Kafir Kalash – a people of the lost civilization

Obscured by high mountains and across the treacherous muddy tracks, there live a people up in the north of Pakistan, who do not even know who they are or from where they came to live a life of isolation – yet maintain and protect their beliefs, their ideology and way of living. Their ancestry is enveloped in mystery and has always remained a subject of controversy. A legend says that five soldiers of the legions of Alexander of Macedonia settled in Chitral and are the progenitors of the Kafir-Kalash.
Between the town of Drosh and Chitral city, a track turn to the left from village of Ayun on Kunar river to the Kalash Valley, where these strange yet attractive people live in three villages of Rukmu, Mumret and Biriu (called Rambur, Bumburet and Birir in local Kalashi language). The present population of the Kafir Kalash is approximately 3,000. However, after living in obscurity for long, their children are now studying in local schools, but do not move out to seek other avenues of livelihood and continue to cling to their age old traditions and customs.
The villages are situated on the southern face of the hillside about 50-100 meters above the river. This protects them from invaders and the floods in summer, and at the same time helps to get sunshine during the winter. The snow that lies on the bottom of the ravine and in the shade do not melt until spring. In summer to avoid the sun, some people live in a second house built on the opposite side of the river. The Kalash Valleys have extensive forests of Holly-Oak and Himalayan cedar. Walnut, Apricot, Apple, Pear and Mulberry trees abound near the villages.

While Kalash men wear ordinary shalwar kameez (the loose long shirt and trousers) as do most of the Pakistanis, the Kalash women wear five large braids of and the ‘Cheo’, a black woolen homespun dress, red-beaded necklaces by the dozen, and an exceptional head piece (shaped differently in each valley) covered in cowry shells, beads and trinkets that flow down their back. For their black robes, the Kalash are sometimes referred to as the “Wearers of the Black Robes”. Kalash means black in their language.

Herein under is a pictorial representation of Kalash people, their fetivals and music.
Cheelim Jusht Festival 2010 - Kalash
Cheelim Jusht Festival 2010 – Kalash by Iqbal Khatri (Bumburet Valley of Kalash, Chitral, Pakistan)
Spring is welcomed to the valleys with girls singing and dancing on the roofs for the Kirik Pushik, the festival of the first flower blooming. In spring women are allowed to enter the restricted upper valleys, with the Siu Wajik rite, in which a girl crushes three walnuts as an offering on the boundary bridge. Joshi, the main spring festival, is held in May. All the houses and the temple of the goddess Jeshtak are decorated with walnut branches and flowers, and milk is distributed to all the villagers.
Colours of Kalash Valley
Colours of Kalash Valley by Iqbal Khatri
Kalashi Girl
Kalashi Girl by Max Loxton
Kalash Girls in Rumbur, Chitral, Pakistan - June 2006
Kalash Girls in Rumbur, Chitral, Pakistan – June 2006 by SaffyH – Minsmere
A Kalash Cherub, Hindukush, Kalash valleys
A Kalash Cherub, Hindukush, Kalash valleys by imranthetrekker
Kalasha. (people with black robe).
Kalasha. (people with black robe). by Nadeem Khawar
How is my Baby now ?
How is my Baby now ? by Iqbal Khatri
Uncle of the deceased guy
Uncle of the deceased guy by imranthetrekker
Traditional Hip Hop
Traditional Hip Hop by ?§m?
Kalash sisters - Pakistan
Kalash sisters – Pakistan by hongkiu
Kalash Girls, Chitral (Pakistan)
Kalash Girls, Chitral (Pakistan) by Amir Mukhtar Mughal
Three Kalash girls by jitenshaman
Very Old Women in Kalash
Very Old Women in Kalash by Gulraiz Ghori
Kalash Spring festival in Hindukush by imranthetrekker
dark green eyes pakistan kalash girl
dark green eyes Pakistan kalash girl by Blue_agava
Kalash by Jonny Cash Money
The music of Kalash, Hindukush, Chitral
This footage is shot while a Kalash woman was playing flute and it is so sweet, when one looks at the ambience around her and the music.
Read more about Kafir Kalash and their customs and traditions at: Kalash Valley where fairies dance and sing (Pakistanpaedia)

25th December – birthday of the Christ and the Quaid

The last week of December is a week of celebrations – when the entire Christian World is engrossed in celebrating the birth of Prophet Isa (May peace be upon him) or the Christ. Yes I am talking of Christmas – falling on 25th December, the birthday of a prophet. Unlike the Christian world, for whom there is no prophet to revere after the Christ, we the Muslims have same respect as we have for any prophet that came to this world before Prophet Muhammad (May peace be upon him). For us, the birthday of a prophet is as respectful as it is for his followers.

So Happy Christmas to all Christians around the globe. And I wish everyone peace, love, prosperity and all the happiness in life. When I went to market today, I saw lot of rush on shops selling Christmas trees……

Chitramas – the Kalash Winter Festival

Although Christmas has some resemblance with the word Chitramas, but the latter is celebrated in a very remote area of the world in the Chitral Valley of Pakistan. Chitramas or Chaumos is the winter festival of the Kafir Kalash people living in three valleys of Bumburate, Birir and Rumbur in the Chitral. The festival is presently being celebrated by these indigenous people of unknown origin, which will terminate on 22 December. Chitramas festival is considered the most important festivals of Kalash people from their spiritual point of view.

The Chitramas festivities are held to mark the end of the previous year’s harvest and fieldwork. Thereafter, the month of Chawmos Mastruk of the New Year dawns. The festival thus is a sort of saying goodbye to the previous year and welcoming the new year. The festivities include dancing, lively music and sacrificing goats. The Kalash slaughter their goats, mostly one goat per adult man or woman, on the concluding day of the festival. The festival also gains importance for the reason that the Kalash believe that god Balimain visits its subjects during the festival. Besides the many festivities, food sacrifices are offered at the clans’ Jeshtak shrines, dedicated to the ancestors.

However, some men and women volunteer to seclude themselves from the others and remain confined in a cattle house for the duration of the weeklong festival. This tradition of seclusion is called Autik, which simply means “to get secluded.” These people eat the meat of the slaughtered goats, drink and pass time in merrymaking. While these people are celebrating in seclusion, care is taken that no outsiders sees them, lest they get polluted.

The Kalash children go up to the mountain, where they divide into boys and girls, and respectively make a big bonfire. After singing songs for some time the fire will be extinguished and then the two groups will compete with each other for the size of the smoke that rises up in the air. Then they all go down the mountain and return to the village singing ” songs of Sarazari” carrying branches cut down from the mountain top. The elders will be waiting chanting songs in the village.

The festivities don’t get mar by the heavy snowfall at this time of the year in the Chitral valley. However, in case the sun shines, it adds colours and joy to the Kalash people. If you happen to be visiting Pakistan next year, do plan to visit Chitral and join the Kalash people in their festival of Chitramas – which at least by its name won’t let you feel missing the Christmas celebrations.

Related Reading: The Kalash Valley – where fairies dance and sing (Pakistanpaedia)

Pakistan is Asian Hockey Champion

Pakistan beat Malaysia 2-0 in the Asian Games Hockey finals to bag yet another gold medal for Pakistan. In fact this gold has been awaited for the last 20 years when Pakistan won the gold in 1994 Asiad in Beijing. This time too China brings good luck to Pakistan.
Today Pakistan also won gold in squash team event by beating Malaysia. So in a day Pakistan beat Malaysia twice and both times filled their bags with gold. Pakistani girls also won gold in the women cricket earlier in the ongoing Asian Games. Pakistan got lucky as McKenna did in the final scene of the epic movie McKenna’s Gold.
Read full post at jahojalal

Happy Eid ul Azha

The Muslims all over the world celebrate the Eid ul Azha (or Adha) on the 10th of last Islamic month of Zil Hajjah. Eidain or the two Eids that is the Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Azha are the two festivities of the Muslim world which are celebrated with religious fervor and zeal. The Eid ul Fitr is celebrated just after the month of Ramadan (during the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast for 29-30 days and abstain themselves from eating from dawn to dusk beside some other conditions) on the 1st day of the Shawal.

The word “Eid” is an Arabic word that means “festival” and Eid-ul-Azha means the Greater Festival as it is celebrated to remember the sacrifice of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), who in obedience to the command of the Almighty took his beloved son to sacrifice in the name of his Creator. While he blindfolded himself so that his son’s blood doesn’t distract him from the supreme sacrifice, the Allah Almighty acknowledging his sacrifice and willingness to obey His command replaced Ismail with a ram. And since that day, Muslims all over the world sacrifice an animal (goat, ram, cow or even camel) to commemorate the greatest sacrifice ever.

Like many who could afford to sacrifice, I (by the grace of Almighty) also went to the animal market with my son and a friend. There were lot of buyers and animals. Every buyer was trying to purchase a good animal for a lesser cost while the sellers were trying to pocket huge profits. After lot of survey and negotiations, we finally purchased one at a cost that my pocket allowed. We took the goats home in a taxi and my sons straightaway started to feed the goat as it was our guest for one night only.

Today after the Eid prayers, we took the goat to a central place with requisite facilities and had our goat sacrificed by the butcher, which my friend had arranged. On Eid days, everyone who has the slightest knowhow of using a knife becomes a butcher and charge a very high labour to do the goat. This “butcher” happened to be a grill maker, who was doing a part time this morning. I don’t have to tell you what he did to our goat, but at least he did what he could.

The aim of sacrifice, like all other fundamentals of Islam, is to lead one to self righteousness. To explicate its purpose, Allah says in the Quran, “It is not their meat, nor their blood, that reaches Allah; it is their piety that reaches Him.”

Besides following the footsteps of the Prophet Ibrahim, the aim of sacrifice has greater meanings. Each sacrificial animal’s meat is to be divided into three portions; one is to be kept for own family, while of the other two, one part is to be distributed among the poor who cannot afford to sacrifice and thus including them in our own festivities and making them feel part of the whole. The third portion is to be distributed among the relatives, but starting from the lower level of financial well being thereby also providing them a chance to celebrate the festivities.

So back home, we divided the meat into three portions and distributed as per the teachings. While we were distributing, we were also receiving meat from friends and neighbours. So while I am writing the post after having distributed the two shares, now my doorbell is constantly ringing as others are sending in. This is the spirit of the day as everyone remembers the poor and the friends and neighbours.

Originally posted at JahoJalal