The Kalashe celebrating their harvest festival Uchau in their remote mountain valleys.
The inhabitants of the Kalash valley celebrate a number of festivals all year round. (Uchau) This festival takes place in mid August at the altar of Mahandeo where newly made cheese is brought from the pastures. Dancing and singing again forms an integral part of the festival.. Kalash people organize Uchal. the harvest celebration to pay homage to the almighty that blessed them with fruits and other crops. the prepare cheese, buttermilk and corn to celebrate this festival. during the festival prayers, a procession is made to a high plateau outside the village a Balangkuru where the long night of dancing begins. the festivals continue for many days moving on to different locations within the valleys.
They form the smallest minority community in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Kalashas live in three valleys of Chitral namely, Rumbur, Brumbret and Birir. The Rumbur and Brumbret form a single culture due to their very similar cultural practices, while Birir being the most traditional one forms a separate culture. The people of Kalash or white skinned with golden brown hair and blue eyes. The language of the Kalash is the Kalasha and is a Dardic language. The Kalasha language has no proper script; however, there have been recent developments in introducing a formal script for the language. The people of Kalash are extremely particular about their religion and break ties with anyone of them who converts to Islam. The converts are not allowed after the conversion to be a part of their community. They keep their identity strong. The women of Kalash wear long black loose robes with colorful embroideries and cowrie shells. These women are also found wearing colorful beads and necklaces that further distinguish them from the other women of the Chitral region.
The people of Kalash have a rich culture and are very strong footed about their identity. These people stand out from the remaining tribes, cultures and communities of Pakistan due to their distinct culture, religious practices and festivals. The area known as Kalash Valley boosts serene beauty, lush green valleys and fruit farms making it an ideal tourist spot not only in terms of scenic beauty but also cultural diversity and religious spots. Despite all the pros the fact of the matter remains that nothing is being done to develop the area and to invest in its tourism industry. The Kalash valley faces discrimination on a number of fronts be it economic development or recognition as a separate religious entity. The area lacks proper infrastructure which cuts it off with the rest of the world and has resulted in the backwardness of the region.
The Kalashas are polytheistic believing in 12 Gods and Goddesses. A renowned linguist Richard strand, is of the view that the people of Kalash practice an ancient form of Hinduism which gradually developed locally and got influenced by the neighboring areas of pre Islamic Nuristan. They believe in a number of Gods e.g. Yama Raja also called Dezau and Khodai who is the creator deity. Another god is the Balumain who is the cultural hero and taught the people of Kalash how to celebrate the winter festival. Other gods include Destak, Munjem, Dezalik.