the entire household work and also help their husbands in the fields. They faithfully stand by their husbands both in weal and woe and resist every foul temptation. " Neither would I have it inferred from the anecdote " says Lt. Arthur Conolly, "that the Afghans ill treat their women; on the contrary, they are both proud and fond of them. Those who dwell in the country have such confidence in their women that if they absent themselves from their homes, they leave their wives in charge of their establishment and a married woman may without a shadow of scandal entertain a traveller who happens to arrive at her husband's tent during his absence". TOORA (literally Sword, but means bravery) and " Marrana" (chivalry and courage) are considered essential traits of Pukhtoon character and women feel proud of husbands possessing such laudable attributes. They possess courage themselves and admire such qualities in others. Even in their folk songs they exhort their lovers to display bravery and courage on the field instead of running away like cowards. The following Pashto couplet and hundred others best illustrate their earnest desire that their near and dear ones should perform acts of valour and heroism on the battlefield: Translation: " May you come riddled with bullets," The news of your dishonour, cowardice may not reack my ears. Writing about the courage of Pukhtoon women Mrs Starr who served as a staff nurse in for a number of years says, " the women are not a bit behind the men in pluck. I remember one, typical of many, who, though unable to move and unlikely to live owing to a severe bullet wound, invariably replied to any enquiry on my part, " I am well; I am all right ". See, she is an Afridi, said her man proudly. " Pukhtoons go to any length in defence of their women folk and their history is replete with many daring examples. One such example was furnished by Ajab Khan Afridi, the hero of the famous Miss Ellis drama on the Frontier. In March 1923, the Frontier Constabulary, with the help of regular British troops, raided Ajab Khan's village in Dara Adam Khel. The troops with scant regard for the sanctity of women, searched his house and according to certain reports women were subjected to search and insult. This news beat across his mind like a thunder-bolt and Ajab Khan's anger knew no bounds. Infuriated by the alleged insulting behaviour of the British troops, he vowed to wipe out the insult with insult and retrieve his honour by a similar action. He raided the enemy's houses and succeeded in lifting Miss Ellis from the heart of Kohat cantonment. He, however, treated the girl honourably and released her after redemption of his honour. Pukhtoon women wear simple dress. It consists of a Partoog (Trousers), Qmees (Shirt) and a Dupata (chaddar or scarf). Old women prefer loose and baggy trousers, long shirts with wider sleeves and coloured clothes. Fashionable clothes and footwear are now becoming popular among the new generation owing to constant intermingling of the tribesmen with the inhabitants of cities. New dresses are becoming common, as tribal girls are not averse to modern comforts and fashions. With the march of time, old heavy silver ornaments have been discarded and replaced by modern and delicate ones. Pukhtoon women use a variety of jewellery such as pendants, bracelets and necklaces. The pendants include Pezwan , Nata or Natkai (large nose rings), Chargul , Peeta and Mekhakey ( small nose ornaments), Walai , Jarmootey, Dewadi and Duroona ( large ear rings ), and Teek worn on the forehead. The bracelets comprise of Wakhi , Bavoo , Karrey and Bangri or bangles. Haar and Taweezoona may be mentioned among necklaces. Besides the use of silver ornaments called Sangley (Pazaib) worn round feet near ankle, Ogey or neclet, Zanzeer or chain and finger rings, are also in common use. << BACK The Paizwan is suspended below the nostril edge. Chargul and Nata are worn on the right side of the outer part of the nose and Maikhakai and Peeta , comparatively smaller ornaments, are worn on the left side of the nose. Haar and Taweezoona consist of three to five flat silver pieces about one and half inch square each, are worn over the breast. The Zanzeer , a silver ornament about ten inches in length and imbedded with shining stones, is also suspended from the shirt collar on the breast.

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