The Kalasha (Kalasha: Kaĺaśa; Nuristani: Kasivo; Urdu: کالاش), or Kalash, are a Dardic indigenous people residing in the Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. They speak the Kalasha language, from the Dardic family of the Indo-Aryan branch. They are considered unique among the peoples of Pakistan. They are also considered to be Pakistan’s smallest ethnoreligious community, practising a religion which some scholars characterise as a form of animism and other academics as “a form of ancient Hinduism”.
As such, the Kalasha Valleys are a source of attraction for Pakistani as well as International tourists. There are three main valleys. The largest and most populous valley is Bumburet(Mumuret), reached by a road from Ayun in the Kunar Valley. Rumbur and Acholgah are side valleys north of Bumburet. The third valley, Biriu (Birir), is s side valley of the Kunar Valley south of Bumburet.
The Chilam Joshi Festival starts with ‘Milkday’ on which Kalash people offer libations
of milk that had been saved for 10 days prior to the occasion. The celebrations highlight their cultural richness, plethora of colours and the underlying message of peace. In the festival, the Kalash people seek the blessing of their god and pray for the safety of herds and crops of the community.
The women dress up in traditional clothes of vibrant colours,gold and silver jewellery and elaborate headgear. Men wear traditional shalwar kameez with a woolen waistcoat. The Kalash women and men dance and sing in a circle on the rhythmical chant of drum . Apart from the most important Chilam Joshi festival, the community marks three others annually-Uchal during wheat and barley harvest season, Phoo during grape and walnut
harvest season, and Chaumos in the winter.
A large number of tourists including foreigners from all over the world participate in the festival.The Kalash people are known for their relaxed and loving mode of life and they do not mourn on their deaths . Kalash culture is perhaps the world’s oldest culture with minimum adulteration .So, if you missed this year’s festival, I advise visiting the next one to feel the majestic sounds of Kalashi tribe singing and dancing, catching the picturesque view of the valley’s scenic beauty and feeling proud of the cultural diversity and legacy Pakistan has to offer.