May 12–16, 2018

Asian Geographic - - South Asia -

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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