Pakistan

Unique Culture and History of Kalash People

Kalash People

Kalash has the most separated and unique culture in Pakistan. It resides in the Chitral district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Their language is Kalasha from the Dardic family of the Indo-Aryan branch. As it is the most different culture so their people are considered as the most unique people of the country. Kalash, also called Waigali or wai is the country’s smallest ethnoreligious group that practices no religion but a form of animism, or in some books, it is written that they follow ancient Hinduism.

Whereas, it also considered that Kalash people are the natives of Pakitan and that their ancestors migrated to Chitral valley from some other location. This migration is called “tsiyam” by Kalash people that they use in their epic and folk songs.

Several Kalash people are considered to the refugees by some of the Kalash traditions. Also, they are considered to be foreigners or descendants like Indians of eastern Afghanistan or the people of Gandhari people. It is still not cleared from where do they belong and what is their actual history because the Nuristan people of the Nuristan province of Afghanistan had the same culture once and they used to practice the same faith that Kalash people do but many other distinctions are found between the two.

The only historical record found was the history of the Islamic invasion of their lands by the Ghaznavids in the 11the Century whereas they were arrested in 1339 during Timur’s invasions. Basically, Nuristan was converted into Islam in 1895-1896 but some of the evidence shows that they continued to practice their costumes. In this way, Kalash people of Chitral continued their separate cultural traditions.

People of Kalash are unique in their own ways and so their culture. Their culture differs in several ways. These people are polytheists. Moreover, they play a significant and spiritual role. Their religious tradition demands sacrifices and they celebrate different festivals to give special thanks to their three valleys. Their valleys are made up of two cultural areas; one, Rambur and Bumburet, second; Birir valley. Birir valley has the most traditional form of all.

They have a completely different language than others. Their language is known is Kalasha-mun. It is a member of the Dardic group of the Indo-Aryan languages. This language is spoken over a large area in south Chitral. 

However, sometimes they are called Muslims, sometimes Hindus or sometimes Afghans and it forms many controversies regarding them. Once their leader said that if someone among them tries to convert into Muslims, he\she will not be able to live among us anymore because we have our own identity. Yet, many Kalash people around 3,000 people have converted to Islam and they live in the nearby villages of Chitral.

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