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KALASHA - Pagan sect at Pakistan border lives amid conservative Muslims

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Author Topic: KALASHA - Pagan sect at Pakistan border lives amid conservative Muslims  (Read 5816 times)
Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2008, 09:37:45 am »

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« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2008, 09:39:08 am »

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« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2008, 09:44:04 am »









                                 The Kalash: The Lost Tribe of Alexander the Great





by Aithon

   When the great hero and general, Alexander, who was as great as the god Apollo and Zeus, left his troops here, he asked them to stay here in this land without changing their beliefs and traditions, their laws and culture until he returned from the battles in the East. This is a story that is told not in a village in Greece but on the the mountainsides of the great Hindu Kush. In this remote area of the northwestern region of Pakistan lives a peculiar tribe, the Kalash. The Kalash proclaim with pride that they are the direct descendents of Alexander the Great. There are many similarities between them and the Hellenes of Alexander the Great’s time. Similarities such as religion, culture, and language reinforce their claims to Hellenic ancestry.

   The Kalash are a polytheistic people, meaning that they believe in many gods. The gods that they believe in are the twelve gods of Ancient Greece which makes them the only people who continue this worship! Gods such as Zeus, the god of gods, Apollo, the god of the sun, and Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, are such gods that they pay homage to. Shrines which are found in every Kalash village remind us of the religious sanctuaries we would stumble across in Ancient Greece. They serve as houses of worship where prayers and sacrifices are offered. Oracles who played a major role in acting as mediators and spokespeople between the gods and the mortals still hold a position of importance in the social structure of the Kalash. Every question or prayer towards the gods is usually followed by a sacrifice of an animal. It is reminiscent of the sacrifices the Hellenes gave to the gods to assure them a victory over the city of Troy.

   Religions always possess certain traditions and rituals which are observed by their followers. The Kalash practice a ritual that is celebrated on August 6th. This feast day is named the Day of the Transfiguration. It is the day where the grapes are brought out to the god Dionysus to be blessed and to guarantee them of a plentiful crop. This ritual can be traced back to Ancient Greece where it was practiced by the cult of Dionysus who paid their respect to the god of fertility and wine. An active member of the cult of Dionysus was Olympia, mother of Alexander the Great, who is said to have recruited many of her son’s soldiers and who in return practiced it throughout their expedition (Alexandrou, pg. 184).

  The Kalash also live a lifestyle that can be positively compared to that of the Ancient Greeks. Let us start with the observation of their homes. The Kalash are the only people in the East who make and use accessories such as chairs and stools that cannot be found anywhere else in the surrounding regions! Their chairs are decorated with drawings such as the ram’s horns which symbolize the horns that decorated Alexander the Great’s helmet. Battle scenes depicting Greek soldiers are also observed. In the recent archaeological discoveries in Vergina, Greek archaeologists found the exact same replicas as the ones the Kalash use in their homes (National Herald, pg. 7).

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« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2008, 09:49:24 am »










As we know, Pakistan is a nation ruled by Islamic law. Under the law of the Koran alcohol consumption is prohibited. When we enter the region of the Kalash we encounter fields that are inhabited by grape vines. The Kalash are the only people who produce and consume wine and indulge themselves in feasts such as for the aforementioned feast of Dionysus. Greeks such as Socrates would participate in wine feasts such as we come across in the Symposium. Their feasts are always followed by songs and dances. The Kalash dance in a cyclical motion and the men usually follow it by loud cries of i-a and i-o which can be traced back to the battle cries let loose by Alexander’s soldiers. There is a saying held by the Pakistanis who state that only the Greeks and the Kalash whistle in such a way (Alexandrou, pg 87).

  In 1896 a British explorer by the name of George Robertson visited the Kalash and did a study on them. He concluded that fifty percent of the Kalash’s language derives from Ancient Greek. Such similarities can be found in their gods’ names. Zeus is called Zeo, Aphrodite is called Frodait, the name Dionysus has kept the same pronounciation. The Kalash have words such as demos meaning city-state and use the word ‘ela’ as an imperative command meaning come here. There was recently a tablet found in a village of the Kalash whose message was in the form of hieroglyphics. When the code was deciphered the message read, “Alexander the Great lives forever” (National Herald, pg.Cool.

   In this article we have observed similarities between people of the past, the ancient Greeks and people of the present, the Kalash. Through these similarities the Kalash have justified their claim as descendants of Alexander the Great. Ancient Greece and the tales of Alexander the Great were once believed to exist only in history books. However as the article insists, these great legacies live on with the Kalash of the mountainous Hindu Kush.




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

BIBLIOGRAPHY:


Alexandrou Dimitris N.,

"Kalash, The Greeks of the Himalayans",

Thessaloniki, Greece, 1997



http://www.creternity.com/article.phtml?articleID=7&page=1&catID=3
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« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2008, 09:55:02 am »

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« Reply #20 on: June 03, 2008, 09:56:27 am »











             Celebrating the Winter Solstice Festival with the Kalash tribe in the Hindu Kush mountains






Pakistan » North West Frontier Province » Chitral
 December 19th 2007
by Travelling Priestess



Old Kalasha lady



It's been a while since I last posted on this blog - this was due to being in the freezing Hindu Kush mountains, where internet access is sparse, if existent at all. We left for Chitral on 11th December, via propeller plane. Chitral is pretty cut off from the rest of Pakistan, as you can only get there by plane (which is frequently cancelled due to bad weather conditions) or over the Lowari Pass, which isn't really an option at this time of the year, due to snow. It's a lovely little town, and the people there are again completely different. After spending a couple of days in the Chitral Gol National Park, watching markhors (mountain goats) and looking for the elusive snow leopard, we left for the Kalash valleys, in the mountains by the Afghan border on the morning of the 15th.

The Kalasha are Pakistan's last Pagan tribe, and, numbering around 4000 people, live in the Rumbur, Bumboret and Birir valleys. They have a wonderful, interesting culture and live like hundreds of years ago, with no telephone, cars or modern amenities. They make their own bread and clothing, and live from agriculture. We were invited to celebrate part of the week-long Chamos festival with them: this solstice festival is the biggest for the Kalasha, and there is much singing, dancing, ritual, goat sacrifice and feasting going on. During this time, the God Balomain passes through the valley collecting prayers.

We arrived early in the morning and were met by Saifullah, the chief spokesperson of the Kalash, and his daugher Gulistan. As part of the festivities, we were asked to have a ritual wash, before putting on our Kalasha clothing for the duration of the festival. We saw some women washing by the river below the guest house, but as we were foreigners, Saifullah said that we could wash in the privacy of our rooms with a bucket of warm water. A bucket wash!? How disappointing! As the sun was shining (the narrow Rumbur valley gets about two hours of sunlight a day), I said to Saifullah that I'd prefer to wash with the Kalash women by the river. Ok, he said, and sent me off to the river with Gulistan, who clearly thought I was mad.
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« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2008, 10:03:59 am »






By the river, we joined some of the other women. I took my clothes off, and amidst much curiosity and giggles,




Dancing during the Chamos festival


Gulistan poured warm water (they insisted - not even they use the freezing river water) over me in the sunshine, before helping me to put on my black & green Kalasha dress, headdress and beads. Back at the guesthouse, she braided my hair in typical Kalasha style. The transformation was, once again, complete. The next day, forty goats were sacrificed at the temple in honour of the God (they are later eaten), and the men have to purify themselves with the fresh goat's blood.

Later that day, there was a ritual cleansing ceremony in one of the temples with burning juniper branches and offerings of chapati bread. There was much singing, dancing, and chanting, and we were lucky enough to witness a baby ceremony at the bashali, the Kalasha menstruation house. In the Kalasha tradition, men are pure and women impure, and women live in the bashali for the duration of their menstruation. They also give birth there and remain there with the newborn baby for seven days. Harsh as this may sound, in practice it gives the women a rest time, as they do nothing other than enjoying themselves during their time in the bashali, and I wonder



Pensive Kalasha girl

whether this practice goes back to more ancient times, when women gathered and separated themselves from the men voluntarily during their moontime, knowing how powerful this time is for dreams, visions, etc. In fact, the Kalash women, although having a much lower status than the men (they are not allowed to go to the big temples, for example), are vibrant, vivacious, strong, confident. They seem to run the show. They are also extremely beautiful, with very striking features. I was hoping to spend my moontime with the women in the Bashali and had been granted permission to do so, but in the end, it was just too cold for me in the valley. Four days in Rumbur were more than enough - with no heating, an open-air bathroom, and logging water from the river up the stairs for a wash and the toilet. Yoga had to be done with three layers of thermals, a wooly hat, and gloves. It was a notch up in cold from Tibet. Living in Rumbur was like being in a freezer 24/7. I simply couldn't get warm, the whole group got sick, and so I left for the warmer shores of Islamabad, resolving to return



Yours truly in Kalasha outfit

in the spring for the Kalash spring (Beltane) festival.
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« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2008, 10:05:20 am »



KALASHA BOY WATCHING THE FESTIVITIES









The Chamos festival itself was wonderful. There was nightly singing, chanting and dancing around a bonfire (and I was dragged into the circle many times). On the 17th, the most important day, the singing and dancing started early in the morning - the women danced in circles and sang rhymes at the men who left to go up to the temple to offer juniper sticks to the Gods.

The women sang

'The men have left us,
we sing and dance,
we burn our lives for you in the fire,
for our tradition,
for our beautiful culture'.



It was exuberant, joyful and loud. People gave colourful woven ribbons to each other, to every household. Many different circles formed, arm in arm they danced and playfully ran into each other. The men danced on the roof and sang, and I spotted the shaman in his golden robe, swaying in the middle. Men, children, women - they all celebrated like there's no tomorrow. It was getting louder and crazier all the time, and it was only 11.30 am. A little later, the men who were at the temple came down in a single



Purification ceremony in the temple

file, hands on each others' shoulders, and circled the women three times to bless them. I stood in the middle with the Kalash women and felt very emotional. It was all so beautiful.

In the evening, a procession of flaming torches came down the hill, and a gigantic bonfire was lit. The men once again circled the women, singing and chanting, and together with the Kalash, I sang and danced the night away. After a day's rest after the festivities, we left on the 19th, feeling enormously privileged to have been able to be part of this special festival.


http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/Pakistan/North-West-Frontier-Province/Chitral/blog-230256.html
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« Reply #23 on: June 03, 2008, 10:29:28 am »












                                                   K A L A S H - K A L A S H A






Total population
ca. 6,000
 

Regions with significant populations

Chitral District



Languages

Kalash, Urdu



Religions

Polytheism (ca. 3,000), Islam (ca. 3,000)



Related ethnic groups

Pashai and Nuristani



The Kalash (Nuristani: Kasivo) or Kalasha, are an ethnic group of the Hindu Kush mountain range, residing in the Chitral district of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. They speak the Kalash language, a member of the Dardic family of Indo-Aryan.

There is some controversy over what defines the ethnic characteristics of the Kalash. 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 can't live among us anymore. We keep our identity strong."

Thousands have converted to Islam, yet still live nearby in the Kalash villages and maintain their language and many aspects of their ancient culture. In fact, sheikhs, or converts to Islam, make up more than half of the total Kalasha-speaking population.
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« Reply #24 on: June 03, 2008, 10:36:28 am »












Name


According to the linguist Richard Strand, the people of Chitral apparently adopted the name of the former Kafiristan Kalasha, who at some unknown time extended their influence into Chitral.

A reference for this assumption could be the names kâsv'o respectively kâsi'o, used by the neighboring Nuristani Kata and Kom for the Kalash of Chitral. From these the earlier name kâs'ivo (instead Kalasha) could be derived.





Culture


The culture of Kalash people is unique and differs drastically from the various ethnic groups surrounding them. 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.

Kalash mythology and folklore has been compared to that of ancient Greece, but they are much closer to Indo-Iranian (Vedic and pre-Zoroastrian) traditions. According to one of their legends, Kalash people are the descendants of Alexander the Great’s soldiers who settled and ruled the area after the expedition.

                                           

The following statement made by a Kalash named Kazi Khushnawaz indicates Kalash people main belief for the origin of their culture:


"Long long ago, before the days of Islam, Sikander e Aazem came to India.

The Two Horned one whom you British people call Alexander the Great.

He conquered the world, and was a very great man, brave and dauntless and generous to his followers. When he left to go back to Greece, some of his men did not wish to go back with him but preferred to stay here.

Their leader was a general called Shalakash (i.e: Seleucus). With some of his officers and men, he came to these valleys and they settled here and took local women, and here they stayed.

We, the Kalash, the Black Kafir of the Hindu Kush, are the descendants of their children. Still some of our words are the same as theirs, our music and our dances, too; we worship the same gods.

This is why we believe the Greeks are our first ancestors."






Language


Kalash language

The language of the Kalash is a Dardic language belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranian group; itself part of the larger Indo-European family. It is classified as a member of the Chitral sub-group, the only other member of that group being Khowar. The Norwegian Linguist Georg Morgenstierne who studied both languages wrote that in spite of similarities Kalasha is an independent language in its own right, not a mere dialect of Khowar.

Until the latter 20th century, Kalash was an undocumented language.

More recently, through the work of a Greek NGO and local Kalash elders seeking to preserve their oral traditions, a new Kalasha alphabet has been created.

Taj Khan Kalash has also been influential in the development of the new alphabet. Having moved to Thessaloniki, Greece to study linguistics in the Aristotle University, he and the Greek NGO Mesogaia
took on the task of compiling the script and creating The Alphabet Book, a primer used to teach the alphabet to the Kalash children.

Badshah Munir Bukhari unicoded the Kalasha Language in 2005.
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« Reply #25 on: June 03, 2008, 10:40:18 am »









Customs





Kalash women usually wear long black robes, often embroidered with cowrie shells.

For this reason, they are known in Chitral as "The Black Kafirs". Men have adopted the Pakistani
shalwar kameez, while children wear small versions of adult clothing after the age of four.

In contrast to the surrounding Pakistani culture, the Kalash do not in general separate males and females or frown on contact between the sexes.

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.  The husband is an active participant in this ritual.

Marriage by elopement is rather frequent, also involving women who are already married to another man. Indeed, wife-elopement is counted as one of the "great customs" (ghōna dastūr) together with the main festivals.


                                   

Girls are usually married at an early age. If a woman wants to change husbands, she will write a letter to her prospective husband offering herself in marriage and informing the would-be groom how much her current husband paid for her. 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.

Kalash lineages (kam) separate as marriageable descendants have separated by over seven generations. A rite of "breaking agnation" (tatbře čhin) marks that previous agnates (tatbře) are now permissible affines (därak "clan partners).  Each kam has a separate shrine in the clan's Jēṣṭak-hān, the temple to lineal or familial goddess Jēṣṭak.
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« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2008, 10:42:44 am »












Festivals



The three main festivals (khawsáṅgaw) of the Kalash  are the Joshi festival in late May, the Uchau in autumn, and the Caumus in midwinter.

The pastoral god Sorizan protects the herds in Fall and Winter and is thanked at the winter festival, while Goshidai does so until the Pul festival (pũ. from *pūrṇa, full moon in Sept.) and is thanked at the Joshi (joṣi, žōši) festival in spring.

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.

The most important Kalash festival is the Chaumos (cawmōs, ghona chawmos yat, Khowar "chitrimas" from *cāturmāsya, CDIAL 4742), which is celebrated for two weeks at winter solstice (c. Dec. 7-22), at the beginning of the month chawmos mastruk. It marks the end of the year's fieldwork and harvest. It involves much music, dancing, and the sacrifice of many goats. It is dedicated to the god Balimain who is believed to visit from the mythical homeland of the Kalash, Tsyam (Tsiyam, tsíam), for the duration of the feast. 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. The 'old rules' of the gods (Devalog, dewalōk) are no longer in force, as is typical for year-end and carnival-like rituals. The main Chaumos ritual takes place at a Tok tree, a place called Indra's place, "indrunkot", or "indréyin". Indrunkot is sometimes believed to belong to Balumain's brother, In(dr), lord of cattle.

Ancestors, impersonated by young boys (ōnjeṣṭa 'pure') are worshipped and offered bread; they hold on to each other and form a chain (cf. the Vedic anvārambhaṇa) and snake through the village.

The men must be divided into two parties: the pure ones have to sing the well-honored songs of the past, but the impure sing wild, passionate, and obscene songs, with an altogether different rhythm. This is accompanied by a 'sex change': men dress as women, women as men (Balumain also is partly seen as female and can change between both forms at will).

This includes the Festival of the Budulak (buḍáḷak, the 'shepherd king'). 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 24-hour period only to have sexual intercourse with any woman he wants, including even the wife of another man, or a young virgin or his own mother if he wants her. Any child born of this 24-hour rampage is considered to be blessed. The Kalash claim to have abolished this practice in recent years due to negative world-wide 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. When the "nagayrō" song with the response "han sarías" (from *samrīyate 'flows together', CDIAL 12995) is voiced, Balumain showers all his blessings and disappears. 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.

In myth, Mahandeu had cheated Balumain from superiority, when all the gods had slept together (a euphemism) in the Shawalo meadow; therefore, he went to the mythical home of the Kalash in Tsiyam (tsíam) , to come back next year like the Vedic Indra (Rigveda 10.86). 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.
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« Reply #27 on: June 03, 2008, 10:45:25 am »










Religion



Kalash culture and belief system differs drastically from the various ethnic groups surrounding them but is similar to that of the neighboring Nuristanis (Kafirs) in northeast Afghanistan, before their enforced Islamization in the last decade of the 19th century. Kalash religion, mythology and ritual strongly resemble those of the Vedic Indo-Aryans and the pre-Zoroastrian Iranians.

There is a creator deity called Dezau (ḍezáw) whose name is derived from Indo-European *dheig'h 'to form' (cf. Vedic dih, Kati Nuristani dez 'to create', CDIAL 14621); he is also called by the Persian term Khodai (Khodáy, Paydagaráw, Parwardigár, Malék). 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, along with Hinduism and Zoroastrianism.

There is the prominent Indr or Varendr (Warín, Werín from *aparendra); the rainbow (indré~ CDIAL 1577) is called "Indra's bow" as in Vedic; when it thunders, Indra plays Polo. Indra is attested both in Vedic and Avestan texts and goes back to Indo-Iranian deity Vṛtrahan the 'slayer of vṛtra' (resistance).

Indra appears in various form, such as Sajigor (Sajigōr), also called Shura Verin (Šúra Werín from *śūra *aparendra 'the hero, the unrivaled Indra'). Warén(dr-) or In Warīn is the mightiest and most dangerous god. The location of his shrine was assigned by bow shot, which recalls the Vedic Indra's Bunda bow.
Another one of his forms is the recently popular Balumain (Baḷimaín). Riding on a horse, comes to the Kalash valleys from the outside at winter solstice. 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. Indra has a demon-like counterpart, Jeṣṭan (from *jyeṣṭha? 'the best'), who appears on earth as a dog; the gods (Devalog, Dewalók) are his enemies and throw stones at him, the shooting stars.

Another god, Munjem Malik (munjem from *madhyama 'middle'; malék from Arab. malik 'king'), is the Lord of Middle Earth and killed, like the Vedic Indra, his father, a demon. Mahandeo (mahandéo, cf. the Nuristani Mon/Māndi, from *mahān deva), is the god of crops, and also the god of war and a negotiator with the highest deity.

Jestak (jéṣṭak, from *jyeṣṭhā, or *deṣṭrī?) is the goddess of domestic life, family and marriage. Her lodge is the women's house (Jeṣṭak Han).

Dezalik (ḍizálik), the sister of "Dezau" is the goddess of childbirth, the hearth and of life force; she protects children and women. She is similar to the Kafiri Nirmali (Indo-Iranian *nirmalikā). She is also responsible for the Bashaleni lodge.

There also is a general pattern of belief in mountain fairies, Suchi (súči, now often called Peri), who help in hunting and killing enemies, and the Varōti (~ Sanskrit Vātaputra), their violent male partners (echoing the Vedic Apsaras and Gandharvas). They live in the high mountains, such as Tirich Mir (~ Vedic Meru, *devameru: Shina díamer, CDIAL 6533), but in late autumn they descend to the mountain meadows. The Jach (j.ac. from *yakṣ(inī), are a separate category of female spirits of the soil or of special places, fields and mountain pastures.
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« Reply #28 on: June 03, 2008, 10:49:12 am »










Ritual



These deities have shrines throughout the valleys, where they frequently receive goat sacrifices.

In 1929, as Georg Morgenstierne testifies, such rituals were still carried out by Kalashpriests,
"ištikavan" 'priest' (from ištikhék 'to praise a god').

This institution has since disappeared but there still is the prominent one of shamans (dehar). The deities are temporary visitors.

Kalash shrines (dūr 'house', cf. Vedic dúr) are a wooden board or stone altar at juniper, oak, cedar trees, in 1929 still with the effigy of a human head inside holes in these shrines. Horses, cows, goats and sheep were sacrificed. Wine is a sacred drink of Indr, who owns a vineyard that he defends against invaders. Kalash ritual is of potlatch type; by organizing rituals and festivals (up to 12; the highest called biramōr) one gains fame and status.

As in the Veda, the former local artisan class was excluded from public religious functions.

However, there is a special role for prepubescent boys, who are treated with special awe, combining pre-sexual behavior and the purity of the high mountains, where they tend goats for the summer month.

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.

By contrast, women (especially during menstruation and giving birth), as well as death and decomposition and the outside (Muslim) world are impure, and, just as in the Veda and Avesta, many cleansing ceremonies are required if impurity occurs.

Crows represent the ancestors, and are frequently fed with the left hand (also at tombs), just as in the Veda. The dead are buried above ground in ornamented wooden coffins. Wooden effigies are erected at the graves of wealthy or honoured people
« Last Edit: June 03, 2008, 03:07:48 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #29 on: June 03, 2008, 10:52:03 am »











History



The Kalash have been ruled by the Mehtar of Chitral since the 1700s and 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 neighbors in the region of former Kafiristan west of the border, were invaded in
the 1890s and converted to Islam by Amir Abdur-Rahman of Afghanistan and their land was renamed Nuristan.

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. Increased international awareness, a more tolerant government, and monetary assistance has allowed them to continue their way of life. Their numbers remain stable at around 3,000. Although many convert to Islam, the high birth rate replaces them, and with medical facilities (previously there were none) they live longer.

Allegations of "immorality" connected with these practices have led to the forcible conversion to Islam of several villages in the 1950s, which has led to heightened antagonism between the Kalash and the surrounding Muslims.

Since the 1970s, schools and roads were built in some valleys.



Rehman and Ali (2001) report that pressure of radical Muslim organizations is on the increase:

Ardent Muslims on self-imposed missions to eradicate idolatry regularly attack those engaged in traditional Kalash religious rituals, smashing their idols. The local Mullahs and the visiting Tableghi Jammaites remain determined to 'purify' the Kafirs
« Last Edit: June 03, 2008, 02:42:05 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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