People of Kargil revived their traditional food festival called ‘Mamani’ by organising a festival in village Khardun Chiktan.
Buddhists and Muslims from eight villages of Shakar-Chiktan participated in the festival that celebrates the local foods, promotes harmony and is a remembrance of their ancestors.
The event was organised by Himalayan Cultural Heritage Foundation in collaboration with Voluntary Education and Utilization Society (Venus) of Khardun Chiktan. This year’s event was held at the base of Chiktan’s historic building Razi Khar.
In all, 35 traditional dishes including Thugpa, Popot (grain soup), Hrtsrap Khur (yeast bread), Markhur, Azoq (Skinn and Kabchey), Puri, Poli (pancakes made with buckwheat), curd, Suggoo (Kash or Pachae) and Gangtur, etc. were served.
Former Executive Councillor from Chiktan, Mohsin Ali, was the chief guest and scholar, poet and naturalist Bashir Ahmad Wafa was also present on the occasion.
The celebration of Mamani in Ladakh pre-dates the advent of Buddhism. At that time, people worshiped various spirits called Lha.
During Mamani, each household prepares a dish or even a set of dishes and offered the same to each other in the name of the Lha. This helped people bond through food and also honour their ancestors.
However, in due course, celebrations changed. But some Buddhist and Muslim communities still offer special charity and organise special prayers for their ancestors by preparing traditional dishes to celebrate this festival.
Over the last few decades, the celebration of Mamani had started to fade. But in 2016, Kargil-based cultural activist Anayat Ali Shotopa gathered his family and friends and organised a revival of the festival.
In 2018, Himalayan Cultural Heritage Foundation formally took over the responsibility of the festival.
A food competition was also held on the occasion and the dishes were judged on their taste, presentation and varieties. Kukshow village won the first prize, Khardun B was the runners up and Chiktan-Lungba won the third prize.