Land of vibrant culture, historically rich and beautiful Balochistan
Speech by Aziz Baloch
My distinguished guests and wonderful audience, we believe every culture is beautiful. Therefore, it needs to be shared and in such a multicultural and diverse society in Canada.
Before I shed some light on Baloch culture, I would like to give a brief description about our homeland, called Balochistan.French archaeologist, Jean-Francois Jarrige discovered through his research in Mehrgarh, 45kilometer from capital city of Quetta, Balochistan that human life existed herefrom 7000 BCE - 2500 BCE.
Such a rich Baloch historical land, on the other hand also carried a painful history. Baloch became victims of many rulers and invaders from the Persian Empire, Alexanderthe Great, Portuguese, Arabs and British Empires. They all left their mark in the land of Baloch. But resilient Baloch people having strong bonds with their culture, language and land they have been surveying till today.
Balochistan is located in strategically important location in the Middle East and Central Asia. It shares 837 km long border in the north with Afghanistan and a 1,173 km long border on the west with Iran. On its south is Middle East, where Strait of Hurmuz is, It has approximately 750coastlines with beautiful virgin beaches. Baloch coastlines were alsothe route of Alexander’s army, however, they could not bear the scorching heat and many of his soldiers died of thirst.
Perhaps many of you know the Baloch land has huge untapped natural resources such as gold, copper and natural gas, with the long and deep blue sea.
Centuries ago, a large population of Baloch migrated from Balochistan to other parts of the world. For the last hundred years, Baloch are living in Turkmenistan, Middle East, and East Africa, as well as currently, in Europe and North America.
Baloch are indigenous, semi- nomadic and a pastoral people. Their existence is based on collective and mutual interests, and losses. Baloch people have their own characteristics; like any other nation in terms of art, music, morals, and customs. Baloch haveit own unique language and identity.
Although Baloch have a history of a nomadicway of life but with time they also are adapting modernity. Particularly, our nation’s new educated and middle class generationis carrying its own norms and values. Those educated and middle class Baloch firmly belong to a secular school of thought.
Balochi music plays an important role in Balochi culture -from wedding ceremonies to storytelling; Balochi folk songs have helped to successfully preserve our rich history. During the harvest Baloch dance in groups. Lewa is one of those dances, similar to African and Arabian people, mostly performed in the coastal regions of Balochistan.
The Latti and Hambo are Baloch indeginous dances.
In their wedding ceremonies, group dance is very popular, called Do'chaapi. Within Baloch there is religious group called Zikri, as I mentioned, Professor Dr. Derry MacLean has done a research they also performed collective dances which are called Chogaan.The Zikri Baloch, due to their Sufi belief, has become target of Islamic fundamentalists, while Baloch with their secular traditions have always protected and respected their Baloch Zikri brethren.
Embroidery in Balochistan, mostly inwomen clothing and decorations, is unique in Baloch culture, it has distinguished them from other cultures. Mah Dem, a Balochwomen involved in embroidery for the last 30 years said` The colorful and distinct embroidery patterns serve as ethnic markers, which differentiate Balochs from Pashtuns (Pathans), Punjabis and Sindhis…Thegirls and older women in interior Balochistan do not use charts or diagrams but create extremely complex designs in a random manner. They are guided by family members and elders of the area.”
Mestaagi - is an offer of a gift among Baloch people when receiving good news such as the birth of a baby, arrival of a relative after long time, and news of victory against an enemy.
Baloch funeral rituals are very simple while for the death of a hero or chief, a ceremony is carried out that goes for forty days, and his entire tribe will participate in his burial ceremony.
Regardless of being a tribal society, Baloch consider their women as full partners. Baloch women have always played a major role being housewife, working in agriculture field for centuries duringthe cultivation period - nomadic women can help graze the flocks and much more. Baloch women have helped their men during the war by treating their injuries and providing support in many ways. For centuries, Baloch do not have nosegregation of sexes nor did they have veil in nomadic life. On the other hand, as respect of women in Baloch society if she interferes during tribal feuds between two warring tribes - both parties will stop fighting.
Baloch women have taken the responsibility of teaching their children moral principle and values. Particularly, killing women in Baloch culture is considered covertness. Similarly in Baloch culture bravery is praised by those who fought and fell in battle. Baloch cursed on those who ran away from the battlefield.
Hospitality is one of the best virtues among Baloch people. For instance, when an enemy entered their house or huts for protection they are bound to give them protection and treat them with honor, there are many such stories in Baloch history; they gave the protection of their enemy. For hospitality, Baloch nomads, a century ago, has a separate tent for their guest and those whom are well off they have guest houses in Balochistan.
In Baloch culture, honesty is their strongest virtue, as one Baloch intellectual describes, “Even a criminal or offender, if apprehended, would never tell a lie even if faced with the threat of instant punishment because telling a lie to avoid any reprimand is against his sense honour.”
Superstition exists among Baloch indigenous people, like many ancient people such as First Nations people of Canada, and aborigines around the world. Baloch believe in sacrifices based on their mythological beliefs, one native Baloch intellectual describes this in birth, puberty and death occasions as the passage of life. They believe their sacrifices will keep them away from the evil forces and to please the divinities.
Embroidery of Balochistan