Pakistan FESTIVAL MUST-SEE: CHILAM JOSHI CHILAM JOSHI
May 12–16, 2018
A celebration of spring, this festival is unique to the Kalash Valley tribe. Ten days before the festival, dairy farmers set aside large quantities of milk, and the day before the festival, people decorate their homes with walnut branches and flowers.
Commemorating the abundance of dairy products during the season, the four-day festivities begin with goat milk and other dairy products being distributed among the community. Infants may be baptised in milk. People may also offer milk to the god Goshidai by pouring milk over an idol of the god, or spreading the milk in their fields. This is followed by a prayer for the safety of their herds and for a good harvest of crops in the coming year.
Women wear traditional black floor-length dresses with elaborate floral patterns, beaded necklaces and ornate headdresses, called copesi, made from stones and thread. Men don the traditional dress and cap, finished off with woollen waistcoats. These traditional outfits are made by hand three months before the festival. Together, they dance folk dances in circles while singing traditional songs to the rhythm of music and drums. Single youths use the opportunity to seek out potential partners.
A sacred song, called gatch, is also performed, praying for the abundance of milk. Other songs about the past of the tribe and its ruling days – and prayers to the dead – are also sung. Near the end of the festivities, tribe elders will tell stories and legends from the past for younger members to hear.
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