Kalash Festival BeginsMay 14, 2013
Peshawar: Surrounded by the mountains of the Hindu Kush live a small group of people called the Kalash. They have their own language, religion and dress. There are many theories about how they came to inhabit their lofty valleys. Some say that they are the descendents tribes who intermarried with followers of Alexander the Great while others discern traces of Greek Civilization and physical characteristics among the Kalash. Their origin is still not clear but many foreigners relate to them as a “little Island of Pagans in a Muslim World”.
The origin of the Kalashah or ‘Wearers of Black’ is shrouded in mystery; their tribe has existed for thousands of years having survived in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Chitral in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They follow a pagan religion, speak an ancient language and possess a culture that is most unique. The 30003500 souls are also ranked amongst some of the world’s most endangered indigenous groups. Efforts are underway to grant the region and these people Protected Status under UNESCO.
The Kalash are famous for their ceremonies and unique customs. One of such is the Joshi or the Chillum Jusht Spring Festival. The festival is dedicated to spring and to future harvests. It includes dancing, music and family reunion for four to six days in Mid May. This year the festival is from today 14th May to 16th May 2013.
Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is promoting the Chillum Jusht Festival with the Tagline “Explore the Beautiful Kalash Valley”. This year many foreign tourists are attending this ceremony which has begun today in Bumburet Valley
of Chitral. Since the past few years with the law and order situation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa not many foreigners attended the festivals and they were really missed but this year tourists have come from Germany, British, Japanese, Korea and Scotland.
A large number of Domestic Tourists are also seen from Karachi and Lahore. A local Kalashi remarked in reference to the higher number of tourists this years in comparison to the past few years. Mr Zarin said “Foul proof security has been arranged and all the hotels in Chitrala and adjourning areas are completely booked”. He also stated “It’s like old times seeing all these people once again showing an interest in our rich Cultural Heritage”.
The General Manager Events Muhammad Ali Sayyed also stated in regard to it “It is a great achievement for all the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to be revived and witness such a growth in not only domestic tourism but international tourism also. It is the continuous effort of TCKP to promote the Soft Image of the province.”