The real identity of kalash in Chitral

The real identity of kalash in Chitral

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Exploring Kalash: neither the whole Chitral is Kalash nor is Kalash the whole Chitral

It is very common for every Chitrali, who travels outside Chitral, to encounter with Kalash one way or the other. Be it in Peshawar, Lahore, or Karachi, when someone figures out that you are Chitrali, they immediately ask: “Kalash?”.

If someone has no idea about Chitral, you figure out that he/she has some idea about Kalash. So much so, for most of the Pakistanis, the whole Chitral is Kalash, or Kalasha is the whole Chitral. This article is to clear this misconception, or largely lack of information, and to provide a set of some basic information about Kalasha.

These people are a minority who inhabit a tiny region in Chitral. The fundamental reason for these people being so popular is their uniqueness. As Coco Chanel famously puts: “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different,” so are Kalash.

Read more: Tourism in Chitral, the beauty of Pakistan

They are simply different from others. They are different in religious views, worldviews, cultural orientations, social activities, norms, and traditions. Religiously, they’re not monoliths_ they do not believe in One God. They rather have polytheistic and animistic religious beliefs. Research studies (Biddulph 1880; Schomberg 1938) suggest that Kalash shared this belief with the people of North-east Afghanistan till the 19th century. This whole area was then called Kafiristan_ the land of nonbelievers.

But they do not only worship multiple gods in mountains or temples, they also have somewhat weird rituals. If, for instance, someone dies the whole community gather around the funeral, sacrifice a sheer number of goats (at the funeral of Laktion Bibi’s father, the first female Kalash pilot, some 40 goats were slaughtered), sing a local song, and dance around the funeral for 4-5 days. Also, they distribute local wine_ for which they are known all over Pakistan and abroad_ bread, walnuts, and other local dishes. So, the death of a Kalash seems a festival alike incident for an outsider.

Kalash is, by nature, festive and jubilant. They are prone to dancing. If a local Chitrali is being called ‘Kalash’ by his relatives or brethren, they mean he is a keen dancer. Another way of putting can be the Chitrali term “Kalash Phoneni” (A dancing place for a Kalash.)

Read more: IMPORTANCE OF MUSIC IN KALASHA CULTURE

This term is sarcastically used for a very big room which is not for normal usage but for dance purposes, specially designed for a Kalash dancer. You can infer their festivity that they have some six major festivals, apart from the conventional funeral dances. Chilim Josh in summer, Uchau in autumn, Caumus in midwinter, and Pul are some renowned festivals among Kalasha.

It would be very lengthy and detailed to explain every festival in this article (We have a separate article on these festivals.) However, what is common in all these festivals is a sheer amount of local wine, numberless slaughtered goats, Kalasha couples dancing for local songs, generous distribution of milk, bread, and walnuts.

Next time you think about the outing, Kalasha is the best option to be around. You will be mesmerized by every single step you take there. The hospitality of the locals, the lush green villages surrounded by towering mountains, unique incidents, countless traditional foods, and locally handmade wine will be your companion.

 

 
 

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