Harvest festival celebrated in Birir valley

By Zahiruddin (photo: GH Farooqui)

CHITRAL: Patience, perseverance and discipline, thy name is Kalash in Birir valley, who vigorously restrain themselves for two months from eating even a grain of grape or a walnut, which is tabooed for them in line with their dogma despite.

It’s the Poo’n day on Monday when one of the valley’s elders announced the end of the taboo and inaugurated the walnut and grape harvesting by plucking a bunch of grape from the vine and eating it. With this starts the one-day festival which is also called Pul.

The festivities continued for the whole day during which musical concerts were held in different places of the valley in which the Kalash folk danced to the tunes of flutes and singing while harvesting of grapes also continued side by side.

Luke Rahmat Kalash, an educated youth, said the festival had been peculiar to the Birir valley since long, where local community banned the harvesting of grapes and walnuts before the fixed date by the Kalash elders which usually fell in the second week of October.

He said during the ban period, no one could pluck grapes and walnut even from own trees and that the ban violator was fined by a watcher appointed by the community whose amount was used collectively during the festival.

He said Poo`n meant yellow leaf in Kalasha language as the leaves of some species of trees began turning yellow when this festival was held.

Mr Rahmat said there were plenty of grapes and walnuts in the valley, which formed their major source of sustenance and that placing a ban on premature harvest meant to save them from dissipation and that conservation method was as old as was Kalash history itself.

He said more tourists turned up in the valley compared to previous year and that the number of foreign visitors to Kalash valleys was increasing gradually.He said a German tourist, Josef, who had come here driving own vehicle, was conspicuous by his presence.

Mr Rahmat complained that the underdeveloped Birir valley offered very limited facilities of boarding and lodging and there-fore, fewer tourists turned out.

Gamburi Shah, a village council member from Kalash community, complained that no effort had been made by the tourism department to publicise the festival to attract tourists to the valley. –Dawn