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18 August 2019

Joshi Festival of Kalash ends in Chitral

CHITRAL: 3-day long Joshi festival, also known as Chelum Josht, the annual religious and spring festival of Kalash tribes concluded at Birir of Kalash valley in Chitral on Tuesday. Hundreds of domestic as well as foreign tourists attended the festivities. Everybody was enthralled by the colourful events, unique customaries, and unique ways of worships of Kalash community.

 The security was on high alert in order to avoid any untoward situation during the festival. Kalash people celebrate different seasonal and religious festivals in a year. They celebrate their first festival of Joshi (Chelum Josht in Chitrali language) in the month of May as the weather during this time is pleasant enough to supplement their joy.  The community collect milk, cheese, curds, and dry fruits ahead of the festival and during the inauguration of the festival; they give away those items among women and children as token of gift and share of blessings. Joshi Festival is celebrated from May 13th to  May 14th at Rumbor valley;15th to 16th at Bumboret valley and 17th to 18th at Birir  valley.  

 During these festivals Kalash men play drums while their women engage in dancing, mostly folk and traditional. While they dance, they sing centuries-old songs to welcome the Spring.  Teenagers— boys and girls — dance in a circular way, hands across each others’ shoulders. They march towards the Charso at Batrik village which is their common dancing place where they perform their dances and congregational rituals. The men mostly hold flowers, leaf and tree wigs, while dancing; they shower them on women as notion of great love and affection with them. The procession of Kalash creeps all the day long in the streets back and forth, dancing and singing, eventually meeting at Charso. The evening brings a unique custom of love marriage. The young kalash girls and boys who like each other arrange to escape some other village thereby to announce and celebrate their love marriage. Kalash people celebrate another festival in the last week of May, called Mrach Waki Zhoshi  which  is a one-day show where they shift their cattle to grazing house. The third festival is Ragnat which is celebrated in July, full of colourful rituals blended with music and dancing. In August they celebrate Uchao and in December they celebrate Chamos. Kalash people drink home grown wines and no Muslims are allowed to their houses despite the fact that the whole region is surrounded by Muslims. The Kalash Community lives mostly in remote settlements of Chitral where life is pretty hard. The approaching roads of these Kalash valleys are in very dilapidated condition and need immediate repair and blacktopping. The Culture of Kalash is about 5000 years old and it is considered one of the most vulnerable cultures. The population of Kalash is aging quite rapidly as Kalash people have been converting to Islam in recent years. After they convert to Islam they mostly abandon their traditions as they hardly find their customs consistent with the principles of Islam. The Kalash community, once had ruled Chitral and they had their territory from Chaqasrai Afghanistan to Broghul of Tajikistan border. Chiw, Kamyata etc were great popular rulers of Kalash cast. Hence their regime was occupied by Raees and Kator later on.  Kalash community is quite small as they are estimated to be less than 4000 in the three valleys, nevertheless, they attract the attention of world through their unique culture; especially the way they dress. Kalash community is considered the most peace-friendly community in the region. G.H. Farooqui has contributed to this story from Chitral, Pakistan