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Bonfire competitions mark Kalash winter festival

CHITRAL: The winter festival – Chawmoss – is being celebrated with religious zeal and zest in the Kalsha-inhabited Bumburate, Birir and Rumbur valleys as children collected twigs and branches of pine trees and made a bonfire to participate in the high flame and smoke competitions on Tuesday.

Began on December 7 and to be continued till 22nd of the current month, the phase of bonfire competitions in the Chawmoss festival completed in which several children participated. The children gathered at their sacred place, collected twigs and branches of pine trees and made a 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. Local and foreign tourists have also come to the valley to see and enjoy the uniqueculture, traditions and religious rites.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Senior Minister for Sports, Tourism, Archaeology, Museums, Culture and Youth Affairs Muhammad Atif Khan has issued directives to the quarters concerned to provide every facility to the locals and foreign tourists, who have come for Chawmoss festival.

The senior minister said that the provincial government would provide foolproof security, lighting and transportation to the tourists and residents so they could celebrate the event in a befitting manner.

He has also stressed the need for highlighting the Kalash culture to the world. The Kalasha winter festival “Chawmoss” is the biggest festival of the year. As winter starts around mid-December, the Chawmoss festival begins.

The festival is celebrated for the divine, the living and dead relatives, crops and the goats to be safeguarded, while the community, the village and the valley are purified prior to the coming year. Sighting a fox is a good omen and great efforts are made in this regard.

At dusk, torch-lit processions are taken out from all the nearby villages. The processions then culminate at the “Charsue”, which is the main customary dancing place. Most of the festivities are indoors where the local wine is handed around as the dance gathers momentum. It is carried out till late in the night around the bonfire.

On the other hand, the tribal elders sit on hilltops at dawn to watch the rising sun and declare the new year. Goat sacrificed are then made to the Godess “Jastak”, while blood from the animal is sprinkled at the temple Jastime. When “Balimine”, another great god visits the Kalash valley once a year, sacrifices are made at his “Malosh Altar” too.


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