The lifestyle and social habits of the Chitralis date back to ancient times. Joint family system is still the norm. The father is considered the head of the family; the privilege is conferred on the eldest son after his death. Usually it so happens that while the father is alive, all live together in a single house.
After his death, the property is divided and the sons move with their families into houses of their own. The youngest son inherits all houses owned by the father. The eldest makes a house for him by himself. For this purpose, he is provided with land and wood for construction.
To comment on their houses, the most important room of the house is in the shape of a hall and is brought into multiple uses. It is divided into parts and each part is utilized differently. In the center of the room is a fireplace, whose smoke escapes through a hole in the ceiling. Men sit to the right and women to the left of the fireplace. The area at the back of the male and the female sitting rooms is used as bedroom. Wheat-flour, ghee, meat and milk are stored in cellars.
The main room also serves as a kitchen. This is especially practical during the winter season when the same fire is used to cook and warm people. Every family member sits on the seat assigned to him. The first or the most prominent seat in the male section is occupied by the head of the house. As a counterpart to it, the leading female member of the family (usually the eldest daughter-in-law) sits on the most prominent seat in the female section and cooks for all. Other members also sit in accordance with hierarchy.
When visited by a religious and spiritual leader, the head of the family offers his seat to him. On the arrival of a guest, all embers of the family get up from their seats to welcome him. The guest is given due respect and while elders are talking, youngsters do not interfere. They only speak up when asked a question, and that too is answered with decency and respect.
They do not even laugh in front of their elders. It is deemed improper to raise one’s voice in gossip or everyday talk. As for their eating habits, a wheat bread (chapatti) is passed around and all people present take a morsel. The guest begins this prologue to lunch. Little matters, like washing hands before meals or drinking water demand delicacy, for allowing others a chance to wash hands or drink water before they do is a means of showing respect.
Chitralis love social gatherings; pleasure is doubled by the provision of music. The area has a rich musical tradition perhaps because music is not restricted to a caste or social group. The rich and the respectful do not consider musical parties or concerts as a disgrace. Rather, the playing of musical instruments is an art relegated to the elite. Musical concerts can be arranged at any time of the year; just contact any youth society or cultural club. Music, today, is patronized by the rich while in older days, this was the job of the mehtur.
It is believed that the soil has a special preference for its old inhabitants. On festive occasions, these people are treated with great respect. In the traditional social set-up, the shepherd was also raised to a significant social stature; they were cordially invited to all festivals and sent some special dish or meal. They had the authority to fine anybody who deterred from this general norm.