Amid freezing cold, a group of women at Chanchik area of Kargil gather with their different homemade delicious dishes at a place to distribute it among people as part of centuries-old ethnic food festival known as Mamani.
The traditional festival held across the district is celebrated annually wherein people prepare various types of food and hold special prayers.
The dishes that are prepared on the day include Thukpa, Popot (Grain Soup), Hrtsrap Khur (Yeast Bread), Markhur, Azoq (Skinn and Kabchey) (Puri), Poli (Pancakes of BuckWheat), Curd, Suggoo (Kash or Pachae) etc.
Haji Muhammad Ali, a resident of Kargil, said the food festival is celebrated with lot of enthusiasm. He called the festival as an opportunity to distribute food without any discrimination.
“On this occasion, a variety of food is prepared and then distributed among the people,” he said.
Ali said the festival brings people together and is an example of communal harmony and brotherhood. “Earlier, people used to have less food in winters at home and it was an occasion to feed them,” he added.
Before Buddhism in Ladakh, people used to worship spirits called Lha and at that time the tradition was that whatever dish one prepares at his home, they had to bring out a quantity of each item on this day in the name of the dead spirit.
Another local said the event is not only a food festival but “art to display traditional values of our culture and history most of which are at the dying stage.”
With the passage of time, a lot of new things have been introduced to the list of foods at the festival. Nowadays people bring Rice, Chicken Briyani, Phoulwadi Snacks etc.
There is another tradition related to this festival that still exists, a gift of every dish is sent to the house bride’s paternal home.
The event which is held across villages and towns is considered as one of the main events and a classic example of brotherhood and amity. It is also a special occasion of public gatherings and bonding for cultural and communal harmony.