Religion of Kalash Valley

The Kalash’s religion is considered to be closer to Vedic and Pre-Zoroastrian cultures, even though it has a valuable existence that retains the old form of the Indo-Aryan religion. There is a God of Creator “Dezau” and many gods. There are gods closely related to life and nature, such as “Balumain”, “Sajigor” and “Mahan Deva” which appear at the Chaumos Festival and the goddess “Jestak” who protects the house. The place of prayer is called Dewa, and in each village has small altar at temple of Jestak han and the outskirts of the village.

 

Temple of Jestak han

Jestak is a goddess who controls the family, housework, marriage and each clan has a temple, not every village.There is a sheep motif at the entrance, Laternendeke ceiling which is typical in Pamir architecture decorations. There is a wood carving on the back of the temple that shows “Balumain” and there is mural painting from the Chaumos Festival.


There are two clans living in Karakal village in Bomboret Valley, and Jastak han has two entrances for each clan in one building.
The picture is Jastak han of Anish village. Designs and decorations inspired by goats and sheep. Laternendeke ceilings of typical architectural styles specific to mountains of Pakistan, Tajikistan and the Wakhan Corridor area.

 

The Gandao – Wooden statue

A wooden image created to admire the memories of dead person, contributions, and achievements. The production and rituals of this Gandao are very expensive and require a lot of goats, cheese and ghee. Thus, it can only be created by the rich men who are influential. In Bomboret Valley, two sons made two Gandao for their father and uncle, who died more than 10 years ago in Brun village in 2008. (It can still be seen in the Brun village cemetery).
The Gandao is at the center of the ceremonial place. People dance around it and after the ritual is completed, the Gandao is transported to the graveyard.

 

Cemetery Mandawjaw

The original burial of Kalash was to only put body in a wooden coffin and place in a cemetery. But about 50 years ago, they started practicing burial like Muslims. At present, things that seem to be whitening are old things about 50 years ago. In the past, it was said that if not covering the coffin, it was easy for the soul to free and naturally weatherable.

 

“Pure” and “Impure” concept

The Kalasha has the strong concept for “Pure” and “Impure” in their life. Therefore, there are many rituals to purify the things that they believe are impure.
The representative one is Bashari. It is a hut where women during menstruation gather and live together. Delivery is also carried out here, and after the delivery it is possible to return to the house where the husband is eagerly waiting after the purification ceremony. There is one in each village, and women in Bashari who are under menstruation should not touch others. For example, to pass the things to other person, She can throw it but cannot hand it over.

In short, it’s not easy to understand just by talking. You must visit here and see it for yourself !

Photo : Mariko SAWADA Text :Mariko & Sarosh
※  The photo was taken during the visit between 2006 and 2014.

Category : # Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
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Kalash Valley “Where did the Kalash people come from?”

Pakistan is a multiethnic country. The Kalash people are the unique existence among the various ethnic groups in Pakistan. Living inside “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan”, the Kalash people believe in their own god not Islam and they live only in Pakistan.

In the 1970s, they were forced to convert to Islam, and the fate of Kalash ethnic group was threatened. Thereafter, the government started the subsequent protection of the Kalash people. Thus, the population of the Kalasha had grown significantly over the past 20 years or so.
Now they have a strong identity as a Kalasha Ethnic group, so the conversion rate to Islam became low. Also a Kalasha mother tends to have 7-8 children to increase population of the people of Kalash.
The population of Kalash is approximately 3,000 according to the old guide books and brochures. However, if you visit the local 3 villages (Bumburet, Rumbur, Birir), you will be told that there are more than 4,000 altogether.

“Where did they come from?”

There are three theories regarding this. One theory is that they are the descendants of the army of Alexander the great, from the 4th Century BC, due to their white skin and blue eyes. There is no proof that the army of Alexander the Great passed through this area, but there are many tourists from Greece and NGOs are also active in this valley.
The other is that they moved to Afghanistan from South Asian land called “Tsiyam” that appears in Kalash’s legends and epics.
And the other is a general theory that their ancestors moved from Afghanistan around 2nd century BC to a region centered on the present Chitral and in the 10th century the power spread around the region including Chitral. Between 12-14th century, it became a powerful kingdom. However, it is said that the conversion to Islam in the neighborhood then went on and only left in the current three valleys.

The Kalash people live in three village of Bumburet, Rumbur and Birir located along the border area with Afghanistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The group speaks Dardic-based Kalasha language, belonged to Indo-European language. Once there was “Kafiristan” where the same Kalash people lived on the Afghan side across the border. However, the conversion to Islam was thoroughly done in 1896, and the place was renamed to “Nuristan [a country of light, a country of light of Islam]”, Now, the only Kalash people left in the world are situated in Pakistan.

Kalash people … Legends full of mystery, beautiful and charming blue eyes on white skin, exotic costumes of beautiful women…. You will surely be captivated.

Photo : Mariko SAWADA  Text : Mariko & Sarosh
※ The photo was taken during the visit between 2006 and 2014.

Category : # Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
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K1- Masherbrum from Hushe valley

The glorious K1 Masherbrum (7,821 m) seen from the Hushe valley. You can clearly see it from near the Hushe village, but we went towards the camp of Brumbruma a little further.

In June, a lush green beautiful village of Hushe. It is a village that is an another gateway to the Karakoram.

A camp of Brumbruma, 4,500 m above sea level. No doubt, it was a snowy year.

“The Snow Leopard’s trap”, I saw on the way to Brumbruma from the Hushe village. Unquestionably, Snow Leopards must be protected at any cost… This seems to be an old one, and there are a lot of Snow Leopard sightings in the Hushe valley. Villagers here proudly say, “Come in the winter, We will show you the Snow Leopard.”

Majestic figure of Masherbrum.

A series of beautiful and sublime ice walls.

From the camp of Brumbruma, Masherbrum in the golden colors of sunset.

 

Photo : Mariko SAWADA    Text : Mariko & Sarosh
Visit : Jun 2010, Brumbruma Camp, Hushe Valley, Gilgit -Baltistan

Category : # Gilgit-Baltistan > - Hushe Valley > - K1 Masherbrum
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Gondogoro-la from Hushe side, K2 appeared from the clouds

It is a record of a long time ago. In June, when there was a lot of snow, I climbed the Gondogoro La from the Hushe side.
The climbing on the Hushe side was long and challenging. Nevertheless, I continued to climb in the midst of the falling snow, and I was assuring myself not to expect the view of the mighty K2, “I may not see the scenery even if I go up”.
Indeed, it was enveloped in the clouds when we reached. I wanted to wait for a while but we couldn’t relax too much because we were worried about the risk of avalanche on our way back.

Suddenly, a miracle happened. The clouds ahead of the staff who went to Ali camp direction broke and K2 emerged from within.

View of K2 from Gondogoro La.

It was for a really short time, and a scene that I felt resembled “Space”.
The camera settings were also crazy during the climbing and the colors were a little funny. Nonetheless, every minute was rewarding.

Ali Camp side from Gondogoro La.

The way down to Hushe side, Khuspan Camp.

Finally, I went downhill at once to reach to our camp. At the camp, cook prepared some succulent “Tempura” for me…  it was quite heavy after the climbing!

Photo : Mariko SAWADA    Text : Mariko & Sarosh
Visit : Jun 2010, Gondogoro-la, Hushe Valley, Gilgit -Baltistan

Category : # Gilgit-Baltistan > - Hushe Valley > - K2
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Snow Leopard observed in Morkhun Village -2

To begin with, when we were informed that the Snow Leopard hunted Ibex in the Morkhun village and sat on the other side of the river, we were near Gilgit. Thus, we changed the direction and headed towards Morkhun Village.

We had to drive slowly because it was dangerous and slippery on snowy roads, due to which, the chances of seeing the snow leopard decreased. It was a risky decision, as the snow leopard may not be there once we reach.
However, against all odds, we headed to the Morkhun village with a complex mind.

This is the Snow Leopard I saw when I just arrived. It was on the other side of the river and the distance was short. At first, I could not find it as it was camouflaged. But then I were able to see it, once it moved its tail.

It was already past 15 o’clock, and I was worried that the snow leopard would move before it became dark.

According to the villagers who have been observing it since morning, the Snow Leopard was hunting Ibex, eating it, hiding the rest of meat in the bush, entering the river, climbing up the rock, then it was sitting there for a while, and at last, went to sleep…till now. Villagers were showing us video clips of Snow Leopard they took through their mobile phone, while we were waiting for the movement of Snow Leopard.

The snow leopard has begun to move!
Villager screams in Wakhi saying, “Shou-bashi!”, meaning “Very good “/”Well Done”.
At this time, about 30 people from the village of Morkhun and the surrounding villages were witnessing the snow leopard.

Snow Leopard has jumped out. The villagers are delighted to say, “Shau-bashi! Shau-Bashi!”

Wild Snow Leopard is in front of us! I was really waiting for this perfect moment for a long time in Pakistan.

The villagers expected that Snow Leopard might go to the Ibex it hunted, but the Snow Leopard sat down again.

It was already dark, consequently limited chance to photograph the snow leopard. I followed the last figure of the snow leopard until I could not see it and left the place finally.

This is the place where we were observing in Morkhun village (drone shot)

Lastly, thanks a lot to the local people of Morkhun village.

Photo: Mariko Text: Mariko & Sarosh
Observation: Jan 2019, Morkhun Village, Gojal, Gilgit-Baltistan
Special Thanks to Mr. Sultan Gohar (Khunjerab National Park), Mr. Yousaf Akhtar for Drone shooting.

Category : # Gilgit-Baltistan > ** Wildlife of Pakistan > - Morkhun > - Snow Leopard
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