In the Kalash Valley of the Hindu Kush Mountains, there is a community with distinctive culture, customs, norms, traditions, and language inhibits. This community is known as Kalasha. The Kalasha people have their roots in Hinduism. A festival in different months, thrice of a year, is celebrated to exhibit the Pagan culture of Kalash Valley. The cultural heritage of Kalash is recognized by UNESCO and listed in its rich culture category. The Kalasha people not only entertain themselves in the festival by dancing, delicious food, and games but they worship their gods and goddesses as well. Sacrifices are performed and offerings are made before gods for future endeavors. Interestingly, young girls and boys choose their couples at the festival.
People from across the country and even foreigners attend this great event with zeal and zest. The participants of the festival share the happiness of the indigenous community, imbibe their values, dance, and sing with them. Moreover, the striking mountains of the Hindu Kush are attractive to tourists. In this age of terror and despondency in Pakistan, the festival not only minimizes the disappointment in Pakistani people but conveys the message of peace to the entire world. The festival portrays a positive image of Pakistan to the International Community.
As mentioned before, the festival is celebrated 3 times in a year, i.e. spring, Summer and Winter. Spring Festival, famous as the Chillum Joshi festival, begins on 13 May. Summer festival aka Uchal Festival starts on 20th August. Moreover, on 15th December, the celebrations of the winter festival are renowned as the Choimus Festival starts.
The spring festival aka Chillam Joshi Festival is celebrated from 13 to 16th May. The Kalasha community stores milk for this event. The festival starts on a milk day. Interestingly, the milk is offered before gods and poured in the way of Spiritual Entities; this custom is called the Libation. Traditional attire is worn by men and women. Men usually wear the Waistcoat made of wool. Women choose the colorful dresses on which the flowers are depicted. Beaded necklaces matching the dresses and headgear are also part of women’s attire. Special prayers are made before gods and goddesses. Health, wealth, and well-being of the community are asked in the prayers. Moreover, in this festival, the young boys and girls select their life partners and announce it in the event on the last day. The participants dance together and sing tribal songs. This joyful festivity creates intimacy and harmony among them.
Summer Festival of Kalash Valley
Kalash Uchal Festival, the renowned name of the summer festival, starts on the 22nd August of every year. This is a unique event in Kalash Valley. In the Uchal festival, the members of the local community harvest their crops and offer them before the Gods. Prayers are made for the proliferation of crops and self-sufficiency in food. Gods are thanked for the crops and agricultural wealth. After it, the Kalasha community sets off for a procession outside the village in Balangkuru. Here, the prayers are said before the Gods. Afterward, the jubilations, dances, and songs turn the event into a memorable one. The celebrations and joy don’t finish until the dawn of the next day. This jubilant summer festival has gained fame around the globe. People from Pakistan and multiple countries participate in the Uchal festival.
Kalash Winter Festival
The famous Choimus Festival of Kalash is celebrated in winter and starts on the 15th of December. This festival is attributed to the forecast of the future of the community. When the festival starts, the community searches for FOXES, as the Fox is considered a symbol of a good omen. From nearby villages, the people gather in throngs with torches in their hands. They assemble at a traditional dancing spot named “Charsue”. A bonfire is held, around which the people dance and enjoy the local wine. The night-long celebrations are generally indoors. At the dawn of the New Year, the local community prays for the purification of their souls. On the eve of the Choimus Festival, the tribal leaders assemble at the hilltop to view the rising sun of New Year. The Goats are sacrificed before the “Jastak” goddess and the blood is sprinkled at the temple of Jastarkhan. The entire festivity, ecstasy, spirituality, and abiding by the traditional norms make the festival a momentous event.
Route and Itinerary of the Festival
Arrival in Islamabad
Most International flights land at the Islamabad International Airport. Foreign visitors have to land at the Airport. The local aspirants have to reach here. After some rest, the concerned company provides a briefing about the Journey. The luggage is checked and confirmed at the hotel. If time is available, there might be some sightseeing in the beautiful and promising city of Islamabad.
Islamabad to Chitral
The next day, the tourists leave for the Chitral via airplane. It is a 1-hour flight. The views from the flight are spectacular. Wonderful Mountains, greenery, and the astounding landscape make the journey pleasant. However, the flight is conditioned with weather clearance.
In case of cancellation of the flight, the journey via road is started. This route comprises traveling via Mardan, Malakand, Batkhel, and Dir, and then via the Luwari Tunnel entrance into Chitral. Night stay in PTDC hotel Chitral.
Recreation in Chitral
3rd day of the Itinerary is reserved for a tour of the significant places of Chitral. The tourists visit the Shahi Masjid, Chitral Fort, Chitral Museum, and Old Chitral Bazar. The tourists take memorable photos at Old Chitral View Point. Chitral Gol National Park too is worth visiting place.
Chitral to Kalash Valley
On the 4th day, the tourists head towards Rumber, Kalash Valley. Rumber is 50 km away from Chitral and the distance is covered by jeeps. The entire day is spent meeting the friendly people of Kalash, hospital tribal communities, and visiting the shops of the vallThe nightlight stay is there in the guest house.
Celebration of Festival at Kalash
The 5th day is the D day. On this day, the Kalash culture is explored in the festival. Courteous Kalasha community members are met. Their magnificent culturelearnedarnt. At night, the bonfire and traditional dances mesmerize the visitors.
Back to Chitral
On the 6th day, the tourists are taken back to Chitral.
Arriving at Islamabad
On the 7th day, the visitors reach Islamabad via a flight from Chitral.
From Islamabad Airport, the visitors head towards their countries and cities (the local Pakistanis).
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