Chilimjusht Festival kicks off in Chitral

By Atiya Riffat

The Kalasha Chilim Jusht Festival kicked off on Monday with the first ritual the “chirik pipi”, which is the milking distribution by shepherds to welcome the spring commencing in the Bumburet Kalash valley.

The Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP) has established a tent village for the tourists. TCKP has made arrangements to facilitate the tourists. The festival started with ‘Milkday’ on which Kalash people offers milk that had been saved for 10 days prior to the occasion.

Girls gather from all over the valley and decorate their houses with local wine and milk products shared in their homes.The women then sprinkle the milk on the goddess Jestak which is believed to be the protector of their children and homes.

The festival starts at Rumbur where the Shaman (soothsayer) and tribal chiefs lead a procession to the “Malosh altar”, high above Grum, to sacrifice goats to the gods.Later on the festival moves on to Bumburate and comes to a close at the Birir, a few days later.

Their religious ceremony is accompanied by dancing and rhythmical chants to the beat of the drum.The women embellished in their traditional black robes, ornate cowries shelled head dresses which are adorned with coloured necklaces, dance in circles.The tribal chiefs (Kazis) in their colourful dresses narrate stories of bygone days and events.

This festival is the most important event of the Kalash people as it signifies the end of chilling cold in the mountainous region and the people celebrate the arrival of spring and summer seasons.  A number of foreign tourists including French, Italian and Australian families have already arrived in Chitral to enjoy the festival.