First ever Yadgha poetry session held in Lotkuh, Chitral


Yadgha speakers of Lotkuh valley in Chitral arranged a poetry program on Phatak day in Garamchashma town of Lotkuh valley. A group of Khowar poets from Upper and Lower Chitral districts joined them in the historic event which was held for the promotion of Yadgha language and encouragement of Yadgha poets. The event provided first ever opportunity to Yadgha poets to come up with their creations, and introduced the participants to new poets from Yadgha language. Earlier, the poets from Yadgha community used to present their poems in Khowar who have recently switched to their native language due to increasing awareness regarding the importance of using mother tongue in the area by Yadgha language researchers and activists. Seven poets of Yadgha language presented their work in their language and got appreciation from the audience. Later on, the Yadgha songs were also part of the music program arranged after the poetry session. The session was organized by Yadgha Development Network, a partner of Forum for Language Initiatives (FLI) in the community.

Phatak, a religious festival is celebrated on February 01, each year by Yadgha speakers in the valley. People in Chitral and Gilgit Baltistan usually celebrate Phatak on March 21 every year, as first day of Persian Solar Hijri calendar but people of Lotkuh valley also celebrate Phatak on 1st February to commemorate the work of Pir Nasir Khisro, the eleven century saint who, the local people believe came to this region in mid 11th century for preaching Ismaili sect of Islam. They cook traditional food (Shenek) and take to the Pir’s abbacy situated near Garamchashma town, to hand over the food to protectors of the place. The management of abbacy (Khanqah) then distributes the sacred food among followers of Pir and reads out his sayings to them. The elders of the community, on the occasion congratulate each other and offer prayers for wealth and health of the community. Young people on the day, after leaving the place go to their playgrounds for entertainment and women visit each other’s houses. This year, they added another activity of holding Yadgha poetry at the end of the day which was supported by FLI. More than 50 people from Yadgha language community were present to enjoy the first every poetry session, held in their mother tongue.

The Yadgha language, also called Lutkuhiwar or Yudga is spoken in the Lutkoh Valley, about 46 km west of Chitral. This valley is connected with Zibak, Afghanistan, through the Daruh pass that is at about 1480 meters above sea level.  There are an estimated 6,150 Yidgha speakers, who are the minority in a majority Khowar-speaking region.