by Amna Tanveer Khan
The Kalash Valley is not only known for its breathtaking location and the scenic beauty it enjoys all year around but also for its rich culture and tradition that has been preserved and celebrated for generations. The people of this valley, known as the Kalasha people celebrate three festivals around the same time every year, by honoring and rejoicing their unique customs and events. The festivals are celebrated in full zeal, with dance and music, endowing offerings to Gods and young men and women choosing their future life partners.
Celebrated in the spring season, in the month of May, it takes place in the Bumburet, Birir and Rumbur valley where people dance to the beat of traditional music. This festival focuses on proclaiming their culture and bringing it out for the world to see and notice the core message of peace. A myriad of vibrant colors, with women dressed in splendid classical dresses, adorned with embellished head gear and exotic jewelry. Men dress simply in their shalwar kameez, complimented by woolen coats and accessories. This festival is celebrated for 4 days where people pray for the protection of their crops and herds and for their health and well-being.
Summer comes with its own festivities and people welcome the annual harvest season with fervor in their celebratory songs and dance. The summer festival is not only known among the locals but is famous worldwide, with people coming from all over to take part and join in the merriments. The people extend their reverence to their gods for the great agricultural year. Night long party follows after the prayers, which continues into the early hours of the next day. Kalasha people celebrate the festival all together, in harmony and triumph.
Winter season is often characterized as bleak and gloomy but that is not the case for Kalasha people who welcome it with the Choimus festival, celebrated in hopes and anticipation of a good and an affluence year, for the people and the village. The festivities continue with enthusiasm, music and dance, sacrifices made to the gods and food offerings prepared for the ancestors. Rituals are performed on New Year’s Eve with the tribal elders watching the sunrise to welcome the New Year.
The reason why Kalash Festivals attract people from all over the world is not only due to the uniqueness of it but because the real essence of these festivals is captured in the way the Kalasha people come together in conformity to celebrate their vast diverse culture and traditions.