Kalash cuisine The culture of the Kalash people is unique and differs in many ways from the many contemporary Islamic ethnic groups surrounding them in northwestern part of Pakistan. 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 Bumburet forming one, and Birir valley the other; Birir valley being the more traditional of the two. Kalash language The language of the Kalash is a sub-branch of the Indo-Aryan group, itself part of the larger Indo-European family also known as the Dardic group. It is classified as a member of the Chitral sub-group, the only other member of that group being Khowar.
Norwegian Linguist Georg Morgenstierne believes that in spite of similarities, Kalasha is an independent language in its own right. Although quite numerous before the 20th century, the non-Muslim minority has seen its numbers dwindle over the past century. A leader of the Kalash, Saifulla Jan, has stated, "If any Kalash converts to Islam, they cannot live among us anymore.
We keep our identity strong. By now, sheikhs, or converts to Islam, make up more than half of the total Kalasha-speaking population. For this reason, they are known in Chitral as " The Black Kafirs ". However, menstruating girls and women are sent to live in the "bashaleni", the village menstrual building, during their periods, until they regain their "purity". They are also required to give birth in the bashaleni.
There is also a ritual restoring "purity" to a woman after childbirth which must be performed before a woman can return to her husband. Girls are initiated into womanhood at an early age of four or five and married at fourteen or fifteen. This is because the new husband must pay double if he wants her. For example, if the current husband paid one cow for her, then the new husband must pay two cows to the original husband if he wants her.
Wife-elopement may lead in some rare cases to a quasi-feud between clans until peace is negotiated by mediators, in the form of the double bride-price paid by the new husband to the ex-husband.
Chilam Joshi festival celebrations. Joshi is celebrated at the end of May each year. The first day of Joshi is "Milk Day", on which the Kalash offer libations of milk that have been saved for ten days prior to the festival.
It marks the end of the year's fieldwork and harvest. It involves much music, dancing, and the sacrifice of many goats. Food sacrifices are offered at the clans' Jeshtak shrines, dedicated to the ancestors.
At Chaumos, impure and uninitiated persons are not admitted; they must be purified by a waving a fire brand over women and children and by a special fire ritual for men, involving a shaman waving juniper brands over the men. Indrunkot is sometimes believed to belong to Balumain's brother, In dr , lord of cattle. The men must be divided into two parties: This is accompanied by a 'sex change': In this festival, a strong prepubescent boy is sent up into the mountains to live with the goats for the summer.
He is supposed to get fat and strong from the goat milk. When the festival comes he is allowed for a hour period only to have sexual intercourse with any woman he wants, including even the wife of another man, or a young virgin. Any child born of this hour period is considered to be blessed.
The Kalash claim to have abolished this practice in recent years due to negative worldwide publicity. At this crucial moment the pure get weaker, and the impure try to take hold of the very pure boys, pretend to mount them "like a hornless ram", and proceed in snake procession. At this point, the impure men resist and fight.
He gives his blessings to seven boys representing the mythical seven of the eight Devalog who received him on arrival , and these pass the blessings on to all pure men. If this had not happened, Balumain would have taught humans how to have sex as a sacred act.
Instead, he could only teach them fertility songs used at the Chaumos ritual. He arrives from the west, the Kati Kafir Bashgal valley, in early December, before solstice, and leaves the day after. He was at first shunned by some people, who were annihilated. He was however, received by seven Devalog and they all went to several villages, such as Batrik village, where seven pure, young boys received him whom he took with him.
Therefore, nowadays, one only sends men and older boys to receive him. Balumain is the typical culture hero. He told people about the sacred fire made from junipers, about the sowing ceremony for wheat that involved the blood of a small goat, and he asked for wheat tribute hushak for his horse. Finally, Balumain taught how to celebrate the winter festival.
He was visible only during his first visit, now he is just felt to be present. Religion[ edit ] A Kalash woman in traditional costume. Kalash people are divided equally between the adherents of Islam, [b]  and those that practice the traditional Kalash religion, which some observers label as animism ,     but scholars regard as a derivative of the ancient Indo-Aryan religion described as "a form of ancient Hinduism ".
University of Rochester social anthropologist and professor Barbara A. West, with respect to the Kalash states in the text Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania that their "religion is a form of Hinduism that recognizes many gods and spirits" and that "given their Indo-Aryan language The prominent and noted linguist Richard Strand , who is the sole modern authority on Hindukush languages spent three decades in the Hindukush.
He noted the following about the pre-Islamic Nuristani religion: There are a number of other deities, semi-gods and spirits.
The Kalash pantheon is thus one of the last living representatives of Indo-European religion. More importantly, there is an Indra -like figure, often actually called Indr N. As in the Veda , the rainbow is called after him.
Balumain is a culture hero who taught how to celebrate the Kalash winter festival Chaumos. He is connected with Tsyam, the mythological homeland of the Kalash. She is also responsible for the Bashaleni lodge. They live in the high mountains, such as Tirich Mir, but in late autumn they descend to the mountain meadows.
Importantly, the division between two groups of deities Devalog and their intermarriage Imra's mother is a 'giant' has been preserved, and this dichotomy is still re-enacted in rituals and festivals, especially the Chaumos. Ritual still is of IIr. Some features already have their Vedic, and no longer their Central Asian form e. Their belief in one supreme God is one example of Muslim influence. They also use some Arab and Persian words for their god.
Drumming is a male occupation among the Kalash people. These deities have shrines and altars throughout the valleys, where they frequently receive goat sacrifices. This institution has since disappeared but there still is the prominent one of shamans dehar  The deities are temporary visitors. Mahandeo shrines are a wooden board with 4 carved horse heads the horse being sacred to Kalash extending out, in still with the effigy of a human head inside holes at the base of these shrines while the altars of Sajigor are of stone and are under old juniper, oak and cedar trees.
Horses, cows, goats and sheep were sacrificed. Wine is a sacred drink of Indr, who owns a vineyard- Indruakun in the Kafiristani wama valley contained both sacred vineyard and shrine Idol and altar below a great juniper tree along with 4 large vates carved out of rocks - that he defends against invaders.
As in the Veda, the former local artisan class was excluded from public religious functions. Purity is very much stressed and centered around altars, goat stables, the space between the hearth and the back wall of houses and in festival periods; the higher up in the valley, the more pure the location. The dead are buried above ground in ornamented wooden coffins.
Wooden effigies are erected at the graves of wealthy or honoured people. Location, climate and geography[ edit ] Located in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa , Pakistan the Kalash people live in three isolated mountain valleys: Mumuret , Rumbur Rukmu , and Birir Biriu.
A pass connects the Birir and Bumburet valleys at about m. The Kalash villages in all three valleys are located at a height of approximately to m. The region is extremely fertile, covering the mountainside in rich oak forests and allowing for intensive agriculture, despite the fact that most of the work is done not by machinery, but by hand.
The powerful and dangerous rivers that flow through the valleys have been harnessed to power grinding mills and to water the farm fields through the use of ingenious irrigation channels. Wheat , maize , grapes generally used for wine , apples , apricots and walnuts are among the many foodstuffs grown in the area, along with surplus fodder used for feeding the livestock.
Genetic origins[ edit ] Rosenberg et al. For 7 or more clusters, a cluster yellow appears which is nearly unique to the Kalash. Smaller amounts of Kalash gene frequencies join clusters associated with Europe and Middle East blue and with South Asia red. The study asserted that no East or South Asian lineages were detected and that the Kalash population is composed of western Eurasian lineages as the associated lineages are rare or absent in the surrounding populations.
The authors concluded that a western Eurasian origin for the Kalash is likely, in view of their maternal lineages. The study also showed the Kalash to be a separated group, having no membership within European populations.
In that case, a simplistic model using two parental populations would show a bias towards overestimating admixture". Tourism now makes up a large portion of the economic activities of the Kalash. To cater to these new visitors, small stores and guest houses have been erected, providing new luxury for visitors of the valleys. History and social status[ edit ] The Kalash are considered to be indigenous people , with their ancestors migrating to Chitral from Central Asia in the 2nd century BC.
They have enjoyed a cordial relationship with the major ethnic group of Chitral, the Kho who are Sunni and Ismaili Muslims. The multi-ethnic and multi-religious State of Chitral ensured that the Kalash were able to live in peace and harmony and practice their culture and religion. The Nuristani , their neighbours in the region of former Kafiristan west of the border, were converted, on pain of death, to Islam by Amir Abdur-Rahman of Afghanistan in the s and their land was renamed Nuristan [ citation needed ].
Prior to that event, the people of Kafiristan had paid tribute to the Mehtar of Chitral and accepted his suzerainty. This came to an end with the Durand Agreement when Kafiristan fell under the Afghan sphere of Influence. Recently, the Kalash have been able to stop their demographic and cultural spiral towards extinction and have, for the past 30 years, been on the rebound.