- Posted August 26, 2013 by
The forgotten Kalash - Pakistan.
Kalash are Dardic indigenous people residing in the Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. They speak the Kalasha language, from the Dardic family of the Indo-Aryan branch, and are considered a unique tribe among the Indo-Aryan people of Pakistan.
The neighboring Nuristani people of the adjacent Nuristan (historically known as Kafiristan) province of Afghanistan once practiced the same polytheistic religion as the Kalash. By the late 19th century much of Nuristan had been converted to Islam, though evidence has shown the people continued to secretly practice their religion. The Kalash of Chitral to some extent have maintained their own separate cultural traditions till date. But one only can wonder for how long? As the wave of Islamic fundamentalism (which has taken over most of Pakistan) will or pehaps have reached this innocent land too and sooner or later will show the wrath.
The culture of Kalash people is unique and differs completely from the various ethnic groups surrounding them. They are polytheists and nature plays a highly significant and spiritual role in their daily life. As part of their religious tradition, sacrifices are offered and festivals held to give thanks for the abundant resources of their three valleys. Kalasha Desh (the three Kalash valleys) is made up of two distinct cultural areas, the valleys of Rumbur and Brumbret forming one and Birir valley the other, Birir valley being the more traditional of the two. Kalash mythology and folklore has been compared to that of ancient Greece, but they are much closer to Indo-Iranian (Vedic and pre-Zoroastrian) traditions. This can be explained as Hellenic, Vedic traditions. Some of the Kalash people claim to be descendants of Alexander the Great's soldiers, however, extensive genetic testing has shown no connection. The Kalash have fascinated anthropologists due to their unique culture compared to the rest in that region, similar to ancient Persians. It is also widely thought by some researchers that part of this tribe is of areas from Syria expelled by the Persian Empire and sent to Greco Afghan areas, which slowly became Kalash whereas their old name was Kasovah.
There are many other tribes settled in those mountains that somehow still do manage to maintain their traditions. The present day hostile situation in Pakistan is not hidden from the world. And how these minorities suffer would might never be fully know as it is really a tough task at times to reach them without government help and the authorities specially in the third world make sure that independent research and reporting is discouraged.
As United Nations is celebrating DECADE of Indigenous People from 2004 till 2014, so it is an appeal to all that we must support Help Preserve Kalash a tribe in Pakistan for UN Protected site. Following is a support link: http://www.change.org/petitions/secretary-general-of-united-nations-help-preserve-kalash-a-tribe-in-pakistan-for-united-nations-protected-site#invite. (Written by Akbar Warris – Photo MBugi Bugi Bugiandassociates)