Mahraka part 1
The word of Mahraka has derived the Pashtu word “Maraka” which means delegation. The maraka is employed in a simple case where the disputes were generated by minor injuries or small amounts of money or land. If the two disputing parties are members of the same lineage and have no other issues that divide them, then they simply invite two local elders to investigate the case and propose a resolution. In Pashtun Wali system Maraka is the part of Jerga. Jerga is sometimes interchangeably used with maraka (discussion, conversation, or dialogue), but maraka, a form of small-scale jerga, is used among Pashtuns to deliberate and make decisions about specific local policies or problems or to settle minor disputes. Participants in the maraka are male elders of the village or local lineage(s) and are called marakačiān. It is a social gathering for a specific topic in Chitral and elsewhere in Northern Pakistan.
In historical chronicles what we have found is that this kind of social gathering took place in “Moghul Darbar”. Where political subordination was expressed through presentations of tribute in exchange for ceremonial gowns or other sumptuary taken of however and traditional idiom, expressed in archaic Persian as official court language of Chitral, was a local variety of Taruf I from indigenous accounts of Mahraka ceremony indeed explicate the behavioral protocols of court retails from which taruf idioms were metaphorically derived.
As Hussam ul Mulk says as I quote
“The ruler used to have his meals in the company of the notables twice a day. This system is called Mahraka. It would be wrong to consider the Mahraka as only taking meals as it conceals in it may conceal in it many important secrets of government…. Here the encouraged and honored his favorite by giving the higher position in precedence …. In case someone seats lower their status, the ruler would notice it and call his up their rank. The person involved would seat assigned to him…At the end of meals, those desires of making some petition would do so. This was known as Khowsik”.. (Hussam ul Mulk ,62:1971)
The rituals of the royal Mahraka are also still echoed within every Chitrali household. More or less informally at ordinary meals according to rank of a guest present, but with more meticulous attention to court by regalia and idiom at wedding celebrations. The traditional architecture of the Kho house was indeed a conceptual microcosm of the Mahraka state room of the Mehtar’s court. Domestic space was partitioned into a series named levels and platforms on either side of a central hearth, connoting relative rank which a household hearth could use to cerograph his favors precisely like the Mehtar at court.
Who were seating the Royal Mahraka
The best sources we have are the Hussam ul Mulk Notes and various oral traditions as noted during my research.
According to Shahzada Hussam ul Mulk, that the officials could not seat the Mahraka proceedings. It means the dressed officials like military and revenue officials. Asaqal Nasir Ali Shah ex Asaqal of State of Chitral says
I have seen numerous Maharajas during the reign of H.H Shuja UL Mulk and H.H Nasir UL Mulk. During the proceeding as noted in Shuja UL Mulk’s time that When Mahraka started various notables arrived in Mahraka room, seated according to their ranks than Mehtar arrived all stood up and kissed Mehtar’s hand and seated. After some discussions, meals had been served to the participants but all officials, including myself, Mehta you Dilaram Khan, Ataleq Sarfaraz Shah and Lieutenant Mir Gulab Shah were standing in the room during Mahraka and launch time. After the launch, Mehtar sent us meals which is called “ Ishpan’. He further added that the participants were Mehtarjou Asfandiayar Khan, Bahadur Lal (Khoshay of Torkho), Khush Lal (Khoshay of Torkho), Cherbar Noor Ahmad Khan of Maskur, Kamran Khan Lal (Zundre of Ayun), Hakim Abdul Murad Khan (Riza Khel of Yarkhun) and others etc.
When we see the two different statements of Hussam UL Mulk and Asaqal Nasir Ali Shah we safely conclude that any notables connected to official ranks were prohibited to seat the Mahraka. We further study documents of that time about mentioning personalities who were not seated the procession is that all of them belong to the Revenue Department of the State of Chitral if they were not part of the said department than they certainly seat the Mahraka.
Code of conducts of royal gatherings (Mahraka)
I got below information from the two un-published books of Shahzada Hussam ul Mulk and oral traditions recorded from Mehtarjou Hussain Ahmad, Asaqal Nasir Ali Shah Bajge and Baramush Muhammad Sarwar Khan of Torkho.
1. The minimum age limit was 30. During the reign of Mehtar Aman ul Mulk, he wants to invite his elder son the Heir apparent Sardar Nizam ul Mulk to attend the Mahraka proceedings, but nobility objected strongly than Mehtar withdraw his proposal. Nobility view was that heir apparent was too young and another objection was that in the presence of father a son could not seat the Mahraka.
2. Proper dress was obligatory for the participants and proper was the dress of nobility which was central Asian. These were included Chadur and Chapan.
3. Mullahs and Qazis were not allowed to seat the Mahraka but later period of Shuja ul Mulk some Qazis were invited than notables objected strongly. During the reign of Mehtar Nasir ul Mulk a separate Mahraka was organized for Mullahs.
4. Yasawul was in charged of the processions.
5. All seated the floor but the later period of Mehtar Nasir ul Mulk chairs were used.
6. Servants were not allowed as thoroughly discussed in above.((Hussam ul Mulk, 65:1971:Bajge 2004