Afghanistan Culture

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Afghanistan culture is around for over two millenniums. Afghanistan is famous as “Land of the Afghans" having nation's official languages as Pashto and Dari.  It is mostly an ancestral and rural society with different parts of the country having their own native language. Despite some disparity, most of the Afghans live traditionally and behave the same. For instance, the religion of Islam is practiced by all except some minority ethnic groups who have right to live in Afghanistan and they are Afghans. Also Afghans live in the same type of houses, same dressing, feel the same way about women's freedom, eat the same food, listen to the same music, and are normally multi-lingual.

Afghanistan shares borders with Pakistan, China, Kirghizstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkministan and Iran. There is a proverb in Afghanistan saying” Water million gets the same color from nearest water million” and the meaning of this proverb is; cultures are copied from the neighbors.

According to this proverb all Afghanistan provinces which are located in borders, are influenced by neighboring countries, for example; Western region speak in Persian and very similar to Iranian language as well as the other regions of both countries are influenced by both cultures across the borders.

I am from Badakhshan North – east of Afghanistan speaking Tajiki language and it is very similar with Tajikistan language. Also the way of living, dressing, consuming food, and singing are much similar and influenced by both residence across the borders of both countries.

As far as mentioned above, Afghanistan has many cultural differences so it is very difficult to indicate them all in one in a half page, so I am going to write about specific culture of Faizabad City the Capital of Badakhshan province called “ Shahgona”.

Shahgona is the word derived from “Shah” means groom and “Gona” means the expensive gift made of silver or gold. In Faizabad City, after the first night of wedding party and for tomorrow, all people who had been invited by the groom officially to participate in the wedding party, they bring special gift to the groom’s house as “Shahgona” means a very valuable gift for groom.

The groom sits outside accompanied by elders and authorities and there is a group of music singing special song of “Shahgona” called “Agha Toyat Mubarak” means “ Congratulation to your wedding. There are two persons who collect gifts from the people and in the meantime the video of this celebration is taken completely for further memorandum and records.

The day after tomorrow of collecting gifts, the relatives of groom sort the gifts and keep a few numbers of gifts for groom and then they take the rest of the gifts to the market and resell for the shopkeepers. Gifts are normally includes home materials such as teapot, fan, carpet, electronics device, computers, TV, heaters, dress, jewelries and other things.

This custom is very helpful for the grooms and especially for the poor grooms who sell their gifts after expending a lot of money during wedding party and get their money back.

Once I was eye witness in my brother –in-Law wedding party in 2000 in Faizabad City, as he had expended 1000,000 Afghani equal to $20000 in his wedding party and sold the Shahgona gifts valued more than $15000 and he started a new business using the amount of Shahgona gifts.

Written by: Sadaqatullah Sadiq, Feb, 08, 2013, Kabul, Afghanistan


About the author


Sadaqatullah Sadiq was born in 1974 in Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. Studied in Economics fields. Worked as Procurement and finance fields in UNOPS and UNODC, MoF currently working as Head of Procurement in Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.

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