When one talks about the festivals, Chitral Valley ranks at the top. Chilam Joshi Festival is the most famous one among all other festivals in the valley. This spring festival marks the arrival of colors to this land of beauty.
Northern areas of Pakistan have been attracting tourists from all around the world. The cultural importance of these destinations increased when in 2018, Kalash Culture was declared an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO.
If you are interested in getting to know more about Kalashi culture and witnessing this amazing spring festival, I have gathered all the necessary details to make your trip memorable.
Dates Of The Festival
Chlam Joshi is celebrated in May every year by the tribe of Kalash, also known as the Ismaili people.
The festival is expected to start on 13th May and end on 16th May this year.
Details Of The Chilam Joshi Festival
The people of Kalash celebrate every new season and send their gratitude to god for giving them food and all other blessings. Chilam Joshi is the festival of the spring season.
The festival starts from the Rumbur Valley and further goes to Bumburet, and Birir.
This season marks the arrival of spring and thus Kalashi people come out to welcome all the colors of nature. To them, this festival makes the gods happy and therefore blesses their harvests.
This is a four-day festival with a proper beginning and ending. The events that take place during the celebration are mentioned below.
The festival starts with milk day. Initially, all the households store milk for almost 10 days before the start of the festival. The stored milk is further used to start the festivities and celebrations.
The stored milk is also offered to gods for their blessings. Locals believe that the offerings make gods happy and thus they keep all the bad luck away from their fields.
Another major aspect of the Chilam Joshi Festival is the purification ceremony. In this event, babies under 1 year of age and their mothers are purified.
It is said that without the purification ceremony, the babies and the mothers are not allowed to be part of the celebrations.
NOTE: The people of Kalash belong to the Ismaili religion, therefore their rituals are contrary to that of Islam.
Fun Activities In The Festival
Apart from major events, there are a lot of small activities that you can enjoy when on a trip to Kalash during the Chilam Joshi Festival.
- You get to see a lot of females wearing traditional dresses and decorating themselves with traditional jewelry.
- Streets are filled with happy people. People are dancing to traditional songs and Kalashi music.
- You can smell the delicious local cuisines from miles away.
- There will be a lot of locals telling tales of how the festival initially started and how it impacted their lives. Indeed, learning history is one of the most interesting to do.
Games In The Festival
- sack race
- Tug of War
Where To Stay
There are several options to stay while on the festival of Chilam Joshi. However, you must keep in mind that most tourists visit the valley during this festival.
It is wise to book your hotels before coming to avoid any inconvenience. Here are a few suggestions you can choose to plan a stay.
- Roomy Hindukush Sarai Chitral
- Legend Hotel Chitral
- Kalash Continental Hotel & Resort
- PTDC Motel Chitral
- Ayun Fort Inn
Tips For Foreigners
There is no secret that Chilam Joshi has been attracting tourists from all around the world. The beauty of Chitral and Kalash valley filled with the celebration of this festival makes it a worth-visiting place.
However, as a foreigner, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before planning the trip. I am here to clear all your doubts regarding your tour and give you an honest picture of things.
- The initial concern is how you are going to reach the destination. We suggest you join some tour company or a tour group. These groups have it all planned before the trip and thus you will not have to worry about anything except enjoying the festival.
- Although the people of Kalash are not conservative and welcome tourists with happiness, it is still better to not get too close to them without your tour guide.
- Moreover, the females might not feel easy with you taking your camera around everywhere. Thus, get permission before doing anything. This will reduce your chance of offending someone.
- It is good to be part of the festival celebration. However, you need to be careful. Offending someone’s religious beliefs is always at risk.
- You must remember to keep the place clean and take good care of the environment.
Other Festivals in Kalash
As mentioned before, the land of Kalsh is famous for its unique festivals. These people celebrate each coming season with happiness and ask their god for blessings.
The main Kalash Valley Festivals include:
- Uchal Festival (Autumn)
- Phool Festival (Summer)
- Chaumas Festival (Winter)
Should You Be Investing Your Money For This Festival?
Chialm Joshi is a great way to explore the vibrant colors of Kalash Valley and get to know more about the life of locals. Since the religion of these people is different from that of other Pakistan, the celebrations here are unique and interesting.
The best thing about any trip is observing the culture of that place and getting to know about its traditions. Chilam Joshi festival allows you to have a closer look at these things.
Thus, this festival is completely something you should be investing your money in.
Can visitors attend the Chilam Joshi Festival?
Yes, visitors are welcome to attend the festival and experience the rich cultural traditions of the Kalash people. However, it is important to be respectful of their customs and traditions while visiting.
What does “Chilam Joshi” mean?
“Chilam Joshi” is a Kalasha term, where “Chilam” means a wooden bowl, and “Joshi” refers to the spring season. The festival marks the arrival of spring and the beginning of the sowing season.
Are there any special foods or drinks associated with the festival?
Yes, the Kalash people prepare special dishes during the festival, such as lamb and goat meat dishes, and local bread made from wheat and maize. They also brew a special type of wine from grapes, which is an important part of the festival celebrations.
What is the origin of the Chilam Joshi Festival?
The origin of the Chilam Joshi Festival is not clear. However, the people of Kalash have been celebrating it for more than a thousand years. It is their way to appease their gods and goddesses.
Why do the Kalash people wear colorful dresses and headdresses during the Chilam Joshi Festival?
The Kalash people believe that wearing colorful dresses and headdresses helps to attract the attention of their gods and goddesses and brings good luck and blessings.