By: Gul Hamaad Farooqi
CHITRAL: Annual religious festival of Kalash community Chomas (Chatarmas) concluded at Kalash valley. This festival had started from December 7 to welcome new year and to celebrate autumn season of the scenic valley. This festival celebrating simultaneously at three valleys of Rumbor, Birir and Bumborate.
During the last week of the festival no Muslim or any outsider allowing inside their valley for 3 days. During this period Kalash people not slaughter animal properly as usual but killing them by self from back side of their neck and not shaking hand with Muslims. While in other days they slaughter these animal by Muslims.
Hence on the final day they allow everyone to visit their village and house and meet them. On the last night Kalash men together a place and lighting some wood and passing through special routes in mountain series with flaming and blazing special wooden pieces prepared for fire. While women folk also carrying burning wood in their hand which is called “ Mashal Bardar Julos) they passing through main road with inflamed and lighted wood in their hands and go to a specific village where they busy in worship the whole night.
Hence no Musim is allowing to touch them or to join this procession of burning wood of Deodar. This kindled, flaming procession ending in a specific village and men passing through mountain ways burning dry grass with their flamed wood and go to worship place but no one is allow during this time to touch or join them.
They singing their religious songs while the men chanting different slogans on their way and appraising their forefathers in their songs.
A Kalash boy Afzal said that we carry this flamed fire wood which is a part of worship and singing religious songs on the way every year on the last night of this festival.
Kalash women washing their hair and head with hot water on the bank of Bumborat River where some room has been constructed for this purpose and this is a part of their preparation for joining their festival. .
Young , children as well as aged Kalash men and women must go to dancing place to perform folk dance which they consider religious obligatory.
They came in bulk from different villages dancing and singing but no drum is beating in this festival they welcome to Autumn season and pray for new year as wel as also predict about it.
Women passigng through their special period cannot joint this group of dancing and they are being shifted to Bashalani (menses house for women) while they climbed on tree to watch these dancing. They are not allow to join this festival during their special period.
Not only women but men also dancing during this festival and express their pleasure as well as they sharing greeting of Chomas to each other. They meet with a very unique way by kissing hands, face of each other.
Due to sever cold weather and chilly season water has been frozen and they passing through these difficult ways to attend their religious festival.
Fakhre Azam Pahliwan a religious Qazi of Kalash community from Rumbor said that Kalash have ruled for 800 years at Chitral state but later on Mehtar of Chitral snatched government from Kalah and we celebrating this festivals for the last 5000 years.
Bumborat police were red alert for security of Kalash inflamed procession at night time hence they were also facing troubles due to freezing of water on main road.
They were on duty at main gate with detector machine and were allowing tourists after proper body search in tighten security.
Some of them was visiting statues of their elders. Arasto a student of 10th class told this scribe that Kalash people usually prepare statues of their forefather to commemorate them and these statues are standing in grave yard in their memory. Earlier that they slaughter goats and cattle to sacrifice and feed people of three valleys. These statues keeping at house for two days and after that they fix it at Grave yard.
They left the cot on the grave of the person whose dead body carrying to grave yard in that cot and hoisting a flag of red color as well as they put their dead bodies in a wooden box by keeping their relevant things in that box.
Some Kalash women and children were seen coming to dancing place from far flung villages through narrow mountainous ways to join the dancing group.
Children were busy by reading poem loudly and were playing on the ground.
SHO police station Bumborat Abdu Fatih said that police are red alert and fully protecting these people and they feel no thread in presence of police.
An Old woman Munibegum said that we are in great troubles because of poor condition of road as well as there is no separate school for girls and we still feeling fear after the thread of Taliban.
On the last day of the Chomas festival some younger couple flee away from dancing house to other valley to announce of their marriage.
Kalash community celebrate different festivals at a year but the main two are Chelum Josh or Joshi and Chomas or Chatarmas. They also celebrate some small festivals while wearing Kalash dress to their children and on birth of sons and wedding ceremony.