CHITRAL: The five-day Kalash spring festival of Chilim Jusht will be a low key event this year in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

The festival is scheduled to start from May 12 in the three valleys of Bumburate, Birir and Rumbur.

The festival heralds the arrival of spring season in the valley after a harsh winter of five months. It is the most important of all the local festivals, during which it is mandatory for every person of the religion to observe certain rituals.

The preparations normally starts about 40 days before its commencement as the Kalash people renovate their houses, replace old house appliances and beddings with new ones and stitch new clothes.

Due to lockdown in Chitral city, the people could not purchase different items while in past the city shops would teem with Kalash people, especially women, shopping in the local markets.

Bashir Hussain, a shopkeeper in Shahi Bazaar, said this year the shops were kept closed due to the lockdown and the Kalash people were not allowed to travel to the city as transport was also banned.

Said Gul, an educated woman from Bumburate, told this scribe that preparations for the festival were in full swing.

Lower Chitral deputy commissioner Naveed Ahmed told this correspondent that no foreigner or local tourist would be allowed to enter the Kalash valleys during the festival.

He said that standard operating procedures (SOPs) were being devised in consultation with the Kalash elders to be followed during the festival.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2020

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