"Lowah": A Khowar Pastoral Ode (Folk)

Introduction and English Subtitles by Zahoor ul Haq Danish

Throughout the mountainous realms of northern Pakistan, a timeless occupation has provided sustenance to the Dardic communities for generations untold. Within Chitral, Gilgit Baltistan, Kalam, and Bahrain, an unwavering passion for goatherding and sheepherding has taken root, intertwining with their very cultural essence. These traditions, etched into the fabric of their existence, have birthed enchanting rituals and melodic tales that echo through the ages. Passed down through oral traditions, their folk literature illuminates the captivating heritage that now teeters on the precipice of obscurity, threatened by the encroachment of modernity and its mechanized allure.

Amongst the tapestry of Khowar language, there exists a sacred pastoral ode known as "Lowah." Drawn from the heritage of herding and pastoral practices, once the lifeblood of mountain communities, it stands as a testament to their ancestral bond. The word "Lowah" captures the spirit of a goat's carefree descent (wallowing), when its belly is satiated from the bountiful highland grazing, and it purposefully ambles down the earthen driftway towards the humble abode of its master. As twilight paints the sky with a golden hue, a village congregates at the foot of the driftway, known as Niroon, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their cherished goats, guided by the skilled goatherds.

This unique melody celebrates not only the milk-bestowing nanny goat, traversing the soily path with utmost grace, but also honors the young goatherd who tends to the village's beloved flock. Within the harmonies, the spirit of a way of life thrives, an ode to an era where man and beast were intricately entwined in a dance of mutual reliance and reverence. Let this song serve as a poignant reminder, a testament to the beauty and fragility of a tradition that holds the keys to a collective past, a resplendent melody from the heart of the mountains.



پایان الانیو لوواہ
شاریغوت ہانیو لوواہ
کوموران پرانیو لوواہ
لیکو لوواہ لیکو لوواہ

From yonder meadows, the goats are driven in grace,
Come, oh come, let us wallow and embrace!
They graze upon the verdant wheat,
Come, oh come, with nimble feet.
But girls appear, shooing them away,
Come, oh come, to see the play.

مہ بسیر تان ژوتی تان گویو لوواہ
دونیکہ ݯھیر کوری انگویو لوواہ
لیکو لوواہ، لیکو لوواہ

'Midst highland greens, my nanny goat does graze,
Come hither, come hither, with eyes of careful gaze.
Her udders brim, with milk in vessel's measure.
Draw nigh, draw nigh, immerse in pleasure's treasure.

مہ بسیر ٹینځ کوری کسیرو لوواہ
چیلیکیو چھاغہ سے پاریرو لوواہ
لیکو لوواہ، لیکو لوواہ

Through meadows green, my nanny goat will prance,
Come, join the merriment, wallowing in a trance.
Under the willow's shade, she finds her repose,
Come, join the revelry, wallowing as it goes.

ݯھیرو غوݯھار کوری یو گویو لوواہ
زیرغون اسپروان سے ژیبویو لوواہ
لیکو لوواہ، لیکو لوواہ

Like a flowing stream, her milk abundant and pure,
Come and witness the wonder, wallowing secure.
Feasting on meadow's flowers, she finds her delight,
Come, join the chorus, wallowing with all your might.

پژالو نام نیکی بہدورو لوواہ
مہ پژال پھوک اسور باردورو لوواہ
لیکو لوواہ، لیکو لوواہ

Bahdoor, my young goatherd fair,
Come and join us, wallowing in the air.
From youth to manhood, his path he'll tread,
Come and join us, wallowing as we spread.

سورو پھکوڑ نیکی پرپانو لوواہ
گوڑو شوقہ نیکی گیروانو لواہ
لیکو لوواہ، لیکو لوواہ

No Phakol adorning, just a tattered cap hides;
In humble attire, my goatherd strides.
His cloak, worn and frayed, with a collar remains,
Come, join the revelry, wallowing in refrains.

پونگی کیرکوٹ نیکی ݱیکانو لوواہ
ڈیکتو پھیروال نیکی شیمانو لوواہ
لیکو لوواہ، لیکو لوواہ

With worn-out hide-laces, his feet embrace the ground,
Come and gather 'round, wallowing to the sound.
Tattered trousers, a girdle on his thigh,
Come, join the chorus, wallowing, oh, so high!

A Website on the Culture, History and Languages of Chitral.