For tribesmen in southwestern Pakistan, no Eid celebrations without traditional headgear

QUETTA: Colorful caps are a source of pride for Baloch and Pashtun tribesmen in southwest Pakistan and provide a significant income for shopkeepers ahead of Eid Al-Fitr.

No celebrations in the region are complete without traditional headgear, and every year before Eid men throng the shops in Circular Road, Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, to buy new headdress.

Some caps are woven with colorful threads, while others are fitted with tiny, round pieces of glass. They come in many shapes and sizes, with the major Baloch and Pashtun tribes — which make up the two main ethnic groups in Balochistan province — having their own styles.

Mehmood Shah, who traveled 45 kilometers from Mastung district to Quetta to buy a new cap for the religious holiday celebrations, said: “Our forefathers have been wearing cultural caps and turbans for many centuries now, especially during the Eid festival.

“Wearing the traditional headgear on the holy festival is essential dressing for Baloch and Pashtun tribesmen.”

Prices vary. An ordinary cap can be as cheap as $3, but one that features embroidery can cost 30 times more.

Naseer Ahmed, who has been selling traditional headgear for the last two decades, said that handmade Bugti and Yaqoobi caps were the most expensive and sought-after ones, not only in Pakistan but in other countries too.

“I have been sending these caps across Balochistan and Afghanistan because demand for caps and turbans rises before Eid Al-Fitr,” he added.

The difference between Baloch and Pashtun headgear can easily be spotted: Baloch caps feature colorful ornaments, while Pashtun ones are known for their simplicity, and woven with a single thread.

Zia ul Haq, a member of the Pashtun Kakar tribe, told Arab News that Eid was a time when attire was important for everyone in the province.

Although the cultures of Balochis and Pashtuns were different, their love for headgear was the same, he said.

“Without caps and turbans, we feel discomfort,” he added. “Every single Baloch and Pashtun, whether child, young, or old, they all wear their cultural dress during the three days of Eid.”