CHITRAL: The tour operators, tour guides and hoteliers on Tuesday urged the government to facilitate the tourists coming for the religious festival, Uchaw, in Kalash Valley instead of harassing them at the checkpoints in Chitral district.
Talking to the media, they said that several incidents of harassing the foreign and domestic tourists had happened, which had sent a negative message to the world about the country and damaging tourism in the region.
An official with an international organization had confirmed that he along with foreign tourists were stopped at a checkpoint for hours and were not allowed to visit Chitral.He said that he reached late to attend a meeting due to unnecessary security checking at various checkposts. The tour operators, tour guides and hoteliers said that many tourists had legal documents and visas but they returned due to hurdles being created in the way of visitors on the name of security check, which was damaging to Pakistan’s image.
The tourism stakeholders appealed to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tourism Authority to take up the issue with the security establishment to facilitate tourists visiting Chitral and elsewhere in the province.
Meanwhile, the festival is in full-swing in Bamburet where milk products and fruits are distributed. Special thanksgiving rituals are also arranged and people assemble at a dancing place called Natikayen, where boys and girls sing and dance together.
The Uchaw is a religious festival celebrated in all three valleys of the Kalash tribe. The festival is essentially a thanksgiving ceremony in which people express gratitude to Nature for providing fruits, milk and grains.
The festival is one of the religious and cultural festivals celebrated by Kalash community like many other festivals around the year. Unesco listed Kalash culture as “Intangible Cultural Heritage” in November 2018.
The Kalash people celebrate Uchaw festival as harvesting and bringing the cheese down from the higher pastures by the shepherds. The cheese, which is brought down from the pastures, will be taken to the Alters and offered as thanksgiving for good livestock and harvest of crops and fruits. It takes place at day time in Rambur valley and night time at Bamburet valley, which lasts until morning.