Ancient culture: Chawmoss festival concludes

Young couples announce marriages in a ritual full of fun, laughter and dance

Our Correspondent December 23, 2018
Kailash people celebrate on the last day of Chowmoss festival. PHOTOS: EXPRESS

PESHAWAR: The Kailash community’s colourful 15-day annual winter festival of Chatarmas or Chawmoss ended amid great fun fare at Bumburet Valley on Saturday.

On the final day, the members of the ancient tribes, old and young, men, women and children sang and danced to their folk tunes to welcome the new year at the end of winter solstice.

The Kailash community, said to be descendants of Greek warriors accompanying Alexander the Great, celebrates different festivals every year but the main two are Chelum Josh or Joshi and Chowmoss or Chatarmas.

The secluded ethnic group of almost 4,500 people has been declared Intangible World Heritage by the UN and enjoys official patronage of the government of Pakistan in performing all of its rituals. The main winter event of Chawmoss was simultaneously celebrated in the valleys Rumbur, Birir and Bumburet valleys.

The people of the exotic religion exchanged fruits, vegetables, flowers and dried fruits with vows to forge love, peace, friendship, fraternity among themselves.

Earlier, children had cleaned the holy place of Kailas with pine twigs before the holding of annual great bonfire.

Children, considered sign of continuity life, dressed in colourful dresses darted about the village receiving gifts of fresh fruits.

On the final day, the locals gathered at Bumborate valley to jointly conclude the annual religious festival.

As part of their religious customs, the Kailash men and women sang songs and performed folk dance to the beat of drums. Teenagers wearing animal hides and masks enthralled the audience with their performances. A number of different colourful events were also held during the festival. By the end of the festival, young Kailash men and women announced their marriages in front the audience.

During this ritual called Savilakehari festival, men, women and children wearing new and colourful clothes gather at a place and sing love songs for each other. They dance together and praise each other.

In this fun-filled festival, young Kailash girls wear boys’ dresses and boys clad themselves in girls’ clothes and dance in chorus. They express their feelings for each other and announce their marriage.

During the festival, Kailash men and women perform folk dances in honour of their god Balimain, who is believed to visit Kailash during the time of the festival.

A large number of tourists, local as well as foreign, also attended the festival. Speaking to the media, tourists who visited the valley also praised the festival. SHO police station Bumburate said, police were on red alert and fully protecting these people and they feel no threat in the presence of police.

K-P Chief Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch was present on the concluding day of Chowmoss. He also visited various historical places of the Kailash people. Besides, the minority MPA of Kailash Community Wazir Zada interacted with the media and tourists explaining to them the Kailash culture and way of life.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2018.


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