11 Jan 2019
Highlights of Kalash Festival of Choimus 2018 (05.01.19).
Highlights of Kalash Festival of Choimus 2018 (05.01.19)
The people of Kalash valley in Chitral district are in a state of euphoria with the Choimus festival celebrations in full swing. The Kalash men, women and children in Ramboor, Bamburet and Birrir valleys on Sunday marked various events including Mandahek and sharaberayak festivals, besides making distributing various items and toy animals of wheat flour.
They made toy animals like cows, markhor and symbols of their ancestors from the flour, baked them in the fire and then placed them in the the sun.
Mandahek festival was marked during which tree branches were set on fire and kept one minute silence by the people.
A number of foreign tourists have thronged the Kalash valley to enjoy the celebrations.
Beginning on December 7 and to be continued till 22th, the phase of bonfire.
Earlier, the children gathered at their sacred place, collected twigs and branches of pine trees and made bonfire to show skills in making high flames and smoke.
Making high flames and smoke is meant to welcome peace, prosperity, minerals, green grass and love among the people of the indigenous tribe in the ensuing winter and spring seasons.
The children while holding green leaves and branches of trees also sang songs and performed chorus to enjoy the festival.
Kalash is a small non-Muslim ethnic community in Chitral. The Kalash people are also found in Nuristan province of Afghanistan.
Some 3,500 Kalash people, who live in Ramboor, Bamburet and Birrir valleys enjoying religious freedom, celebrate the Chawmous and other festivals regularly.
The Kalash people during the Choimus festival, which marks the end of the fieldwork and harvest, make their wishes for the New Year while dancing in chorus, dressed in colourful robes.
Kalash festival of Choimus begins on the winter solstice and holds great importance among the Kalasha people. Choimus, also known as Chawmous or Chitirmas , Choimus is a winter Kalash festival. The annually observed event symbolizes and forecasts prosperity of the village and its people in the coming year. The locals perform rituals for purification during the festival at the dawn of the new year.
People go out in numbers to seek foxes which are a good omen to sight at this time. Torch lit processions arrive from nearby villages at the main traditional dancing place called a “Charsue”. The dancing and festivities are held indoor that go late into the night as the local wine is handed around the bonfire.
They sacrifice cattle mostly goats by pinning arrows in their necks. They neither meet nor shake hands with any visitors during that time.
French, Belgian and other foreign tourists, who are in valley to enjoy the Kalash festival, were ginen a briefing by the Tourist Information Centre incharge Zarin Khan about the religious, cultural, tourism and historical perspective of the Kalash valley and its inhabitants.
The KP Tourism Department has also installed lighting system and made arrangements for transport and other facilities so that local community and tourists could celebrate the festival in a befitting manner.