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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