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iExplorePakistan A travel writer's journey to portray the beautiful side of his country "Pakistan"

My Travel Writing Scholarship 2011 entry - Journey in an Unknown Culture

PAKISTAN | Friday, 25 March 2011 | Views [619] | Scholarship Entry

My social studies teacher back in school once mentioned about the unique inhabitants living in Hindukush Mountains with a distinct enchanting culture, Kalash. 10 years later, I set up a journey to experience one of the most distinct inhabitants living in Pakistan with their own beautiful culture and norms. The most appealing thing is their long black frocks with colorful embroidery that they have been carrying around since centuries with very slight variation with time.
After reaching Chitral with a bumpy flight from Islamabad, I directly took a cab for Bumboret Valley of Kalash which took almost 3 hours of heavy bumpy road ride.
I was informed on my arrival that The Kalashas have gone to Birir Valley to celebrate the festival and will return the next day for grand celebration. The valley was all silent, no dances, no songs and no colors. I spent my day by roaming around the valley, wandering in the bazaar and having tea at the river side hotel. The houses in the valley are stacked on top of one other going up the hillsides where one’s roof forms veranda to another home above.
The Kalasha pagans still practice their ancient customs. They have a proud and exclusive culture and claim to be the descendants of the armies of Alexander the Great who left behind his campaign in the area although there isn’t any evidence that he passed this way. The people usually trace Greek civilization and physical characteristics among the Kalash.
They are fond of dancing particularly on the occasion of birth, death and marriages. They Dance alone, in couples.
Every year they celebrate around 4 festivals named as Joshi (Chilimjust), Uchal, Phool and Chaumos and I got the opportunity to experience Kalash Spring Festival during mid May which is dedicated to spring and to future harvests. They celebrated it by Day dancing and family reunion.
I was really impressed by how the Kalasha women carry on their unique culture and one can easily identify them from a distance. My hotel owner told me an interesting fact that the Kalasha men always wear a feather on their cap and that’s what differentiates them from other men in the valley since Kalasha valley has two third Muslim population.
The festival stared with a family reunion. They dance over the drum, the women dance in a circle, their arms around one another’s waists and shoulders in spinning twos or threes or trance-like encircling lines. Men and Women both sing together in a melodious tone like a beautiful folk music while I enjoyed all this sitting in one of the corners with local crowd.
The festival caries on for three days that includes different kind of dances and rituals then the valley comes back to its normal routine. My stay in the valley was short, without any electricity and connection with the outer world. It is a world in itself that keeps you away from the outer world and let you indulge in a complete new experience.

Tags: #2011writing, travel writing scholarship 2011

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