The annual festival of chillam Joshi is being started in Kailash valley of Chitral. This festival is celebrated every year from May 13 to May 16. The festival is ranked really high, being one of the most colourful events in Pakistan. This is why thousands of tourists visit Kailash to watch the festival. The festival represents the daily life and rich culture of Kailashi tribe. The festival commemorates the arrival of spring and celebrates the abundance of dairy products during the season
Nestled in Hindu Kush Mountains, Kailash mainly comprise three valleys: Rambor, Brier and Bumburate in the extreme northwestern part of Pakistan. As the spring approaches, all the three valleys begin there preparations for the festival celebrations. All the Kailashi people from the three valleys gather in Bumburate for the celebrations.
People from here living according to the centuries old traditions and have adopted old traditions like the religion including their marriage, deaths, hospitality, friendship, religious rituals and annual ceremonies. These are the features that invite tourists to Chitral and the specialty of the Kailash valley.
The Chilam Joshi is the festival of spring and the local inhabitants start their preparation months before. As the month of May starts, vegetation grows everywhere and the area is engulfed by its fragrance, snow starts melting into rivers and the mountains reflect lights from snowy glass which makes the area more attractive.
Chilam Joshi is also a religious festival and food is prepared with special arrangements. In the first days of the festival, goat milk is collected from the villagers by the elderly people, brought to a fixed spot and distributed. The milk is considered as sacred and everyone wishes to get at least on drop of that milk to purify their inner self. Infants are the first to get this milk, then the other children, youngsters and elderly people. Then the elderly people of the tribe prepare the special bread under open sky with various flours and dry fruits and distribute it to the community. They pray for the safeguard of their fields and animals by distributing milk and bread among loved ones.
All males and females then pass through a specific field where women dance and sing on the drum beat and the process continues till sunset. Women have unique status in the culture of Kailash, majority of the home decisions are made by women including domestic chores, livestock care and farming. Here, women are aware of the rich culture and civilization of the valley; their colored clothes, special hats and necklace make them different from the world.
The last day of Chilam Joshi is very important, in afternoon when the Kailashi are gathered in a field, all women who are of any age again start singing and dancing in circle. At that time, some religious leaders get together bringing green branches in hands from the nearby fields and greeted by women.
The final moments of the festival are really unique; the opportunity to express love openly; the lovers come closer to each other, grab hands and announce marriage and then youth starts expressing their happiness through screaming , laughing and congratulating to each other.
The celebration highlights their cultural richness, plethora of colours and the underlying message of peace and love.