Kalash festival of Chilim Jush 2023

Visitors to Chilim Jush festival call for development of infrastructure

Gul Hamad Farooqi

CHITRAL: The Kalash tribe’s annual spring festival of Chilim Josh, also known as Joshi in the local language, concluded with all its colors and festivities on May 17, 2023.

The Chilim Jush festival started on May 13 with fanfare this year.

In this festival, Kalash men beat drums while Kalash women perform folk danced by connecting shoulder to shoulder in a circle singing religious songs.

Religious leaders of Kalash community called Qazis also sing religious songs and offer prayers. Their families decorate their caps with notes of one hundred, five hundred and thousand rupees. It is considered a sign of respect and dignity for them. By afternoon, Kalash women and children from different villages gather in groups and start dancing and singing songs on the beat of drum (dholak).

In the afternoon, Kalash people hold walnut branches and leaves in their hands and wave them. They move slowly towards the main dancing place called Charsu, during which Muslims or people of other religions are not allowed to join them.

When these people reach Charsu, they dance there with great enthusiasm

After that, their religious leaders pour milk into the wheat crop, which is done for blessing, while the men go away from the dancing place and hold walnut twigs, leaves or flowers in their hands and pray loudly in their own language.

They slowly come back towards the dance floor while singing religious songs. But a person belonging to any other religion is not allowed to come in front of them. In Charsu women also hold twigs and leaves in their hands and wave them and sing songs and wait for men.

When the men, led by their Qazis, reach the dancing place, they all gather together and perform a dance while throwing leaves and twigs in their hands on the women.

A large number of local and foreign tourists had come to witness this festival. However, they had to face some difficulties due to the bad roads condition and lack of seating and other facilities for the tourists.

A dozen of tourists from Finland visited the Kalash valley for the first time on the invitation of the Chitral Travel Bureau.

When these tourists were asked about this festival, they said the government and non-government organizations that work for the development of tourism should pay more attention on the development of the infrastructure such as roads. More work should be done so that tourists do not face any difficulties in coming and going on these roads. With more tourists coming here, the economic condition of the people of this area will also improve.

Some local people complained that a huge amount of money allocated by the government in the name of celebrating various festivals, fairs or tournaments in Chitral was mostly spent on the VIP protocol for  bureaucrats and officers and their families.

Instead of doing this, it would be more beneficial to spend this amount on the construction and repair of these roads and to improve arrangements to facilitate domestic and foreign tourists.

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