Looking for Jashtan!


Jashtan is a special kind of being found in the mythology of Chitral. The Jashtan appears to us in two different forms. While some may say they were pixie-like, others beg to differ with the argument that they were actually dwarves. Whatever be their physical features, theirs is a story that is still somewhat alive.

In the days of yore, these mythical beings were said to roam the mountains and take refuge in the homes of people while they were out doing chores and agricultural works. It is said that they hid in the nooks, cracks and crannies of the houses during the summer seasons.

However, when autumns arrived these people would clean sweep their houses, especially the places they believed to be hiding spots of the Jashtans, with thorny sticks to drag them out and assemble them.

To honor and celebrate the Jashtan, the people of Chitral held an autumn festival known as the Jashtan Dekeik (assembly of the Jashtans). During the festival, every nook and cranny of the houses would be cleaned thoroughly with thorny sticks. It was then announced to the Jashtans that they should now migrate towards the southern warmer regions where the cold won’t bother them and they’d have plenty of fruits and food to feed on.

Such was the interests of the people in this festival that they would leave baked goods on the roadsides for these starving, migrating beings. It was also said that the people would watch them migrate at night as it was said that the people saw the lights of their torches as they traveled in straight lines and then would suddenly disappear.

One property of these beings highlights more than any other, it was their night firelights. It was said that one could observe beams of light erupting from these migrating groups which would run to the sky, illuminating the mountainside. After that, they would suddenly disappear, leaving no trail behind. Some may also relate them to other mythical beings.

Some also believe that if one got hold of a special cap related to the Jashtans, the Jashtan then would obey the person who holds the cap.

According to these stories, it can be said that these were some of the harmless creatures from Chitrali mythology unlike the Halmasti. It can also be said that the people had a certain liking to these creature that they would even put baked goods on the roadsides. 



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