TSEWANG RIGZIN SHARGOLE: The annual festival of indigenous cuisines called ‘Mamani’, a traditional exhibition of ethnic foods of both Muslim and Buddhist communities, was celebrated at Shargole in Kargil, showcasing a rich heritage of ethnic food and also extraordinary communal harmony that the people of the area are known for centuries. Shargole has Buddhist and Muslim households almost in equal numbers. Chairman Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Kargil Feroz Ahmad Khan was the Chief Guest while Executive Councilor Mohd Ali Chandan was the Guest of Honour. The festival was organised by Himalayan Cultural Heritage Foundation (HCHF) in collaboration with Youth Education and Sport Welfare Society Wakha. Appreciating the efforts of the communities for hosting the food festival in the chilling cold weather with continuous snowfall, Feroz Ahmad Khan announced an amount of Rs 20,000 to the participants as a token of appreciation and love. He advocated for nutritious indigenous food culture to be preserved and promoted. He also took pride in the age old communal harmony of the area and said that Mamani is a traditional festival observed by both communities in a very cordial way. Feroz Ahmad Khan assured that LAHDC Kagil would keep a provision in its annual budget to encourage and promote traditional festivals like Mamani. He also suggested that this festival be organized at the district level from next year. During the festival legendary Ladakhi singer Dorjay Stakmo enthralled audience with Ladakhi folk songs. Founder-Secretary HCHF Dr Sonam Wangchok said that the organization has committed to make this event an annual feature of Kargil with the involvement of different stakeholders of the district. Wangchok observed that the annual Mamani festival will help revive and support the preparation and consumption of ethnic Ladakhi foods, whose nutritional value and social importance have been tested over centuries and by generations. Anayat Ali Shotopa, who has been actively involved in reviving Mamani for the last four years, thanked LAHDC Kargil for the support and also appreciated HCHF for helping Kargil revive this unique traditional ethnic festival. Ladakh sends a strong message of communal harmony to the rest of the country with such festivals, he added. As many as 14 ethnic food stalls were exhibited with varieties of traditional cuisines. Food prepared included Papa, Thukpa, Taki, Markur, Sabkur, Marzan, Meat, Tenten, Chhang -local alcohol made out of barley – and so on. Mamani, the festival of ethnic food, is observed in harsh winter month of January and it is marked as the end of the winter season as people believe that with this festival the temperature starts to improve. During the festival, as per traditions, families prepare various traditional cuisines and serve them to all the villagers at a specific place. Both communities make offerings to relatives or forefathers.
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