The Thar district derives its name from Thar and Parker. The name Thar is from Thul, the general term for the regions sand ridges and the word Parkar literary means “to cross over”. Earlier it was known as the thar and parker district but afterwards it became one word ‘Tharparker’.
Tharparker is a district that occurs in the south east of Sindh. It happens to be one of the 23 districts of the Sindh Province. More than 90% of the people live in more than 200 rural villages. The headquarters of the thar is known as Mithi. A very large area of tharparker constitutes of the Thar Desert. The language spoken in tharparer region is called Dhatki which is also known as ‘Thari’ Language. Thari is basically a rajistani language and is the most spoken language in the region. However some people also speak urdu and sindhi. Tharparker homes two kinds of classes , the muslims and the Hindus. According to a consensus held in 1998, muslims constitute almost 59% of the population whereas the Hindus constitute of the rest of 41% of the total population of the region.
The Thari culture is somewhat a mixture of the Gujrati, rajistani and Sindhi Culture. However the Rajistani Culture overshadows the other two. Also the Thari Music seems to be more inspired from the rajistani traditional music however it has a sound and feel of its own.
The Thari’s are very honest and hardworking people and are very hospitable. The nature and mindset of the thari people is very uncertain. Whatever they see they want to make sure it is real by touching it. This uncertainty is generated due to the conditions they live in. More than 80% of the people livelihood is dependant upon the rain fed agriculture and livestock.
The thari desert is full of folklores which are a very important part of the thari culture. It has a culture of its own which is like no other place. It provides lots of ways to sink into the Sindhi Culture. Thar infact is a place where folk songs and folklores actually exist in their original form. Even though it is a land of shifting dunes but still the people have learned to live in and adapt to the place.
The thari life is full of adventures for visitors who visit in order to explore the indigenous cultures , traditions and lifestyles. Some of the peculiar scenes of the desert include the Sun- rising and sun-setting scenes viewed from atop of a due camel caravans, the grazing herds, big and small sand dunes with thorny bushes, traditional dresses and jewellery of women, folk songs sung in wilderness .
The Panhiari; The water girl of the desert in traditional clothes and the white bangles all over the arms has been immortalized by the writers and the media persons all over. Thar is considered to be land of mighty River Sarswati which used to flow through the region thousands of years ago but has now gone missing. So this land is also known as the land of people whose river has gone missing.
Some of the methodologies say that Thar has been said to be ‘Marthool’ which means harsh, hostile and merciless land. However the people have evolved and they’ve learnt to adjust to the conditions.
The Thari women wear ghagra’s which are long swirling skirts and work in fields and work with their counterparts and help them earn wheat to feed their families. They cover their faces with veils while wearing silver jewellery . The veil protects them from harsh sun and sand and it also saves them from the desirous eyes of men. The married, unmarried and widowed women wear different clothes and they can easily be differentiated from the way they are dressed like. The unmarried girls do cover their arms fully with the white bangles. Women largely communicate within their own caste, within which they can marry exclusively. Opportunities for meeting women of other castes become more restricted with higher status. The higher caste women observe strict seclusion while poorer are freer to undertake their field tasks.
The Thari men are usually tall and dark. Most of them have moustaches and many keep beards too. They wear turbans which symbolizes their pride in being a thari.
Many fairs and festivals are held in the region which provides opportunity to the villagers from remote areas and villages to meet each other. This way livestock deals are also stuck and they all get to enjoy their cultural music and dances together. Their lifestyle is influenced by a celebration for every religious occasion and for every change in season. The harvesting season is the one which is celebrated with most zeal and is the biggest one celebrated among the people. This all is also reflected in their arts and crafts.
Like other parts of Pakistan, Thar also has a few folk dances including dandan rand, mitco, chakar rand and rasooro. The dandan rand is the kind of dance that is performed by eight or ten men, having one small stick in one hand and silk handkerchief in the other one, on the dhol beat in a circle. The dhol player also sings the songs while rest of the men dance. The mitco dance is the solo performance by a male dancer. It is also performed by women in their houses on weddings of their sons alone. The chakar rand dance is the traditions Thari Muslims. The male dancer performs it holding a sword in his hand on dhol beat. The rasooro is a stick dance by women even dhol is played by women and some women also sing song on the dhol beat.
Thar also has a very divergent colony of traditional tribes but they share many common characteristics which seems to bring together their pasts. Despite their diversity in costumes jewellery and customs a singularity also exists which seems to keep them bonded together.
The hindu communities hold arranged marriages outside their communities. Whereas the muslim community remains reluctant when it comes to marriages outside the community.
Thar faces the pre monsoon weather which goes on from the month of April to the month of June. The hottest temperatures are observed in the month of june during which the temperatures vary between 35 to 45 degrees at times. The place always seems to be home to sand storms.
The people of thar are very creative when it comes to arts and crafts. Pottery, puppets, leather items, wood items, Carpets , Metal Wares, Block Prints, Tie and Dye Fabrics, Embroidered Shoes, Mirror Work on Clothes and Sheets, Painting, Kundan, Meenakari are a few arts and crafts of Thar. The handicrafts heritage is a very fine combination of colours and textures. The depth and range of this heritage stems from its socio economic ethos with the whole village pursuing certain crafts which are essential to their daily survival and needs. These handicrafts are what constitutes mainly of their economy. The thari economy reflects the barter system basically and they are the kind where a village is supposed to take care of almost all of its needs by itself.