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 April 30, 2017


International dance day. Kalash celebrates the day

By Zahiruddin

CHITRAL: On the occasion of international dance day, the people of Chitral lamented the fading away of dance from their culture with the advent of new age while Chitral had a rich diversity of dancing which had 360 types in practice in the recent past.

The dancing art of Kalash, the primitive people having unique ways of living in Southern Chitral, however, is in robust form due to the fact that dancing was the not only the part and parcel of their culture but formed their basic religious ritual.

The former project manager of IUCN project in Chitral, Dr. Inayatullah Faizi said that the people of Chitral can be divided into two with respect to their culture and traditions which included Khow and Kalash and there was a great diversity in Khow culure as they lived in 33 different valleys.

He said that in the present time, the Khow people have consigned to oblivion a large chunk of their immaterial culture in the form of dancing as they have almost forgotten as many 288 types of dance out of 360.

“In the present age, a younger person can hardly name any four or five types of Chitrali dance while he will not be able to give their description”, he said adding that the declination of the dancing culture was going unnoticed and it may completely annihilate in the coming two decades or so.

He said that Chitral Scouts had salvaged a part of Chitrali music and dancing by the inclusion of a band of musician in the force and it was in 1982 when the then commandant of the force, colonel Murad Khan Nayyar discovered an ageing person from a distant valley of Chitral named Woor Muhammad, who was called to the garrison of Drosh to teach the art of khongora phonik (dancing with swords) to its jawans.

He said that a few number of other famous types of dancing were preserved by the National Institute of Folk Heritage in late 1970s as its team visited the far-flung areas of the district to record thedances being performed by the elder people.

The president of Anjuman Taraqqi Khowar Chitral, Shahzada Tanvirul Mulk was of the view that presently, Shishtuwar, Nohtik, phastok, barwazi, Shabdaraz and tatari wawari were some of the types which were still population among the younger generation.

He said that there are a number of valleys in Chitral including Lotkoh, Laspur, Yarkhoon and Biyar where dancing culture is still in rich form but the traits of old culture are being replaced by that of alien ones.

Kalash may be the only religion in the world in which dancing is one of the obligations of its followers and a child of five years starts to learn different feats of dance as part of his or her faith and it is abundantly interesting to note that the Kalash people dance for three days and nights around the dead body before its burial.

Luke Rahmat, an educated youth from Bumburate valley, said that dancing culture of Kalash has no perils to threaten it as they danced as part of their religion and it formed a major component of all their festivals.

He said that in any festival of Kalash, one will find a lad or lass of 7 years and an old man of about 90 years dancing in the same group and it is here the traits are transposed to the new generation from the old.

Regarding the types of Kalash dances, he said that they were few in number and associated with certain festivals and occasions and each type were essentially different from the other and all they were exhibited on the occasion of chilim jusht which was their major festival held in the spring season.



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