KALASHA Kalasha are indigenous people of the Hindu Kush mountain range. They resides in the Chitral district of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. Kalasha speak the Kalash language (Origin of language is traced from Dardic family of the Indo-Iranian languages). They also understands urdu and pashto language. Kalasha are related to the Pashi and Nuristani people of the adjacent Nuristan province of Afghanistan. Kalasha are sometimes referred to as the “Wearers of the Black Robes.” Kalashi means black in their native language. There are less than 4,000 Kalash left. They were 3,554 to be precise when the last count was done in 2009.
ORIGIN & CULTURE The ancestors of Kalasha are migrated to Chitral from Afghanistan in the 2nd century BC. Some of the Kalasha people claim that the are descendants of Alexander the Greats soldiers and Scholars have also found many similarities in culture, religion and appearance between Kalash people and the ancient Greeks. kalasha are polytheists and nature plays a highly significant and spiritual role in their daily life and habitat. Kalasha people worship the 12 gods of the ancient Greeks. Kalasha mythology and folklore has been compared to that of ancient Greece, but they are found to be much closer to Indo- Iranian (Vedic and pre-Zoroastrian) traditions.
FESTIVALS Their are three main festivals of kalasha tribe: Joshi festival in late May, Uchau in autumn, Caumus in midwinter. Joshi -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. Uchal -The Uchal festival is celebrated in order to mark and safeguard the Harvest of wheat and barley. Festival starts from both Bumburet and Rambur, as these two valleys are the main source of providing these crops. Chomos- This festival is to celebrate the upcoming New Year. Older members of the valleys sit on the top of the hills to witness the dawn and the initial lights of sun striking their valleys. Until their declaration all the peoples remain in their homes. celebration starts with the sacrificing of the goats for goddess Jastak.
CUSTOMS Kalasha women usually wear long black robes, often embroidered with cowrie shells. Men have adopted the Pakistani shalwar kameez. children wear small versions of adult clothing after the age of six. Kalasha peoples do not separate males and females for sexual regions. At the time of Menstruating girls and women are sent to live in the bashaleni (the village menstrual building, during their periods, until they regain their "purity“). Women gives birth in the bashaleni and stay their at least 10 days. There is also a ritual restoring "purity" to a woman after childbirth which must be performed before a woman can return to her husband.
Even if a boy is born, he is not considered as ‘man’ until he is sixyears old. The boy has to live with women and he is not allowed towear pants or pyjamas for six years since his birth. A big celebrationis held when a boy turns six and wears a ‘shalwar’ or pants. After thathe eats only with men and not with women. A goat is also sacrificedto mark the occasion and the meat is eaten only by the men. Kalasha girls are free to choose their life partners and also have theright to divorce.wife-elopement is one of the great customs(ghōna dastūr) togetherwith the main festivals. If a woman wants to change husbands, she writes a letter to herprospective husband offering herself in marriage and informing thathe would-be groom how much her current husband paid for her. Thisis because the new husband must pay double if he wants her.When any kalasha die, Dead bodies are kept in the coffin for two tothree days in the graveyard. Every Kalash community member insurrounding are informed about the death. Women in the family sitaround the body with their hair covering their faces while rest of thecommunity people keep on dancing around the body. The Kalashfrom different villages continue to come and join the celebrations.
WOMEN CLOTHING All women wear black robes called Piran and it takes at least nine metres of cloth to make one dress. Cheo over black robes piran. Nowadays the black robe has started drawing on diverse fashion influences and has come to be decorated with accessories and colourful embroidery coupled with beads, shells and coins.
WOMEN HEADGEAR Kalasha women wear an extraordinarily large headgear called Kopus. Kopus are embellished with buttons, beads and shells, which in some cases tops two kilogrammes in weight. Some suggest that the colorful headpiece resembles Macedonian war helmets. The cost of one dress varies from 2,500 rupees (Dh110) to 6,000 rupees (Dh180), which is a lot of money for the average Kalash.