The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.
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The Shalamar Festival; a popular festival lasting for 40 days in Kandahar

Amir Jan, a resident of Herat who is visiting Kandahar to attend the Shalamar festival, says he could not attend the festival in the past due to insecurities. He said proper security measures have been taken this year for the festival; therefore, he attended and took part in a wrestling competition.

The Shalamar traditional festival, which is held in Kandahar’s Arghandab district every year, is believed to have begun at the time of Ahmad Shah Baba. Due to severe drought in the past few years, the festival has lost its popularity and the number of people attending the festival has considerably decreased. With recently increased rainfalls in various provinces, including Kandahar, the traditional festival of Shalamar has once again gained popularity among the community in the province as the fair is ongoing and attended by an increasing number of people. The fair lasts for up to 40 days in the province, with people from Kandahar and other parts making use of the riverside gardens to set up tents and enjoy fresh fruit such as mulberries that are abundant in the area. An area from Arghandab’s Durahi to Maranjan has been chosen for the traditional Shalamar festival by Ahmad Shah Baba. The participants of this traditional festival are mostly engaged in wrestling and other local games and entertainment. With the Islamic Emirate takeover and improvement of the overall security situation, local visitors from different provinces as Herat, Ghor, Farah, Badghis and other provinces have participated in the festival, also attended by people from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Hamidullah, a resident of Spin Boldak, told The Kabul Times that the fair has been held and attended by local people and elders for the past 100 years, adding that with recent continued rainfalls, the number of those participating in the traditional festival has considerably increased. “We and our elders have participated in this traditional festival for the past 100 and 200 years. The number of those attending the festival has even jumped to over 30,000,” Hamidullah said, adding that the people from Farah, Badghis and other provinces as well as people from beyond Afghanistan borders participated in the festival. Amir Jan, a resident of Herat who is visiting Kandahar to attend the Shalamar festival, says he could not attend the festival in the past due to insecurities. He said proper security measures have been taken this year for the festival; therefore, he attended and took part in a wrestling competition. “We came here to attend the Shalamar festival and there is also a wrestling competition between Herati and Kandahari youth,” Amir Jan said, adding that wrestling is considered as one of the country’s old and cultural games; therefore, most Herati people have come and attended the festival this year. A number of participants of the Shalamar fair say that although more people have participated in the festival this year compared to previous years, they add that few people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa participated in the festival due to visa and passport enforcement by the government of Pakistan between Chaman and Spin Boldak. According to Kandahar local officials, strict security measures have been taken for the better commemoration of the Shalamar traditional festival in the province. “No security incident has taken place since the start of the festival in Kandahar as necessary security measures have been taken by security forces in the province,” said Mullah Ziaulhaq, deputy police chief for Arghandab district. He added that all necessary measures had been taken and they were assuring all the people of the sure security, saying that thousands of people had come to attend the festival and there would be no problem even if thousands of more people came. The name of Shalamar or green garden is derived from the Indian Kashmiri dialect and did come after Ahmad Shah Baba captured Kashmir. The Shalamar festival became popular after the people of Achakzai and other remote areas asked Ahmad Shah Baba to build a fair place. He then built fair places in the Arghandab district of Kandahar. Ehsanullah Walasmal

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.