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The First Sindhi Topi Day – پہلا سندھی ٹوپی دن December 6, 2009

Posted by Farzana Naina in Culture, Karachi, Pakistan, Sindh, Sindhi.
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KARACHI: The people of Sindh will celebrate a unique cultural day – the ‘Sindhi Topi (cap) Day’ – for the first time in history on December 6.

Interestingly, the day was not announced by any political party but the common people of Sindh decided to celebrate the Sindhi topi after a short message service (SMS) spread throughout the province in response to the comments of a private channel anchorperson, who criticised President Asif Ali Zardari for wearing a traditional Sindhi topi during foreign tours. Following widespread criticism of these comments, nationalist parties including Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM), Sindh Tarqi Passand Party (STPP), Awami Tahreek and other groups also supported the idea.

In anticipation of the celebrations, the sale of Sindhi topi has significantly increased and in some cities, the cap has already disappeared from the markets. The Sindhi topi is regarded one of the most essential parts of the Sindhi culture and usually Sindhi people offer this traditional cap and ajrak to their guests as a token of respect. The Sindhi topi is round in shape except a portion in front, which is cut out in different patterns to expose the forehead. Hand-woven Sindhi topis are products of hard labour and made in almost every district of the province. However, the caps produced in Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar and other districts of the Mirpurkhas division are rated better and fetch a better price.

The Sindhi topi is famous all over the world including Pakistan, where not only Sindhis, but also the Pukhtoons and Baloch wear the cap. It is available in different colours but the shape remains the same. There also are two qualities, one is hard and the other is soft, which is supposed to be more sophisticated and has a high price. Another unique, distinct Sindhi cap comprises colourful embroidery and the glasswork.

The National Council of Sindhi Culture and Heritage (NCHCS), in a press statement, has asked the people of Sindh to wear a Sindhi topi along with an ajrak on Dec 6. “The common people of Sindh issued a call to observe the day, thus we too support the call and would celebrate this unique day,” said NCHCS secretary general Ram Kirshan. He added that Sindhis were a nation with a culture of which the Sindhi topi and ajrak are supposed to be the most essential and sacred entities.

“Therefore, we request every Sindhi throughout the world to wear the Sindhi topi and ajrak on the day to celebrate the great civilization of Sindh.”

NCHCS President Ibrahim Kumbhar said for the last few days, some TV channel anchorpersons and journalists have been insulting the Sindh topi, which is a sign of the centuries old Sindhi culture and identity of the Sindhi nation, and therefore the Sindhi people have decided to observe this day. “Sindhis made Pakistan and became a part of the country on the assurance that Sindh would be an independent state in Pakistan, but it did not happen. If all the states in USA have their own flag, anthem and cultural values, why not the languages spoken in Pakistan such as Sindhi, Punjabi, Pushto, Saraiki, Dhatki, Baluchi and others can be made national languages,” he said.

NCHCS office-bearers Syed Syed Jamal Shah and Ghulam Rasool Kunbhar demanded the government to take action against all those involved in insulting the Sindhi culture and asked the PPP leadership to celebrate the day officially. Abrar Kazi and Zulfqar Halepoto of the Sindh Democratic Forum (SDF) have also announced to hold a protest rally in Hyderabad against the offenders.

The Sindh government has also decided to support the call given by the people of Sindh to observe the ‘Sindhi Topi Day’ on December 6, said a press statement issued by the Chief Minister’s House on Tuesday.

Sindh Chief Minister and PPP’s provincial president Qaim Ali Shah said the Sindhi culture is based on the centuries old Indus Valley Civilisation and his government would ensure this culture continues to thrive in the province.

“Every Sindhi views the Sindhi topi and ajrak as sacred entities of the Sindhi culture and they would not tolerate any disrespect of these cultural entities,” said Shah.

“Therefore, I direct the PPP leadership to observe this day throughout the province.”

The chief minister further said the Sindhi people offer this traditional cap and ajrak to their guests as a token of respect.

“The people of Sindh must celebrate this day with full enthusiasm to show short-sighted, anti-Sindh forces that the Sindhi people will sacrifice everything to protect their culture.”

Following comments of a private channel’s anchorperson criticising President Asif Ali Zardari for wearing a traditional Sindhi topi during his foreign tours, the people of Sindh reacted severely and spread an SMS throughout the province to set December 6 as the first-ever ‘Sindhi Topi Day.’

By Amar Guriro