Haji Gulzar Khan being received by Kalash women on reaching Rumbur valley, Chitral. — Dawn
Haji Gulzar Khan being received by Kalash women on reaching Rumbur valley, Chitral. — Dawn

CHITRAL: It was a rare occasion in Rumbur valley when a pilgrim was given a ‘red-carpet’ welcome by the people of Kalash community including women and children, who received him with unprecedented warmth and enthusiasm on entering the valley after performing Haj.

Gulzar Khan, 62, a resident of Rumbur valley, had converted to Islam a few years ago. He went to Saudi Arabia for performing Haj this year after retiring from Chitral Levies where he served as a soldier.

Javed Hayat, teacher in a local school, told Dawn that the road leading to the house of Gulzar Khan was decorated and two makeshift decorative gates were erected. He said that two oxen were offered by the Kalash community for slaughtering and feeding the same to the guests.

Mr Hayat said that Kalash people, standing in queues on both sides of the road, waved at the pilgrim and kept on garlanding him till he reached his home.

Touching scenes at reception ceremony surprise tourists

He seemed a moving heap of garlands, he added.

“The men and women kissed his hand to show their respect and affection for him.

The reception ceremony offered unforgettable and unforeseen touching scenes,” he said.

Mr Hayat said that non-local tourists present on the occasion were surprised by witnessing the scenes of reception being accorded by the non-Muslim Kalash community to a Muslim on performing a religious ritual.

He said that two of the sons of Gulzar Khan were still Kalash while his wife and three daughters had embraced Islam.

It showed the catholicity of religious views on the part of both Muslims and Kalash, who coexisted peacefully, he added.

Earlier, Gulzar Khan was received at Peshawar airport on landing there by the Kalash community, led by MPA Wazir Zada Kalash, who drove him to the MPAs Hostel from where he left for Chitral.

The MPA told Dawn that the welcome given to Gulzar Khan both in Peshawar and Kalash valley in a befitting manner showed the prevalence of ideally cordial relations between the two communities.

He said that the survival of Kalash people with their primitive culture of thousands of years was due to the Muslim community’s peacefulness and their respect for the minorities. “Kalash community has never left any stone unturned in reciprocation of the gesture of goodwill,” said the MPA.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2019