Kalash to celebrate Chilam Joshi festival from May 12 to 16
The Kalash people also pray for the safety of their fields and animals by distributing milk among their loved ones.
The four-day festival attracts a large number of local and international tourists as it gives an excellent opportunity to not just appreciate the unique culture and traditions of Kalash but also give a message of peace to the world.
There are several preparations and security directives issued to ensure that the event is held in a peaceful manner. The locals are instructed not to allow tourists to stay at their houses or strict action will be taken against them.
All journalists are required to take prior permission to cover the event. Tourists are also supposed to register their vehicles, hire local guides and not carry any firearms.
The visitors have been advised against committing violation of local customs which tend to affect the Kalash people and their way of life adversely. They can’t even photograph Kalash women without their consent.
On the first day of the festival, the Kalash decorate their houses with flowers that follows the distribution of milk among friends and loved ones and participation in the ritual of ‘gulparik’. This practice involves the baptism of infants with milk.
The restrictions imposed on mothers with newborn children to attend social events and gatherings are removed in last two years. Now, their newborn children can also participate in the baptism while villagers dance to the beat of drum.
The festival provides an opportunity to boost their economy through tourism in the area. Many local and foreign tourists have already started pouring in to take part in the celebrations and hotels seem short of accommodations.
The Kalash people are the smallest ethnoreligious community in the country with their population considered at less than 5000. They claim descent from Macedonian soldiers associated with Alexander’s invasion of southwest Asia but no research supports this claim.
They are polytheists and nature plays a highly significant and spiritual role in their life. As part of their customs, sacrifices are offered and festivals held to thank the nature for the abundant resources of their valleys.
In recent times, the Kalash have been under increasing danger from proselytizing groups and have been threatened with death by the extremists such as the Taliban and many of them have been forced to revert to Islam.
The threats have sparked outrage from citizens across the country and the army pledged to fortify Kalash villages.