By Farzana Khan
Chitral means a ‘field’ in Khowar, the native language, and it is also spelled as Qashqar’ or ‘Chetrar.’ Areawise, it is the largest district of Khyber Pakhtunkhaw (KPK), covering an area of 14,850 square kilometers.
Its picturesque mountains, springs, fascinating combination of green areas, hospitable people and rivers teeming with the trout fish are truly spellbinding.
Chitral is also the most peaceful region of Pakistan. Its culture is unique and rich and is recognized worldwide.
There are two racial groups in Chitral: one of them is Kalash who are reported to be the descendants of Alexander the Great.
These two racial groups have lived together peacefully for centuries. Kalash are in a minority and have a population of only about 4,000.
Cultural relativism remains the main focus in this area, never being ethnocentric either religiously or culturally. The Kalash people have their own identity totally different from the other communities.
The language of local people called Khow is is Khowar while the Kalash use their own Kalasha language.
Kalash live in small villages near the banks of streams built on hillsides in three small southwestern valleys. Because of the steepness of the slopes, their houses are double-storeyed and are constructed of rough-hewn logs.
Kalash are very lively people and are famous for their religious festivals. Their picturesque headgear is prepared by woolen black material which is crowned with a large colored feather and adorned out with cowrie shells, beads and buttons.
They have their own cultural dress, especially female’s uses a lot of jewelries and wear black frocks which is traditionally embroided on all sides of the frock. Even today in certain parts of Greece, some women sport a similar head covering.
The Kalash people love dancing and music especially on occasions of their religious festivals like Chitirmas- Winter Festival (15th to 21st December), Chilimjusht or Joshi spring festival (13th & 16th May). The valleys of Bumburet, Rumbur and Birir have an alpine climate.
The people of Chitral have their own traditional dress, embroided by their owns elves. The people of Chitral mostly wear Shalwar Kameez which is the national dress of Pakistan. Women wear Duppatas and shawls along with shalwar kameez. The most popular headdress of Chitrali men is the woolen Pakhol.” In winters, men wear long baggy coats having long sleeves known as the shuqa. These coats are also made out of wool. While the women also use some embroidery caps mainly in winter season, the local language it’s called as khoi.
The artisans of the locals are also known for a wide for a wide range of wood working, embroidery, woven and knitted textiles.
These and the diversity in the culture attracts the tourists from different places both national and international towards the area. Traditional sport of Chitral is polo. World’s highest polo ground (Shandur) is also located in this area, where the annual polo festival takes place between July 7-9. This cultural integrity became an icon and attracts people especially tourists from all over the world.
Chitral is recognized as a very peace Preserving culture of Chitral ful region in Pakistan as well as in the world.