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Chitirmas festival concludes with much funfair

By Our Correspondent
December 23, 2018

CHITRAL: The Kalash winter festival - Chitirmas - concluded on Saturday with much funfair.

Foreign tourists, who had come from different countries to the Kalash valley to have a glimpse of unique culture, traditions and religious rites, enjoyed various events during the 15-day gala in the scenic valley.

Member Provincial Assembly Wazirzada, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch and Malakand Division Commissioner Zaheerul Islam and others attended the concluding ceremony.

The MPA praised the provincial government for the facilities provided to the tourists and the local Kalash community to celebrate the festival.

During Chitirmas or Chawmoss festival, which began on December 7 and continued till 22nd of the current month, the Kalash people organised a number of events, including bonfire competitions, Mandahek, Sharaberayak and Savilakehari to celebrate the festival with religious zeal and zest.

The festival began with bonfire competitions by Kalash children clad in colourful dresses and robes. They collected twigs and branches of pine trees and made bonfire to show off their skills in making high flames and smoke in Ramboor, Bamburet and Birrir valleys.

Making high flames and smoke is meant to welcome peace, prosperity, minerals, green grass and love among the people of the indigenous tribe in the ensuing winter and spring seasons.

The children, while holding green leaves and branches of trees, sang songs and performed chorus dance.

It followed Sharaberayak and Mandahek festivals. In Sharaberayak festival, the Kalash people make toy animals like cows, markhor and symbols of their ancestors from the flour and baked them in the fire. These toy animals then placed in the sun. Later, they are distributed among the relatives and well-wishers.

Similarly, Mandahek is another festival during which tree branches are set on fire and people observe five minute silence.

Young Kalash girls wear boys’ dresses and boys clad themselves in girls clothes and dance in chorus. They express their feelings for each other and announce their marriage.

The Tourism Department had made appropriate arrangements including installation of lighting system, provision of transport and other facilities so that the local community and tourists could celebrate the festival in a befitting manner.

Khyber Pakhtunkhawa Senior Minister for Sports, Tourism, Archaeology, Museums, Culture and Youth Affairs Muhammad Atif Khan had issued directives to the quarters concerned to provide every facility to the locals and foreign tourists.

He had also announced Rs560 million for highlighting the Kalash culture to the world.

The Kalasha winter festival “Chitirmas, or Chawmoss” is the biggest festival of the year. The festival begins as winter starts around mid-December.