CHITRAL: The three-day Uchal festival of Kalash people began in the Rumbur valley on Monday to mark the return of shepherds from the high altitude pastures to their villages.
The inaugural ceremony was held at Chharsu (the central dancing place). However, the participants flouted the Covid-19-related standard operating procedures as they did not wear masks and observe social distancing.
Considered to be one of their religious rituals, the Kalash people celebrate the festival in all the three valleys to welcome the shepherds back to their villages after spending three summer months at higher altitudes.
The shepherds bring with them dairy products like cheese, ghee, butter and milk cream, which they hand over to the owners of goats and cows.
Special assistant to chief minister on minorities WazizZada Kalash, minister of prisons Shafiullah Khan, minority MPA Sardar Ranjeet Singh, PTI MNA Musaddiq Ghumman and others attended the inaugural ceremony.
Speaking on the occasion, Wazirzada said Kalash people enjoyed peaceful environment and cordial relations with Muslims.
He said at the time of independence in 1947, the population of Kalash people was about 500, but it had now topped 4,000.
The CM’s aide said Kalash people were free to live their ways of life, thus preserving their primitive culture.
Explaining the festival, Rambir Kalash, an elder, told Dawn that with the advent of summer, Kalash people went to higher pastures for grazing their cattle.
They descended to their lower altitude pastures in the third week of August where they stayed for another two months.
The elder said the dairy products were a major source of sustenance for the Kalash people.
Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2021