Stories are the best way to a child’s heart and sometimes a fairy tale, folklore, or a little tall tale for your small one could actually pave a path to his or her heart.
As parents, I think all of us indulge in a bit of storytelling to woo our dear young ones’ hearts.
My task was easy because I did not really have to spin yarns to my little ones; rather there were enough Omani folktales that I could relate to them.
While storytelling is an art, describing a story that infuses elements of pride and dignity and a sense of belonging in the listener, especially the young and impressionable ones, cuts really deep.
When my first child turned 12, I sat thinking about the ideal gift that I should give him. What would you ideally give a pre-teen Omani boy? Of course: Plenty! The sky’s the limit! There is no dearth of gifts ideas and presents, from a smart phone to a tab to a sports bike to a game – the list is endless.
But, when you are spoilt for choice, there are also problems. And, knowing that your young boy is on the threshold of growing up in to a teenager and within years to a young adult, it is not an easy choice that I had. Finally, after much thinking, I went traditional; I went Omani: I gifted him a superbly handcrafted, totally traditional khanjar.
And when I sat down with him to share the story of the tradition behind that khanjar, I realised that my son was after my own heart for he was clearly overwhelmed by the tale and more so by the precious gift that he held in his hand. He beamed with pride and was also grateful that he was handed over a slice of culture, steeped in tradition and more importantly with a stamp of his own, yaani, his Omani identity.
My son wore his birthday gift with great pride and that is a a sentiment that he still holds on to, and will be a part of his life forever. For me, as a parent, I realised the blessings of Allah, the Almighty. I was given a gift too – a happiness of having chosen the right gift for a son who was just turning an important point in his life. A gift he will cherish forever.
Pass it on the right way
As a parent it becomes our responsibility to not just nuture and protect our children, but also pass on the heritage and culture of our society in its original glory. That is the only way we can preserve our identities, while transferring knowledge to the youth.
Let the young generation know what their rich tradition and culture comprise. Let them know the pride and honour of wearing a khanjar, in its true form, crafted and created in its own local flavour and hands. With the influx of modernity, shortcuts and instant gratifications, comes in the lowering of expectations and quality. Let us not blame or use the excuse of modernity for the erosion of values and let our glorious art and culture die a slow death.
A living tradition
The Omani khanjar is part and parcel of the local culture and tradition. Most importantly, a khanjar is the symbol of Oman’s identity. When an Omani wears the khanjar, it exemplifies the happiness and camaraderie he has and shares with others while celebrating a special occasion.
The Black & White team has sourced some of the key khanjar masters of Oman and has also briefly looked at the market scene where they found a parallel market selling cheaper varieties of khanjars for those who cannot afford the antique and the heavy silver ones. But one unique aspect emerging from the story is this: the Omani khanjar is going to stay forever!