Uchaw festival kicks off in Kalash valley, Chitral

 .. by Shah Murad Baig

CHITRAL: Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Minorities’ Affairs Wazirzada inaugurated the Kalash religious festival Uchaw in his native Rambur valley on Monday.

Besides provincial Minister for Prisons Shafiullah Khan, Member National Assembly Mian Mahboob, Member Provincial Assembly Ranjit Sigh, District Police Officer Sonia Shimroz Khan, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf central leaders Mussadiq Ghaman, Anwar Khan, Abdul Latif, Israr Saboor and others, a large number of domestic and foreign tourists were present at the opening ceremony.

Chief of Kalasha tribe Qazi Sherzada Khan welcomed the guests and the tourists and presented them traditional dress ‘chapan’ to the CM aide and others. Also, boys and girls sang traditional songs with a drumbeat and danced in a chorus to entertain the guests and visitors.

Later, Wazirzada along with guests and tourists visited the ancient religious Jashtakan architecture, abodes of Kalash people and the historic museum in the valley. Museum In-charge Akram Hussain briefed the guests and visitors about the ancient antiques dated back to centuries-old religious, culture and the tradition of Kalash people.

The Uchaw festival is celebrated in all three valleys of the Kalash tribe. The festival is essentially a thanksgiving ceremony in which people express gratitude to Nature for providing fruits, milk and grains.

The festival is one of the religious and cultural festivals celebrated by Kalasha tribe like many other festivals around the year. Unesco listed Kalash culture as “Intangible Cultural Heritage” in November 2018.

The Kalash people celebrate Uchaw festival as harvesting and bringing the cheese down from the higher pastures by the shepherds. The cheese, which are brought down from the pastures, will be taken to the Alters and offer as thanksgiving for good livestock and harvest of crops and fruits. It takes place at day time in Rambur valley and night time at Bamburet valley, which lasts until morning.

The festival starts with a ceremony in Sajigore, a worship place, where milk products and fruits are distributed. Special thanksgiving rituals are also arranged and people then assemble at a dancing place called Natikayen, where boys and girls sing and dance together. .. Source

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