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The Kalash People Picture Source By Google Image

For centuries, the Kalash People lived in a remote mountainous region which now spreads contiguously across Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, Kalash people who lived in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan carried on the legacy. The natural beauty of this region, almost isolated from the earth.

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The people, known as Kalash. They are said to have descended from soldiers of the army of Alexander the Great who traveled this way in 324 BCE. The animist Kalash is outwardly different from the darker-skinned Pakistani Muslims who live in the lowlands below them. Today, they form the smallest of Pakistan’s minority ethnic groups (numbering between 3,000 to 4,000 people) and can be found in three valleys: Bumburet, Rumbur, and Birir. The Kalash language is said to be part of the Dardic group of Indo-Aryan languages.

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Who Is This Kalash people

They say their ancestors came from Greece. There is a lot of evidence of it in history. According to historians, Alexander the Great conquered the mountains of northern Pakistan 2,000 years ago, where the Kalash now live. The people of Kalash have also been living here for almost two thousand years. There is no resemblance between Arabic or Urdu, the language spoken by the people of the Kalash tribe, which belongs to the Indo-Iranian language. According to Kalash people said that Alexander came to India even before Islam. When he returned to Greece after winning the war, some of his comrades remained. They like the natural beauty of Hindu Kush. Married local women. The infidel Kalash of Hindu Kush are their descendants.

The New York Times found that the Kalash people’s DNA seems to indicate that they had an infusion of European blood during a “mixing event” at roughly the time of Alexander’s conquests. These isolated people are thus most likely the direct descendants of the ancient Greek-Macedonian armies who set up outposts in this region 2,300 years ago.

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They Follow Ancient Culture

The Kalash people kept their pagan rituals and worshipped their ancient gods in outdoor temples, despite the fact that most Pakistanis converted to Islam throughout the decades. Most importantly, they produced wine much like the Greeks of antiquity did. This is a Muslim country that forbade alcohol.

They cultivate on the slopes of the hills for their livelihood. They have a life full of dance, song, entertainment. Earlier, the people followed a simple life, mostly dependent on agriculture and cattle rearing. Buckwheat and other crops were grown in the river valleys. The food prepared in wood-fired ovens. They followed a nature-oriented faith. which later some researchers equated with the animistic form of worship while others found similarities with ancient Hindu concepts.

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Customs

The customs of the Kalashas are very strange. One of them that has been much discussed is the custom of sending menstruating as well as pregnant women to the ‘Bashaleni’, a dorm-style building far from the main village. It is frequently referred to as a type of oppression by modern cultural interpreters. But according to Kalash people, it is the women who handle the bulk of everyday work; the time out.

The Kalash follow various social customs and rituals. When a boy goes from adolescence to youth, the boy, sent to the high mountains with sheep for the whole summer. When he survives and comes back to the village, Badulak festival is happing. In this festival, he will stay for one day, with any married, unmarried, and virgin girl in the village. For this, if anyone is pregnant, everyone in the village will consider it a blessing.

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Festival

Barbara West, a professor of anthropology at the University of Rochester. He says in the Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania that “Kalash religion is a form of Hinduism that recognizes many gods and spirits” and that “given their Indo-Aryan language … the religion of The Kalasha is much more closely aligned the Hinduism of their Indian neighbors.

There are three main religious festivals of Kalash. In May, ‘Chilam Joshi’ is ‘Uchau’ in autumn and in mid-winter, the best festival is ‘Kaumus’. In this festival, they create human chains around the whole village. The priest of the temple spread the leaves of the juniper tree on the devotees like leather. At the end of the day, everyone dances and eats in a place called ‘Charso’ in the middle of the village.

The Kalas believe that at this time their most revered deity is ‘Baloman’ or they go around the valley and listen to everyone’s prayers. So big fires and torches are lit in the mountains to pay homage to the deity. Then they play the flute around the fire, play drums made of pinewood, clap their hands, and dance in circles.

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Modern Lifestyle

Numerous Kalash men and women in Nuristan, Afghanistan, have been forced to convert by the Taliban. But the Pakistani Kalash people are still fighting to preserve the tradition they have held for thousands of years. They are trying to hold on to their ancient culture. The traditions continue even today but have been much influenced by the incursions of modern lifestyle as motorable roads (rough and dusty) have made the remote villages accessible. Shops have opened in the valleys which provide meat and other food items, consumer products, etc. Electrification has made televisions, mobile phones and computers accessible. 

Even though the Kalash people and their culture, changing slowly over time. The elderly keepers are worried that the advent of modern lifestyle and the younger generation’s proximity to the Islamic lifestyle. A leader of the Kalash, Saifullah Jan, has stated, “If any Kalash converts to Islam, they cannot live among us anymore. We keep our identity strong.” About three thousand have converted to Islam or are descendants of converts, yet still, live nearby in the Kalash villages and maintain their language and many aspects of their ancient culture. 

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Tourism Kalash Valley

Tourism has also made inroads into the Kalash villages. Unless hindered by political situations, tourists arrive in spring and summer to see the rugged breathtaking beauty of the region and the unique lifestyle of the Kalash people. The villagers too look upon tourism as a way of earning and have set up homestays and hotels, and shops selling local handicrafts. One of the best occasions to visit the Kalash villages is during their colorful festivals.

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