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Chilimjusht at Kalash Valleys

LOWER CHITRAL: The celebration of Chilimjusht spring festival is in full-swing in the three Kalash valleys in Lower Chitral district here on Sunday.

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The main function of the event was held in Rambur valley, where the Kalash people sprinkled milk on their loved ones and prayed for good fortune.

Attired in their traditional dresses, the women, children and men danced and sang together to celebrate the festival.

The elderly Kalash women and children distributed milk and yogurt of goats and sheep among the children for drinking and eating.

The Kalash people, including men, women and children in groups along with their goats and sheep go to the fields and green pastures.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Culture and Tourism Authority (KPCTA) under the aegis of Tourism Department and the district administration of Lower Chitral have made all arrangements for the event to facilitate tourists and local residents to celebrate the event in a befitting manner.

Tourists from Germany, France, Japan, Malaysia and elsewhere in the world have arrived Kalash valley enjoying the festival.

They would stay for several days to enjoy the local culture, traditions, tourist attractions and festival in the scenic valleys of the district.

A foreign woman tourist told reporters that whatever she had read about the history and culture of the Kalash people held true when she visited the valley.

Officials at the Tourist Information Centre in Chitral, are briefing the foreign tourists upon their arrival in the town.

The tourists are provided brochures, pamphlets, maps and other informative material and guidelines about the local culture and traditions and the scenic attractions in the three Kalash valleys – Bamburet, Birir and Rambur.

Situated about 45 kilometres from Chitral town, the Kalash people attract the world for their unique culture and religion.

Kalash people wear new dresses and prepare various dishes to welcome the Chilimjusht or Chilim Joshi spring festival.

The festival is the most important event of the Kalash people as it signifies the end of chilling cold in the mountainous region and the people celebrate the arrival of spring and summer seasons.

Kalashis make arrangements for taking their herds to the summer pastures.

Small kids wear new clothes and they are baptized during the festival. The ceremony of baptism of kids is called Pich Injek while a young man sprinkles milk on the newborns and their mothers.

Kalash girls spend lavishly on purchase of clothes and ornaments for the event and the occasion is being used to show off their financial status.

They dance to the traditional music and drumbeats. Young girls and boys sing and dance in groups in the community halls.

Houses are decorated and Kalashis wear new clothes that are specifically prepared for the occasion.

Main feature of the festival is selection of life partner for unmarried boys and girls. The event culminates with the loving couples tying the knot.

Meanwhile, Secretary Tourism Amir Sultan Tareen and KPCTA Director General Muhammad Abid Khan Wazir have welcomed the participation of a large number of local and foreign tourists in the celebration of Chilimjusht festival.

They said that KPCTA along with district administration of Lower Chitral and police were providing all facilities to the tourists and local residents to celebrate the unique religious and cultural event in the best possible way.

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M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.