Chawmos

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Chawmos (cawmōs, ghona chawmos yat, Khowar "chitrimas" from *cāturmāsya, CDIAL 4742) is the most important Kalash festival, which is celebrated for two weeks at winter solstice (Dec. 7-22), at the beginning of the month chawmos mastruk in two weeks.

The Chamois festival is celebrated without using any musical instruments in the Rumbur and Bumborate villages, whereas residents of Birir village do use the musical instruments. Chamois festival is celebrated after the Kalash finish all their fieldwork and store all the sources of their basic needs. By this time of the year cheese, fruit and vegetables and grains are properly stored.

The 1st week of the Festival (7 to 14 Dec) is a private festival of Kalash people and they do not allow outsiders to view it, the Kalash girls select their bridegroom after some rituals. The entire population remains indoor. It is celebrated by feasting and merry making until the elders, who sit on a hill top, watching the sun reaching the orbit, declare the advent of the New Year. Children go up to the mountain, where they divide into boys and girls, and respectively make a big bonfire.

Then it comes 2nd week (15 to 22 Dec) in which they thank their God by dance and music. This part of festival is public and they celebrate it at different location one by one and tourist are allowed to view them. It marks the end of the year's fieldwork and harvest. It involves much music, dancing, and the sacrifice of many goats. It is dedicated to the god Balimain who is believed to visit from the mythical homeland of the Kalash, Tsyam (Tsiyam, tsíam), for the duration of the feast. Food sacrifices are offered at the clans' Jeshtak shrines, dedicated to the ancestors.

At Chaumos, impure and uninitiated persons are not admitted; they must be purified by a waving a fire brand over women and children and by a special fire ritual for men, involving a shaman waving juniper brands over the men. The 'old rules' of the gods (Devalog, dewalōk) are no longer in force, as is typical for year-end and carnival-like rituals. The main Chaumos ritual takes place at a Tok tree, a place called Indra's place, "indrunkot", or "indréyin". Indrunkot is sometimes believed to belong to Balumain's brother, In(dr), lord of cattle. Ancestors, impersonated by young boys (ōnjeṣṭa 'pure') are worshipped and offered bread; they hold on to each other and form a chain (cf. the Vedic anvārambhaṇa) and snake through the village.

The men must be divided into two parties: the pure ones have to sing the well-honored songs of the past, but the impure sing wild, passionate, and obscene songs, with an altogether different rhythm. This is accompanied by a 'sex change': men dress as women, women as men (Balumain also is partly seen as female and can change between both forms at will).

The festival is celebrated to welcome the arrival of the New Year. All the Kalash people remain indoors and outsiders are not allowed to enter their settlements for seven days. The people have a merry time by free wine drinking and they sacrifice goats. People show their thanks by dancing and singing together, enjoying every moment. During the festivals prayers, a procession is made to a high plateau outside the village in Balangkuru where the long night of dancing begins. The festivals continue for many more days moving on to different locations within the valleys. It is the most exciting among all the festivals. Girls dance in cold weather and snowfall and boys play various winter games in the festival. Tourists rarely visit the festival due to blockage of roads and heavy snowfall.

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