Kalash Festivals Chitral, Pakistan : Festival in Chitral (2024)

Kalash Festivals are among the most famous festivals in Pakistan. Most of the people in Pakistan are Muslim however, the people of Kalash are polytheist (similar to ancient Hinduism)

They believe in many Gods and ask for their blessings at the beginning of every season. They offer their offerings to these Gods and celebrate the blessings.

These celebrations are further divided into multiple festivals. Since these things are rare and unique, tourists turn to these Kalash every year to witness these festivals and rituals performed here.

Major Kalah Festivals

Kalash festivals mostly take four times a year, covering all four seasons. Below-mentioned is the major Kalash Festivals.

  • Chilam Joshi
  • Uchal
  • Phool Festival
  • Chaumas Festival
  • Nowruz Festival

Chilam Joshi 

Spring is the season of blessings. Kalash people fully celebrate the arrival of this colorful season. Chilam Joshi Festival is their way of marking the arrival of spring.

This four-day festival is celebrated mostly in Bumburet, Birir, and Rumbur. To start the festivals, milk from the households is stored almost 10 days before. This milk is then used to start the festival. The beginning is known as Milk Day.

For the festival, people of the valley make new clothes and get ready with heavy accessories. All the girls go to the hillside to sing and dance and welcome the season with happiness.

Purification is another major aspect of this festival. Babies of 1 year of age and their mothers are purified during the festivals. In addition, the people offer the stored milk to the gods to ask for their blessings.

Season Of Festival

The festivals of Chilam Joshi take place in the spring season.

Dates Of The Festival

It is a four-day festival and usually takes place between 13 May to 16 May.


Just like spring, the people of Kalash also celebrate the harvesting festival. The annual harvesting is celebrated during Uchal festival. The main concept of this festival is to thank nature for its blessings.

This famous festival is celebrated with a lot of singing and dancing. The main blessings they thank nature for are wheat and barley. Summer is the season of harvesting these two crops, thus they celebrate the blessings bestowed upon them.

To celebrate the festival, special food is prepared. Most common dishes to see there include cornbreads, cheese, and buttermilk. You will also find women in their traditional dress, dancing all night and thanking their gods and nature.

Season Of Festival

Uchal Festival is celebrated during the summer season and is therefore also known as the summer festival.

Dates Of The Festival

The 3-day festival starts on 20 August and last till 22 August.

Phool Festival

The season of autumn brings the reaping of walnuts and grapes. To celebrate it, the people of Kalash have a Phool Festival. This colorful festival lasts for 2 days with all-night celebrations.

Walnuts are the specialty of Kalash, and therefore the harvesting is celebrated to the fullest. It is mostly celebrated in the Birir Valley of Kalash. People celebrate it with high spirits and enthusiasm.

You will hear a lot of traditional dancing and people singing songs in the local language. You will find happiness spreading around the valley with celebrations that last the entire night.

(The local language of Kalash is Kalasha-mun. It is an Indo-Aryan Language)

Season Of Festival

Phool Festival is celebrated in the Autumn season.

Dates Of The Festival

The festival mostly starts in Mid-October. Mostly it is a 2-3 days celebration, but sometimes it goes on for a week.

Chaumas Festival

The end of the harvest season and fieldwork are celebrated to the fullest. Since the entire valley is covered in snow so there is no harvesting during the season.

This festival is special as it is annual and includes the sacrifice of goats. It is said that the festival is dedicated to god Balimain. As per the old beliefs, the go Balimain visit the land of Kalash during the feast.

As per the myths, god comes from Tsyam (the mythological homeland of the Kalash). People also go around looking for foxes. Seeing foxes is considered a good omen.

The food sacrifices are said to be dedicated to the ancestors at the clans’ Jeshtak Shrines. However, the main rituals take place at a Tok tree. It is also called Indra’s place among locals.

Fire Ritual Of Festival 

The fire ritual is the most famous and important ritual of the Chaumas festival. In this ritual, both men and women are said to be purified. Since the impure person is not admitted to the celebrations, purification is necessary.

There are different ways of purifying both men and women. It is necessary to wave a firebrand over women and children to purify them.

Men are purified with juniper brands waved over them by shamans during special fire rituals.

Read more: Malam Jabba Ski Resort- A Complete Travel Guide

Season Of Festival

Chaumas Festival takes place in winter during December. It is also called the winter festival.

Dates Of The Festival

The festival usually starts between 7 to 15 December and lasts till 22 December.

Snow Hockey

Snow Hockey (or Snow Golf) is among the many unique festivals in Kalash Valley. This unique sports tournament attracts many people to witness it. There are proper teams that participate in the tournament.

A hockey-like stick and a disc-like ball are used to play this unique game. The teams compete against each other like in any normal hockey game. Each team has 11 players.

People from all around the world come to see this unique game. The crowd here is also an interesting thing to see. People shouting and cheering their teams and the energy here makes your entire game more interesting,

Nowruz Festival Chitral Pakistan

Apart from the seasonal festival, the Persian new year celebration attracts the most tourists to the Gilgit Baltistan region of Pakistan. The Nowruz festival is mostly celebrated by the Ismaili tribe of Pakistan.

According to history, people from Iran came for preaching around 2500 years ago. They brought this ancient Iranian festival with them. Thus, the people of Gilgit Baltistan have been celebrating Nowruz since then.

The festival is celebrated with a lot of fun and enjoyment. There are several sports during the festival. Polo matches are, however, the most famous ones.

If you are on a visit to Gilgit Baltistan during the time of celebrations, you can enjoy yourself with cultural dances and local cuisines. Many girls, especially from schools, have their own stalls during the festival.

Polo Matches

Many countries celebrate the Nowruz festival with prayers. However, in Chitral, the celebrations take an interesting turn. There are several polo matches held in the honor of the Persian new year.

The polo matches have several teams participating from different parts of Pakistan. Each team has six players in it.

NOTE: Most of the teams are either from Chitral or from Gilgit Baltistan.

The match is divided into two halves, each half consisting of 25 minutes. Moreover, there is a 10 minutes break among the half times as well.

The interesting fact about the game is that it is played on horses. However, if a player’s horse/pony is injured, he will not be allowed to have a new one. Usually, if the player of one team leaves the field, the other team also reduces one player, making it a fair game.

The basic rule of playing the game controlling the mallet (a small ball) with a polo stick while sitting on the horse. The team which manages to score more by the end of the match wins the game.

NOTE: The polo field is almost 200 meters by 56 meters long. 

Four Tuesdays

The festival is divided into four Tuesdays. In addition, each of the four Tuesdays before the main event represents a very different element. The first Tuesday is said to mark the water day. It is therefore called Water Tuesday.

It is believed that water is one of the major sources of renewing nature. Therefore, people dedicate the entire day to praising the water and how it is playing its part in life.

The next Tuesday after is called Fire Tuesday. Many people believe that fire day represents the rebirth of new life and a new year. Therefore, Ismaili people dedicate an entire day to fire.

Furthermore, the next Tuesday is called Earth Tuesday. This Tuesday celebrated the new birth of the Planet and how it has managed to survive another year.

Lastly, the final Tuesday is called Wind Tuesday. It is the day these people dedicate to winds. The winds are said to mark the presence of spring and open the buds.

Dates Of The Festival

It is a 3-day festival that starts on 21st March and ends on 23rd March.

NOTE: Nowruz is celebrated internationally. However, the most common countries to celebrate the festival include Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, India, and Pakistan.


Kalash valley is among the most beautiful places in Pakistan. Surrounded by the Hindu Kush Mountains, the scenery of the place is a must-see. The beauty of the valley is enhanced by the interesting festivals.

Every season brings a new festival with it. Seeing these rituals and celebrations is a lot of fun. These festivals, each with a different meaning, are the heart of Kalash. Observing them at least once in your life is a must-do thing.


What is the reason behind Chilam Joshi Festival? 

The Chilam Joshi festival begins in the Kalash valley in Rumbur before moving on to other regions. During this occasion, Kalashi people offer prayers for the protection of their farms and livestock before entering their fields, and they used to offer milk to their gods for this purpose.

Where do the Kalash festivals take place? 

A historic-cultural celebration known as the Kalash festival is held annually at roughly the same time in the Kalash valley of Pakistan.

What is the religion of the people in Kalash?

People in the Kalash are polytheist worshipers, resembling early variants of Hinduism, who sacrifice animals to their gods. Their faith and culture are intertwined, and they celebrate several distinctive holidays.

What is the local language of Kalash? 

The Kalash people of Pakistan’s Chitral District speak the Indo-Aryan language of Kalasha (also known regionally as Kal’as’amondr). Kalasha speakers number 5,000, according to estimates.

Is Kalash an old Valley?

The Kalash are the modern descendants of some of the initial migrants into the Indian subcontinent from West Asia because the average time of separation between them and other people currently living in this area was calculated to be 11,800 years ago.

What is the traditional dress of Kalash?

The women of the Kalash community still wear traditional clothing, which includes colorful headgear covering their intricately braided hair, a full-length black robe that is cinched at the waist, and a ton of beaded necklaces. The men of the Kalash community have long since embraced Pakistan’s popular dress (shalwar kameez).

Why are Kalash festivals unique? 

The Kalasha minority, which is recognized for its diverse polytheistic beliefs, stands out among Pakistan’s monotheistic Muslim majority. One of the regions of the globe with the greatest cultural diversity is South and Southeast Asia.

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