New Year predictions, engagements highlights of Kalash festival
CHITRAL: The religious and winter Chitramas festival ended here on Saturday in the Kalash valleys of Bumburate, Birir and Rumbur after lasting for almost two weeks. The day coincided with the first day of Kalash calendar.
Making predictions for valleys in the New Year and announcement of the engagement of couples were the conspicuous events of the last day of the festival. Ushtur Kalash from Bumburate told Dawn that during the festival’s last day function in Bumburate valley, a panel of bitans (Kalash religious leaders) from all three valleys announced the prediction of a pleasant year in terms of the people’s well-being and good health.
He said as per custom, the captivated fox was freed in the forest for a pleasant new year. The resident said the leaping of the fox towards snow-clad mountains was taken as bad omen for Kalash people living in the three valleys.
The groups of men and women, who had gone to seclusion at the advent of the festival as one of the obligations of their dogma, also stepped out on the occasion.
Mulai Rum from Krakal Bumburate said such people had volunteered to remain in seclusion in cattle pens to please their gods and goddesses and also slaughtered their animals (goats) at the altar of their god, Malosh.
He said this year 70 goats were slaughtered in Bumburate and Rumbur valleys and their meat was consumed by those who had gone to seclusion. Mr Rum said the entry of non-Kalash was strictly prohibited during the last three days of the festival in the Kalash settled areas as per Kalash dogmatic beliefs; the touching of the other people polluted them.
He said announcement of the engagements of boys and girls was yet another event in the final day of the festival who would marry during the spring festival of Chilim Jusht in May the next year. Shahi Bibi from Bumburate area said 17 couples announced engagement, while the announcement about the elopement of two girls (alashing in Kalash language) was made on the occasion.
“Alashing is not disliked in the Kalash society but even then, the people opting for alashing are lower in number,” she said. Due to heavy snowfall and cold weather in the valleys, the Kalash people will virtually hibernate during the three months winter season and consume the food stored by them.