Chomos - The Longest and sacred Festival of Kalash Tribe

December 23, 2018 cultural 1813

People of Kalash Tribe of District Chitral KPK Paksitan celebrated their religious festival Chomos with their famous rituals, sheeshao (a purification day) and goshang with great joyousness and fervour.

The “Chomos” festival is celebrated by the Kalash Tribe of District Chitral KPK Paksitan by the end of the year.  This is supposed the longest festival of Kalash tribe that lasts till the end of December from beginning of the same month. The festival is actually announces and welcomes the New Year.  Some of its parts are comprises of Goshang, Soshaoo and others. Few of its rituals are about the purification of tribal men and women. The purification rituals are a bit like an ancient Hindu Tribes of Cholistan , However the ‘remembering of dead’ ritual is like Halloween day which is celebrated in west.

Some natives are of opinion that it starts from September however the elders and spiritual leader of tribe starts it by the first week of December which lasts the end of this month. This is quite religious festival of Kalash tribe. The Kalasha men and women dance around the fire, they change their dance steps by following the drum beat and folk song. All the men and women wear their cultural dress on this occasion and the head dress of women called ‘Khopsi’ is presented them by their maternal uncles. Few of women also make a tattoo paint on their faces which is an ancient ritual of the tribe. All the festivals of kalash tribe are supposed a best chance to choose life partners.

On Chomos festival the kalash people remember their dead relatives , they also offer their offerings of walnuts and other dry fruits to their dead. They remove the cover of dead body’s box and talk to the spirits of their dead relatives. Here it must be noted that the people of kalash tribe don’t burry or burn their dead. They just left the dead body box in the graveyard. After performing this ritual this is suppose that their offerings have been accepted and purified by the deity. All the food stuff is distributed among the older women.

Read More: Diwali Festival with Ancient Hindu Tribes of Cholistan

The ritual of purification is called ‘Shushaao’ . Both men and women are purified separately. This is supposed that when Balomin deity makes visit of valleys and he only carries the prayers to the big deity of those who are found purified. All the men and women take bath before the beginning of the chomos festival. The kalash people also purify their villages, land, harvest and animals on this festival

Both men and women make bread of crushed wall nut with flour , some cheese is also added in it. They prepare these thick ‘chapatis’ a bit far away from their houses. Every woman and man makes almost five chapatis for the purification. After or before the ‘sushaao’ they cannot see any stranger. The spiritual leader or elders of kalash tribe performs all these sacred rituals. After this purification all the breads is distributed. The females also wash her all clothes and plates to ensure the purification.

The spiritual leader ‘qazi’ or elder makes purification by scarifying the goats for men and women. Every man has to take his hegoat and every female must have a goat to participate in this sacred ritual. After the sacrifice the blood of hegoat is sprinkled on the faces of men further more during this ritual they are not allowed to sit down.

After this scarifying of goat men and women live separately in mountains a far away for the period of forty days. Usually the men of tribe live in stable place or community hall. During the separate stay of forty days they arrange enough grapes and meat for themselves.

If someone don’t participate in this ritual he/she does not allowed participating in the remaining rituals. The superstition element in this ritual is that If someone comes late in this ritual he is supposed the reason of evil or this is supposed that the whole tribe can suffer. This is also observed that foreigners are also allowed to participate in this ritual along with his goat and kalash tribe have no problem with their participation.

Read More: Urs Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Farid ends on Saturday

Goshang is also one of famous ritual of chomos festival. They choose a best place for this purpose it can be gree(dancing place of kalash) or any community hall (jashtakan). On this great occasion the small children are entered into kalash tribe by wearing them full kalash cultural dress. After performing this ritual formally they became a part of kalash tribe. The maternal uncle gives the goat to these boys and girls as present and the parents of girl/boy gives a pot in return that is supposed the blessing sign.

After performing the goshang the children are in front of the statue of ‘sajigor’ deity. All the tribal pray for their blessing and prosperity. This ritual is a bit like Hindu megwal tribe when on the event of holi/diwali they make sit their child in the choth (a circle drawn on ground) and rest of people wants blessings for him/her.

The kalah tribe are of opinion that sajigor has the power to deliver their wishes and prayers to the higher deities. In the presence of all the children dozen goats are scarified to performing this ritual. All the meat is distributed among the tribal people. They are practicing these rituals for hundreds of years and this culture is being transferred generation to generation.  Almost all the major rituals are performed by at homes. Homemade wine is also served during the fesitval

 The procession of kalash men and women reached at gree for their cultural dance. The dancing scene looks so fascinating. Dozens of cameras click try to get a good shot of dance. The elder and qazi of tribe sit on the top of the mountain to see the sun so that they could announce and welcome the New Year. They also present their goat sacrifice in the front of ‘justak’ deity. They also sprinkle the blood of goat in the temples to make please the jastak deity. Few of them present their offerings in the front of ‘Maloosh’ diety.

Having 3800 population this kalash tribe is listed in least populated tribe of world who has unique and fascinating culture that attracts the locals and foreigners. Some suitable arrangements must be done to preserve their language and culture.

Kashif Jamil | Ph.D Scholar

Joined: October 25, 2018

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