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Kalash Winter Festival Gets Underway
The Kalash people, living in Bumburate, Birir and Rumbur valleys of the district, began to celebrate their winter festival Chitramas on Wednesday with spiritual zeal.
The final day of the weeklong festival coincides with the first day of the new year of Kalash calendar. In every village, some Kalash men and women volunteer to confine themselves in a cattle pen. The tradition is called Autik, which means ‘to get secluded’ in the local dialect.
The secluded persons completely insulate themselves from other people during the week and eat the meat of slaughtered goats, drink and pass time in merrymaking. The elder Kalash congregate on the hilltops or plateaus to observe the movement of sun on the basis of which they declare the advent of new year on the final day of the festival.
Tash Khan, a Kalash youth from Rumbur valley, working at a government office in Chitral city, said he availed a week leave to participate in the festival but failed to enlist himself among the people on seclusion. He said during Autik even a sight of other people was believed to pollute them.
“Kalash slaughter their goats, mostly one goat per adult man or woman, on the concluding day of the festival as Muslims do on the occasion of Eidul Azha,” he added. He said that the valley received heavy snowfall by the end of December, restricting the movement of people, who virtually hibernated during the three months of winter season.
Mr Khan said Chitramas festival was considered more important from spiritual point of view as compared to other festivals of Kalash people. “Due to sunny days in the absence of snowfall this year, the people will enjoy the festival more than the past years when the valleys used to be shrouded in snow,” he added.
He said the pleasant weather would also attract more tourists on the concluding day of the ceremony next week.--Dawn