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Chitral is a district which is located in the northwestern region of Pakistan. It is very well known for its peaceful people and beautiful landscapes, mountainous region. Chitral is a very remote area and it is very hard to access it during winters because the roads are blocked and sometimes the only route left is going through Afghanistan which is very dangerous due to the terrorist presence. The people residing in kalash are thought to be of Turkish as well as Persian origin but nothing is confirmed due to lack of information, another popular belief is that the Kalash tribes are the direct descendants of the soldiers of Alexander the Great. The houses of the Kalash people are made up of local stones and woods. These areas do not have a lot of technology and they make a living out of crops such as lentils or wheat, apart from that they also herd goats which helps them in their earnings.
The people of Chitral and Kalash are also very famous for their extremely unique dresses and dances which they carry out, they are very fond of music as well (Specially the tribes of kalash). There are drums playing which the women would dance in a circle and some elderly people would be sitting on the side and singing old songs during festivals. All the dancing which takes place is supposed to be medium to which the Kalash people thank their gods for everything that the Almighty has provided them with. Women who are not married yet or are single are supposed to find themselves a husband or man during these festivals. The culture of Chitral and Kalash is something which can be termed as “inimitable” which generally means very hard or impossible to follow for other people. In the southern region of Punjab you would find Kalash people who are known to be atheist and keep their values and culture very close to them, they practice it for centuries and it is an extremely old culture. A very important element of the Chitral Culture is “Mahraka”. The meaning of Mahraka is basically is just a gathering of a group of people from the region, and this gathering is headed by a religious leader from the majority. Age and wisdom are the only two criterions which are required from people in order to be able to attend such gatherings, which goes on to show that these are not for just any random person but serious matters are discussed in it and high standards are set. Mahraka plays a very vital role when it comes to the dissemination of ethnic culture and wisdom in the region. A lot of administrative problems as well as other issues were discussed in this meeting of the elders and decisions were made. There was proper dinner and food served at these meetings.
The main language spoken in the district of Chitral is Khowar, whereas the people of Kalash speak kalasha which is also known as Kalasha-mondr. Urdu is widely understood by everyone in the region and so is Pashto, whereas the latter is spoken a lot as well.
The majority of the people in the district Chitral are Sunni-Muslims where as there are a lot of Shias as well. However the People of kalash and various tribes of it are thought to believe in various gods and believe in very old rituals and religions.
There are various festivals which are celebrated in the district of Chitral which people from other parts of Pakistan have most likely never even heard about. One of such festivals is Jashn-e-Nowroz which is celebrated on 21st march every year. This is basically a religion festival which is celebrated in the memories of a Sufi saint who introduced the Ismaili faith in this region, the name of the Sufi Saint was Peer Nasir Khisraw. Another very famous festival held in this region is the Shandoor Polo festival, now everyone in Pakistan as well as around the globe is aware that Polo is played in this region at 10,000 feet’s above the sea level and this is not something very ordinary, ordinary people have breathing issues at such heights but these people not only manage to breath but play in such conditions which shows how strong and immune they are to these conditions. The main event and match is between the teams of Gilgit and Chitral who are arch rivals. This event is played normally during the summer because it is impossible to play during the harsh weather which the winter brings, so normally the event is organized in the month of July annually.
These were the main festivals celebrated in the Chitral district however the tribes of Kalash have some of their own festivals which they celebrate which are included as follows. Chilmijhust which is also known as Joshi is celebrated during the spring harvest season which lasts for around 4-6 days every year. This is followed by another festival in the month of August which is called Uchal. During the month of December the festival of chitirmus which is celebrated with great joy and to pray for a better year which is coming.
There are a lot of traditional dishes of Chitral such as the Pandir Muzhi which is made from walnut and cheese, crushed in between the dough of wheat and cooked in the oven. Other popular dishes of Chitral are zholai, pushor tiki, kali, Kawirogh, and lazhek.
Music is a very important part of the Chitral culture, drums and sitar are played while men get in circles and dance during annual festivals and weddings as well. Some instruments which are popular amongst the people of Chitral are; Sitar, Dol, Sunai, Damama, beru, Gharba.
The people of Chitral are very skilled and they make a lot of hand made products which are then sold worldwide, an American entrepreneur took this advantage and took handkerchief which were made by the Chitrali women and sold them in American earning huge profits. These people are not only skillful but very creative as well.