Summer festivals among the Kalash of North Pakistan : cascades of milk, leg wine and shepherd sire.
Yearly, at the autumn equinox, the Kalash of Chitral « take down the grape » and make wine. At the same period they celebrate rituals of fecundity which coincide with the return of the herders to the villages and the setting-loose, in the she-goats’pen, of rutting he-goats. These Kalash live in three narrow valleys in the heart of the Hindu-Kush, at the extreme North-West of Pakistan. By their Muslims neighbours, Chitrali and Pakistani, they are called « Kafirs », pagans. In reality, they are the last polytheists in this mountain fortress, where Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Indian sub-continent meet up. Previously, the « wine-road » linked the Hindu-Kush to the Karakorum, running from Nuristan up to Kashmir, Gilgit and the Hunza country.
Today, Islam has prohibited the making of wine as well as the rituals connected with it : it has put a curb on the symbolical sexual allusions and the gestures of the autumn festivals, all geared, in this region, to spring-time fertility and fecundity. Only the Kalash, especially those of the Birir valley, continue the ancient practices. At Birir, at the end of the moon « of nuts and grapes », the Kalash repeat the gestures taught by the great shamans of former days, for making good wine and respecting its purity. They follow faithfully these rules, concerning festivities necessary to the growth of society, which a man « in contact with the spirits of nature », laid down in times past after a sudden fall in the population : the obscene dances of the « powerful herder », the budalac, and the procession of little girls, charged with flowers and fruits, towards the open sanctuary of the god Praba, on the last day of the Prun festival.