Kalash people: culture, health and society

Kalash festival marks start of grape, walnut harvest

CHITRAL: The Kalash festival of Pul was celebrated in Birir valley, which marked the beginning of harvesting season of grapes and walnuts in the valley and the return of cattle from the high pastures to the villages by the herdsmen to which they had ascended in May.

The festival is peculiar to the Birir valley since long where the local community bans harvest of grapes and walnuts before the fixed date, while in Kalash valleys of Bumburate and Rumbur the festival is named as Ochal and held in September.

During the ban, no person can pluck grapes and walnut even from his own tree and the violator is fined by a watcher appointed by the community and the amount is utilised collectively on the occasion of the festival.

Rambu Shah, a resident of Birir valley, told this correspondent on phone that as the grapes and walnut trees bore more fruits than previous years the festival was held with more zeal. He said that grapes and walnut are two major sources of sustenance in the valley.

He said the festival was inaugurated by the eldest person living in the valley, who plucked a bunch of grapes amid drumbeats and merry-making.

He said the festivities continued for whole day during which musical concerts were held in which boys and girls danced and sang to the tunes of flutes. Tourists in the valley also participated in some of rituals of the festival.

The Birir valley is backward than the other two Kalash valleys and is situated far away from them visited by less number of tourists due to its remoteness, poor road condition and absence of hotel facilities.

Assistant commissioner, Chitral, Tania Rashid joined the Kalash women in the festivities as chief guest. She also distributed gifts among the Kalash women and children on behalf of the district administration.

 

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