Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Pakistan's Kalasha people fear for their way of life as climate changes for worse


Pakistan's Kalasha people fear for their way of life as climate changes for worse

Chitral, Pakistan: For Akram Hussain, unprecedented monsoon floods that drenched his Hindu Kush mountain valley this year were a danger to more than just homes and crops.
His 4,000-strong Kalasha people, who live in three remote valleys in north-west Pakistan, preserve an ancient way of life, including animist beliefs at odds with Pakistan's dominant Islamic state religion. That has led to threats by the Taliban, who call them kafirs, or non-believers.
Outsiders, looking for arable land, also have increasingly moved into their high mountain valleys.
Now, worsening extreme weather linked to climate change is making efforts to preserve the old ways even harder, the Kalasha say.
"Our culture and language were already under threat and now these floods have devastated half our valley," Hussain said.
Torrential rainfall in July in the district - an area that usually falls outside Pakistan's monsoon belt - sent floodwater pouring down steep mountainsides, damaging infrastructure in the valleys of Bumburet and Rumbur.
Birir, the third valley inhabited by the Kalasha, was spared.
The floods damaged tourist hotels, shops and houses near the nullah (mountain stream) on the valley floor and swept away crops of ripe maize and orchards full of fruit trees.
"This winter is going to be very difficult for us," Hussain said.
Around the world, extreme weather and rising seas linked to climate change are presenting a growing threat not just to lives and homes but to cultures, from nomads in the drought-hit Sahel to Pacific Islanders who fear the loss of their entire nations.
Descendants of Alexander the great?
For Pakistan's Kalasha, struggling to preserve their culture is nothing new. They are the last survivors of the people of Kafiristan, who were mostly converted to Islam in the nineteenth century.
Their neighbours across the mountains, in the Afghan province of Nuristan, are the Taliban, who hold sway in parts of that country.
Among the Kalasha, prayers are offered during festivities that commemorate the changing seasons. Their elaborate rites demand the sacrifice of dozens of goats, which is becoming increasingly expensive, particularly as crops are destroyed by extreme weather.
"When the livestock comes down for the winter what are we going to feed them? If our livestock goes, our culture goes," Hussain said.
In Bumburet Valley, the Kalasha Cultural Centre, built by the Greek government in 2004, houses an impressive museum of Kalash artefacts,  including colourful embroidered clothes, musical instruments, jewellery and wooden sculptures.
Greek interest in the Kalasha stems from the belief that they are descendants of the army of Alexander the Great which marched through these mountains centuries ago.
The centre was spared by the floods, thanks to a strong stone wall built around its perimeters.
For the most part, the effects of climate change simply compound other problems the Kalasha have faced recently as migrants move into their valleys.
"Some of these migrants are brainwashing the Kalash people.
There have been several conversions to Islam this year alone," Hussain said.
The winter ahead - when the valleys are cut off from the rest of the country by snow - will be long and hard this year, the Kalasha warn.
In the village of Krakal, Shahida, a young Kalash woman explains: "We live on goat's milk, cheese and beans during the winter months. Now with our crops washed away by the floods and no fodder for our livestock we are very worried."
The sturdy traditional construction of the Kalash homes helped them to survive the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck the Hindu Kush on 26 October, although some have cracks that must be repaired before winter.
Most Kalash homes were also spared by the summer floods as they are built higher up on the mountainsides. But some tourist hotels and other buildings were washed away.
Deforestation problems
With all the reconstruction that will take place before the winter snow arrives in December, even more trees will be felled to rebuild hotels and houses. Shahida feels that deforestation is a part of the problem in the Kalash valleys.
"I think the main reason for the floods is the cutting of trees. There were so many forests up in the high pastures and they are gone now. If the government cannot control deforestation the floods will keep coming and become more severe," she said.
The Bumburet valley attracts thousands of tourists each year who come to see the Kalasha, especially during their festivals, when there is dancing and mulberry wine flows.
For many years, Greek volunteers would travel to the Kalash valleys to help with construction and other charitable work that contributed to their cultural preservation.
In 2009, one volunteer was kidnapped by the Taliban and released only after eight months in captivity. No further volunteers have come from Greece since then.
"That was a big blow to our community since he was doing good work for the Kalasha. The second blow was when one of our shepherds was brutally murdered on the border with Nuristan a few years ago. Luckily the army has moved in and we have better security now," said Shahida.
A military camp and new police station have sprung up in the last couple of years. The army is currently repairing roads and bridges destroyed by the floods, and they also patrol the high mountain border with Nuristan.
But "it's not the Taliban that is the main threat," said Quaid-e-Azam, a Kalash community leader from Rumbur Valley. "It is climate change. We need to start planning for future disasters, otherwise life is going to be very difficult for us."
Source:
http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/news/pakistanafghanistan/358297/pakistan-s-kalasha-people-fear-for-their-way-of-life-as-climate-changes-for-worse

Fear the wrath of God

Fear the wrath of God
What do women seeking abortions, homosexuals in the US military, the animistic tribe of the Pakistani Kalash, and Christmas celebrating, non-vegetarians have in common?
Apparently, God hates them and so we all have to put up with terrorists, strong winds and the earth splitting wide open.
“Look what the Kalash have done now”
In the wake of November’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake, a tragedy that left over 390 people dead, Pakistanis have descended into their favourite game; the blame game.
It’s a familiar, age-old phenomenon. The wrath of God has been a sound explanation for the cruel, unusual, confusing and tragic since the inception of religion, and, perhaps, humankind. In the aftermath of tragedy, our coalition of reasoning has a total breakdown. We remember we are conquerable, mere mortals and this terrifies us, leaving us with few answers and many fears.
And so, we turn on each other.
After 9/11 an American pastor proposed that the terror acts happened because God was angry with Americans over abortions.
In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, one of five deadliest hurricanes in American history, a televangelist observed God had let it happen because of America’s descent into immorality. According to him the natural disaster was proof that the “judgment of America (had) begun”. The same year, a Buddhist monk blamed the Indian Ocean earthquake-generated tsunamis on the Christians. According to the monk, the natural disaster had taken place the day after Christmas because too many Christians had slaughtered animals and consumed their meat for the holiday.
Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake in which 316,000 lives were lost, a prominent rabbi reasoned that God Almighty was obviously sending a message to the gays in the US military. In 2011 the State of Virginia was struck by an earthquake, which took no lives but caused $300 million dollars in damage. The same rabbi again pinpointed homosexuality as the cause. This time he was a tad bit more diplomatic by specifically asking the “gays not to take it personally (because) this is just God doing what God does”.
The Blame Game
In Pakistan, we like to rotate the scapegoats of our blame game.
Some of the favourite contestants favoured by Pakistani conspiracy theorists are (in no particular order) the Indians, Amreekis (Americans), religious fundamentalists, or, as seen in the recent case following this year’s earthquake, the Kalash ‘kafirs’ infiltrating Pakistan who – despite being a minority of 3,500 in a country of 182 million – are apparently capable of bringing forth the scourge of God.
Or, I don’t know, maybe, there was an earthquake because of an immense build-up of geologic pressure at a subduction zone between two colliding tectonic plates or whatever.
The average reader may not even know who or what a Kalash is.
After all, they are fairly confined to their tribal lifestyle centred in the northern valleys of Pakistan. Plus, there’s only like, 3,500 of them and Pakistan’s a fairly populated place so – unless you’ve snuck up to the mountains for mini-Las Vegas style getaway with booze, beautiful women, and dancing – chances are you don’t actually know a real life Kalash outside of Google Images.
The Kalasha are Pakistan’s smallest non-Muslim community. They reside primarily in the Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa(K-P). They are polytheists and nature is a big part of their spiritual and daily life. A recent DNA analysis has confirmed the Kalashas are likely descendants of Alexander the Great’s soldiers. Their laws are highly unique compared to the rest of Pakistan, which is predominantly governed by a combination of Shariah and British common law. Alcohol is not forbidden to them. Divorce is easy enough for Kalasha women looking to change spouses. They must simply write a letter to the prospective new spouse offering herself in marriage and ask that the prospective purchase her at a higher price than the current spouse. Gender segregation is not a part of the daily life of the Kalash. Neither is veiling.
The Kalash are a unique and fascinating people. They are capable of many things. They make their own wine (known as tara), their own recreational drugs (nazar, an opiate-based chewing tobacco is a favourite), they have their own music and even their own set of laws (meaning they are outside the ambit of Shariah law which controls the rest of us Pakistanis).
What the Kalash are not capable of is singlehandedly inviting the wrath of any particular deity or God. And they certainly do not have control of the three colliding tectonic plates (Indian, Eurasian and Arabian) that Pakistan sits on top of and frequently is destroyed by.
Divine Intervention not Divine Retribution
Natural disasters are disruptive. And with this physical disruption comes the disruption of people’s worldviews. The weak, vulnerable and scared are the perfect target for theological institutions looking to win new believers. Combine a vulnerable population with the double-edged sword that is social media and what you have is a platform allowing aggressive, fanatic, and downright lunatic religious zealots to circulate their inflammatory ‘this is God’s wrath’ and ‘they caused this earthquake because they drink and party’ slogans. With emotions already high following the loss of loved ones and destruction of homes and livelihoods, it becomes too easy for a select few incendiaries to drive the country and its otherwise sane citizens towards irrational hysteria.
This unrelenting routine is now the unfortunate norm, which unfolds in Pakistan following a mass-scale tragedy. Instead of endeavouring to repair broken communities, the rhetoric that arises by the right-wing, hardliners results in a damaging blowback, which only leaves already-shattered communities further fragmented and striated.
Instead of a coherent analysis of what happened (an earthquake), and a reasonable response (rally together as a nation, help one another out), we’re left with a gang of bullies – ideologically incompetents hell bent on insisting that the earth’s inevitable shifting process is actually a frightening display of the powers of an evil, angry God.
The valley of the Kalash was once dominated by mostly the Kalash and moderate Ismailis. Today, as a result of migration and forced conversion, the Kalash are few in number compared to a flourishing Sunni majority.
Absolute domination by the majority has left newer generation of the Kalash slowly losing a rich culture and unique religion. The handful left behind face a daily conundrum; convert to Islam or face death, stop production of your wine or be sent to hell by the will of God, cover your women or face hell fire for all of eternity.
Yes, there are faults in the earth’s crust. Yes, weather patterns cause torrential rains and winds.
Yes, this is not Pakistan’s first devastating earthquake. And, yes, sadly this is likely not her last.
In the meantime, as winter fast approaches with both the Kalash and Muslims of Chitral currently exposed to the elements, let’s open our wallets, our hearts, and our homes. And, this time, let’s aim at seeking divine intervention instead of divine retribution.
Source:
http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/30316/fear-the-wrath-of-god/

The Rustam of Kalash

The Rustam of Kalash

By Huma Choudhary / Photo: Huma Choudhary / Creative: Sanober Ahmed
Rustam Shah and Clark Kent, aka Superman, have a lot in common. They both use their abilities to improve the lives of others. Born in a tiny hamlet in Kalash Valley, Shah used the power of altruism to transform the fabric of life in his village and secure a safe future for its residents.

Commonly referred to as Luke Rehmat, Shah was destined for greatness. Regardless of his father’s insistence  that Shah assist him on the family lands, Shah’s mother moved him to a secondary school in Peshawar where he completed his matriculation and later, higher education.
Disheartened and laden with responsibility, Shah attended college intermittently and eventually, had to drop out. “It was then that I decided to try and change things for people like myself,” he says. Pakistan’s education system may have evolved in many ways but Shah believes there ought to be a way for students in remote areas to access lectures and take exams online. “Many people are passionate about studying but cannot stay away from their families due to certain difficulties,” he adds.After college, Shah decided to relocate to Islamabad to pursue a bachelor’s degree in governance and organisational sciences. Unfortunately, halfway through his degree, Shah’s sister was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder and as the only brother to seven sisters he had to return to the valley and take the reins from his parents. Desperate to complete his education, Shah tried to shift his entire family to Peshawar but was unable to do so due to financial constraints.

Upon his return to the village, Shah launched a couple of initiatives. The first was a news blog entitled The Kalasha Times which offers information regarding the region’s weather, culture and prominent tourist spots. It served as a makeshift pamphlet for the region and also reported on issues such as health and education. Soon enough, the blog took off and put Shah’s hometown on the national map. “Back in 2013, a wealthy cattleman was murdered here and hundreds of his sheep were stolen,” shares Shah. “Fortunately, as a result of our follow up, the government not only compensated his family for the loss but also gave them jobs.”
The overwhelming responses received by his first two initiatives purred Shah on. Shortly after, he established his very own non-profit organisation called the Kalash People’s Development Network (KPDN) in the hopes to expedite the changing process. With a hint of pride and nostalgia, Shah shares how KPDN immediately launched relief efforts when the Kalash Valley was afflicted with floods earlier this year. “Floods are not new to Kalash but the recent ones were catastrophic and took many lives,” he says. “There are just 4,000 people in all of the 12 villages of Kalash. I was afraid if we do not help the people, we might become one of those races that existed once upon a time.”During the same year, Shah introduced a regional news portal called Ishpata News, a Twitter and Facebook-based news service. “The world is moving towards online media and I wanted people to stay updated on what is happening in Kalash,” says Shah. “People are now more inclined towards visuals and storytelling. So we began producing documentaries, video clips and photographs.”
KPDN also houses the Kalash Health and Development Programme that grants the locals regular access to basic health check-ups by way of medical camps. Other sundry projects include the Forest Conservation and Development Programme that works to curtail deforestation in the valley. Another one of Shah’s premiere ventures is the Traditional Sports Development Programme which organises a 12-day sports festival during winter every year with the aim of promoting Kalash’s traditional games, such as ghal (snow golf).Over the years, KPDN has incorporated many other progressive projects under its banner of which the Women’s Welfare Development Programme is the most prominent. Under this, Kalasha women are given vocational training and medical assistance. “We have been displaying the products made in vocational centres at exhibitions across Pakistan,” says Shah. “Some of them are sent to the UK and we are currently in talks with a university in Australia too.” Recently, Shah and his team managed to raise funds to purchase ultrasound equipment for the local hospital as well.
Other than this, Shah and KPDN are currently involved in negotiations with the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) to issue locals official CNICs. The matter was actually resolved back in February this year but according to officials, the implementation can take up to six months or more. Adding to the variety of KPDN’s undertakings, Shah constructed a small room back in March where the Kalasha Academy of Computer Sciences (KACS) has been set up. Microsoft Word, Excel and other basic computer courses are taught here at bargain prices. “We charge a fee of Rs400,” says Shah. “Women and children are especially encouraged to join KACS.”
trailblazer in every sense of the word, Shah has gone above and beyond to serve the people of Kalash and will continue to do so with his feet firmly on the ground.
Source:
http://tribune.com.pk/story/1002594/the-rustam-of-kalash/

Stories of conversion

Stories of conversion

The writer is resident editor of The News in Peshawar.
Three Kalash girls converted to Islam in the Chitral district in the last one month, but 15-year-old Reena’s conversion on June 16 made media headlines, generating controversy and leading to tensions among the peace-loving Kalash and Muslim communities in the Bamburet valley.
Before Reena, two other girls Shaira and Karishma had embraced Islam as well, but the news remained confined to the three Kalash valleys of Bamburet, Rumbur and Birir where the Kalash, or Kalasha, peacefully coexist with their Muslim neighbours.
Reena’s conversion too would have remained unknown outside her native Aneesh village if there had been no protests (including stone-throwing) by Muslims at the house of a Kalash family that was allegedly helping her to revert to her religion. This case attracted attention all over Pakistan and abroad and almost every Pakistani politician and party gave statements condemning her ‘forced’ conversion. No attempt was made to get the details of Reena’s story and find out the truth. Reena too complained that nobody asked her about the reasons for her change of religion and instead a law and order situation was created in Bamburet out of ignorance or by those with vested interests.
Reena had approached Qari Maqbool, the peshimam of the mosque and administrator of the adjoining madressah in her village to formalise her conversion to Islam. The prayer leader did the needful. Imams, as we all know, are eager to oversee conversions as they see this as a means to seek Allah’s blessings and a vindication of the truthfulness of their religion.
It isn’t clear yet what really motivated Reena to abandon her animist set of Kalash religious rituals and become a Muslims at such a young age. Her uncle Sher Jehan and her aunt, who had embraced Islam earlier, are believed to have influenced her decision. Her father Ghulam Mohammad was visibly unhappy over Reena’s conversion when they travelled to Chitral town along with their relatives and Kalash and Muslim elders, under arrangements made by the local administration, to appear in a court and later address a news conference. However, he refrained from criticising her publicly. Instead, he pleaded that they be allowed to live peacefully as they had done all these years with their Muslim neighbours.
The issue was seen as resolved when Reena recorded her statement before Judicial Magistrate Fazal Wadood Jan under section 164 that she had embraced Islam of her own choice and not under any pressure. At the press conference, she declared that Islam was a religion of peace and love and condemned the propaganda that the local Muslim community had forced her to convert. This was a mature statement from a seemingly immature girl from a remote corner of northwestern Pakistan.
Reena was sent to her uncle’s house, the same place where the couple had reportedly influenced her to abandon her Kalash roots and become a Muslim. For now the situation has calmed down, but Reena’s conversion will continue to haunt the Kalash community, which is dwindling in numbers and influence, and will also likely mark its relations with the Muslims living in the three valleys that were originally Kalash.
It is unusual for the pagan Kalash minority or the Muslim community in Bamburet, Rumbur or Birir to confront each other the way they did in the aftermath of Reena’s conversion to Islam. Muslims gathered outside the house of Zareen, a Kalash whose wife has converted to Christianity and had reportedly tried to persuade Reena to abandon Islam and revert to her Kalash way of life. The mob of angry Muslims pelted the house with stones and demanded action against the family for misleading Reena. They could have burnt down the house, but the police reached the spot and managed to disperse the protesters through teargas and negotiations. Mercifully, there were no human or material losses.
On the persuasion of Osama Warraich, the deputy commissioner of Chitral, the Kalash and Muslim elders agreed to let Reena speak her mind before a court of law and accept her choice. As promised, the elders from the two communities have accepted Reena’s choice that she is now a Muslim.
The incident has renewed the debate about conversion of non-Muslims, including Hindu girls in Sindh, to Islam and raised questions whether these girls are converting willingly or under coercion. The fact that three Kalash girls converted to Islam in one month has been alarming news for the Kalash community. It is not only girls who are converting; many Kalash men, including an elderly 70-year old, have also converted to Islam.
In fact, some of the Kalash are also converting to Christianity. A prominent Kalash elder often quoted in the media has also become Christian. So both tableeghis, the Muslim preachers and the Christian missionaries, are at work as they try to attract the mostly poor Kalash community members to Islam and Christianity.
According to local officials, marriage with Muslim boys from the down districts, and money were the two major attractions for the Kalash to convert to Islam. In the case of the Kalash girls, marriage to Muslim boys was stated to be the reason for 90 percent of the conversions to Islam. They expressed doubt that the teenager Reena had studied enough of Islam to become a Muslim. However, in her case no definite reason is known yet that prompted her to convert. Probably, her uncle and aunt who had converted to Islam earlier played a key role in changing her mind and religion.
With around 4,000 Kalash left in Chitral following the growing conversions, the government needs to take a few steps to protect the community. As certain local officials pointed out, the costly religious and cultural festivals of the Kalash people have become unbearable for them and some of them convert to escape these unaffordable customs. The Kalash celebrate death and the three-day celebrations that follow may cost up to Rs800,000 as the mourners have to be fed and feted. The Chilumjusht spring festival in May is another costly affair because the Kalash wear new clothes, drink local wine, and contribute to preparing food for every member of the community.
There is no real government assistance to the Kalash to keep alive their religious and cultural traditions. The Kalash religious elders are paid a measly Rs1800 annually by the government as an upkeep allowance. Government and the non-governmental organisations have executed some development projects in the Kalash valleys, but the impact isn’t deep and sustained.
Another problem is the growing presence of non-locals running hotels and other businesses in the Kalash valleys. As a step towards empowerment of the Kalash and also the local Muslims, only locals should be allowed to establish businesses in the area. The Kalash have no special job quotas and this smallest minority in Pakistan is lumped together with other non-Muslims to unfairly compete for government jobs. They deserve to have special job quotas and educational stipends and their unique way of life and architecturally delightful houses should be preserved.
The road from Chitral town via Ayun to the Kalash valleys ought to be repaired and metalled and guided tours could be arranged for tourists to observe the Kalash culture in an orderly manner. Someone suggested a chairlift could be installed from Ayun to Bamburet on the five kilo9metres distance to enjoy the sights and sounds of these enchanting valleys and generate employment and business opportunities for the Kalash as well as for the Muslims living in the area.
Email: rahimyusufzai@yahoo.com
Source:

No Relief for Kalash in Pakistan’s Valley of Infidels

No Relief for Kalash in Pakistan’s Valley of Infidels

By: Ayaz Gul
ISLAMABAD — 
Years of economic pressures and alleged forced conversions to Islam continue to pose a threat to Pakistan’s tiny Kalash minority, the only pagans in the Islamic republic.
Once a large community that for many centuries ruled the scenic northern Pakistani district of Chitral and adjoining border areas of Afghanistan, the Kalash minority tribe has shrunk to around 4,000 people. They speak the Kalasha language and are now confined to three small valleys (Rumbur, Brumbret and Birir), high up in the Hindu Kush mountains.
Critics say successive Pakistani governments have done little to address the extinction threat to the Kalash and have failed to develop their poverty-stricken area to make it accessible for tourism to boost local economy.
Bleak future, festivals still popular
But despite the challenges, celebration mood and excitement remains undeterred at annual Kalash festivals where men and women, wearing traditional colorful dresses, dance and sing to entertain tourists.
Kalasha women mingle easily with male members of the society and are free to move on to new partners should the new lovers, under local customs, be willing to pay the price.
Such an act is condemned as against family honor in many other parts of Pakistan, where families adhere to a strict religious and cultural code.
A community member, Mohammad Ali, says tourism is now the only source of income for the cash-strapped Kalash families. He cites repeated natural disasters in recent years such as rain-triggered floods and earthquakes that have immensely damaged the centuries old traditional livelihood of livestock and agriculture farming.
“There are no other sources of earning for us but tourism. A large number of our young people are jobless and annually some of them also convert to the Muslim faith [in exchange for jobs],” he said.
Ali complained that absence of a proper road to link the valleys to the rest of the country has over the years discouraged local and foreign tourists to show up in large numbers at their annual festivals. It also makes at extremely difficult for the community to transport patients to hospitals in Chitral for treatment in emergency, he says.
Government says little they can do
Pakistani officials acknowledge the “sorry and sad” situation facing the Kalash and also admit nothing is being done to reverse it.
“A lot of people are leaving their culture and their religion because of a lot of immense social pressure and there are forced conversions,” warns Fouzia Saeed, head of the national institute called Lok Virsa, which focuses on promoting and raising awareness about traditional Pakistani cultures.
Activists and researchers note the Kalash settlements are being rapidly encircled by the growing Muslim population because over the years the improvised pagan community has lost control of large parts of their lands to Muslims through sale or mortgage in exchange for paltry loans.
One God
Community leaders dismiss as “incorrect” many writings on the Kalash culture that suggest the tribe believes in twelve gods and goddesses.
They say the tribe believes in “a single, creative God” and is referred to as Dezauc. But the Kalash does not believe in divine books and messengers. That belief makes them “kafirs” or infidels in the eyes of Muslim communities, say critics, which has triggered the race for converting them to Islam.
Rich Muslim neighbors also keep up the social pressure by offering incentives such as good jobs and better marriage prospects for Kalash girls to encourage conversions, says Saeed.
“I think that this whole focus of a lot of religious groups hovering around them, this whole trend should have been stopped. There should have been a national level responsibility. It is not just the government I think that the whole society does not realize that these are our treasures,” she lamented.
Pakistan has seen a rise in Islamist militancy in recent years and extremist attacks have frequently hit parts of the country. Analysts and even officials admit fears of an Islamist backlash and losing support of religious parties in elections play a role in discouraging political leaders from publicly condemning and speaking against the conversion campaign.
Origin still a mystery
The mystery about the history and origin of the Kalash people, or Kalashas, remains unresolved. While some historians say they are indigenous people, others point to the fair skin, light eyes and brown hair of the Kalash, saying the tribe might have descended from the armies of Alexander the Great, which conquered this area in the fourth century B.C.
The belief in purity and impurity is deeply rooted in the Kalash society. Women are considered “impure” during their menstrual cycle and childbirth, and are not allowed to touch anyone. They are forced to spend their days in an isolated building called Bashali, which is off limits to men, and family members deliver food at the doorstep
There are no routine daily prayers, like the Muslim communities in the valleys. The Kalash do pray whenever they initiate any activities like harvesting, plowing, construction and whenever the favor and honor of Dezau is needed,
The Kalash tribe welcomes local and foreign tourists to their four main seasonal festivals that some observers say mirror the old pagan festivals of Europe. The celebrations involve rituals and sacrifices, dances, songs, feasts and alcohol, which the Kalash brew themselves.
The Kalash break all ties to those who convert to Islam and do not accept them back in the society, nor do they resort to violent means to discourage conversions. Although, abandoning Islam in favor of another religion elsewhere in Pakistan could trigger a fatal mob attack.
Activists also complain the rate of conversions is increasing by the year because in the absence of a curriculum for the minority community in government schools, Kalasha students are forced to opt for Islamic studies.
Critics believe urgent legal and administrative actions are required to effectively document and preserve the Kalash culture and bring investment to the area to improve lives of the pagans and protect them against forced conversions.
Provincial authorities say they plan to convene a donors conference on development projects and persevering the Kalash. The regional government says it will require huge funds because officials are unable to allocate public money with their limited budget.

Source: