Gul Hammad Farooqi
The 3-day long Joshi festival, also known as Chelum Josht Festival, concluded today at Birir Village of Kalash Valley on Tuesday. There was tight security in place to ensure safety of the minority Kalash people, as they celebrated their seasonal and religious festival, in presence of hundreds of domestic and foreign tourists.
The Kalash tribes hold a number of festivals, including Joshi (known as Chelum Josht in the local Chitrali language) in the month of May, to celebrate the arrival of spring in the mountainous areas. They Kalash collect milk, cheese, curd, and dry fruit before starting the festival and distribute the same among women and children during inauguration of the festival.
Joshi festival is celebrated every year at different dates in different villages, i.e. May 13 to 14 at Rumbor Valley, 15 to 16 at Bumborte Valley and 17-18 May at Birir valley. During this festival Kalash man beat drum and their women perform folk and traditional dance, while singing songs to welcome the spring, a season of beauty and life. Boys and girls dance in semi-circles, hands on shoulders of each other .
The Kalash first gathered at a designated place in the village and then moved to a special dance place, Charso, at Batrik village.
On the last day of the festival Kalash women also move to the Charso (dancing place), holding tree twigs, leaves and roses in their hands, while some women perform a traditional dance in the fields. The whole scenario looks medieval and romantic.
Non-Kalash are not allowed to join the circles of dance. The festival of dance, happiness, wine and more dance continues for three days. It is during one of these nights that the unmarried Kalash boy elopes with a girl and runs away from home to marry her. The ritual has great social and religious significance for the Kalash, one of the rarest, more vulnerable, ethnic groups of Pakistan.