Thursday, December 23, 2010

All about the Kalasha Tribe

All about the Kalasha Tribe
The given site can make you known about the Kalasha culture, devalok (pantheon), concept about fairies, festivals and their schedule, birth-marriage and death rituals, burial rituals and some problems regarding the particular tribe. This is the good source to understand the Kalasha music.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Annual Festival of Kalash Community Chomas on its Peak

Annual Festival of Kalash Community Chomas on its Peak

Annual religious festival of Kalash community Chatarmas (Chomas) is being celebrating in three valleys of Kalash community Rumbor, Bumborate and Birir. But the festival is on its peaks these days. The religious festival has been started from December 7 but it will be on its peak on 20, 21 and 22 December Simultaneously in these three valleys. During the annual festival which is celebrating every year in winter season Kalash men and women perform folk dance which is a part of their worship, they sacrifice animals like Muslim sacrificing animal on Eidul Azha and they offer Dua for new year to be good luck for them. Hence during the Chatarmas festival Kalash not allow any Muslim for three days to enter neither the valley nor any Kalsh who coming from outside (other valley) they kill their animal from back side not slaughter them its meat is distributing among them and drink local wine jointly. Hence there are some other mysterious customs, habits, events of Kalsh people which are not performing openly. Hence on the final day of the festival Kalash (Non Muslim) which have very unique culture and rare generation of the world together and perform dance at their dance places. Their men beating drum and their religious leaders which are called Qazi singing religious and historical songs and their relative put rupees note in their cap. They usually appreciating bravely, good works, generously and every notable work of their elders in their songs and other Kalash hailing them. Kalash people celebrating 4 festivals a year and this is the last one of this series. They gathering from each village and performing dance on the beating of drum and forwarding in procession towards dancing place. They also predicted for New Year and consider it a good and pray for carrying happiness for them. At last they presenting very unique performance as well as dancing jointly men and women and praying for New Year and dispersed. A large number of domestic and well as foreign tourists approach the valley to enthrall from these colorful events of very unique and rare nation of the world.

Source:

G. H. Farooqui

http://www.groundreport.com/World/Annual-Festival-of-Kalash-community-Chomas-on-its-/2932182

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Brief Feature about the Kalasha Culture

A Brief Feature about the Kalasha Culture
This feature was published in Cultural Magazine of ECO Cultural Institute in 2007, please read the pages from 103 to 106.

Read at the given link:
http://www.ecieco.org/Portals/ee7fd74a-9a9b-4cb5-bf1b-9f8c85228be0/ECI-07.pdf

Monday, November 29, 2010

INDIGENOUS USE OF NON-TIMBER FOREST PRODUCTS IN KALASH VALLEY CHITRAL, PAKISTAN (A Research Paper on Kalasha Economy)

INDIGENOUS USE OF NON-TIMBER FOREST PRODUCTS IN KALASH VALLEY CHITRAL, PAKISTAN (A Research Paper on Kalasha Economy)
ABSTRACT
Kalash Valley is located in the remote south western part of District Chitral. The area is gifted with unique Cultural and biological diversity. The natural forest of the area mainly consists of Pine (Pinus wallichiana), Chlghoza (Pinus gerardiana) Deodar (Cedrus deodara) and broad leaf species like Oak (Quercus incana). The term Non-timber forest produce encompasses all biological material other then timber that are extracted from the forest for human welfare. Some of the important NTFPs in Kalash Valley Bomburet are Wild mushroom (Morchella esculenta, M. Vulgaris, M. deliciosa) Honey (Apis cerana) Medicinal Plant (Ferula nartex Paeonia emodi, Inula recemosa ) Pine nut (Pinus gerardiana) Silk cocoons and others valuable products. the people of this remote area relies on their indigenous knowledge for collection, packing and drying of these forest products .Most of the local people are depended on these produce for income generation. The present study aims to expose the situation of Non-timber forest produce and future guidelines for proper planning and management.
For Details:

History Still Lives Here (A Feature)

History Still Lives Here (A Feature)
Published by the DAWN Media Group.
Please visit the given link for the feature:
http://www.dawntravelshow.com/styles/eventswebsite/travel/siteimages/specialreport/2010/sp5_2010.pdf

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kalasha: Their Life & Tradition (Book)

Kalasha: Their Life and Tradition (Book) by Akiko Wada
If you want to penetrate into Kalasha valleys (Bumboret, Rumbor, Birir) deep in Hindu Kush Range, I will suggest you Kalasha: Their Life & Tradition. This book is written by Akiko Wada, she is a Japanese lady living in Rumbor valley since 1987; she has adopted the Kalasha religion, married to a Kalasha man (Jama’t Khan). And moreover she is managing an NGO for the welfare of the community.This book is the whole story of the Kalasha culture; this is a pictorial book available from Sang-e-Meel. Lahore.

http://www.box.net/shared/aqspt2b6xs

An e-book on the Kalasha Language (and other languages of Chitral)

Languages of Chitral (Sociolinguistic Survey of Northern Pakistan Volume 5 )

A Research Paper on Anthropology of the Kalasha People of Pakistan

Enclaved knowledge: Indigent and indignant representations of environmental management and development among the Kalasha of Pakistan
By Peter Parkes
University of Kent, Department of Anthropology, United Kingdom
1999
To read or download:
http://www.mtnforum.org/oldocs/102.pdf

A Chapter on the Kalasha Religion

Kalasha Religion by M. Witzel
An article regarding the religion of the Kalasha people of Pakistan, to study click the given link:
http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/KalashaReligion.pdf

A Book on the Kalasha People

Our Women Are Free: Gender and Ethnicity in the Kalash People of Hindukush (Book)

The Kalash are a community of about three thousand people living in three valleys of the foothills of the hindukuhsh mountains near Chitral, Pakistan. A tumultuous history has left them the only remaining practitioners of cultural and religious traditions that once extended across the Hindukush upto Afghanistan. The Kalash differ in many ways from the Muslim communities now surrounding them.
Yet despite their obvious religious differences with nearby communities, when asked what makes the Kalasha unique, both men and women often reply, “Our women are free” (homa istrizia azat asan). The concept that Kalasha women are “free” (azat), that they have “choice” (chit), is a topic of spirited conversation among the Kalasha. It touches at the heart of both individual women’s identities and the collective identity of the community.
Our Women are Free introduces the historical and cultural landscape of the Kalasha and describes the role that “women’s freedom” plays as an ethnic marker for the entire community. Throughout the narrative, Wynne Maggi stays close to conversations and events that illustrate the daily life of the community, focusing particularly on the Kalasha people’s sense of humor; on the pleasure they take in work, children, ritual, and relationships; as well as on the complexity and seriousness of their social lives.
Accessible and thought-provoking, Our Women are Free will be of interest to professional anthropologists, area scholars, and other social scientists.
Wynne Maggi teaches anthropology and women’s studies at the University of Colorado.
To read this book online or to downlaod in pdf format:
http://www.press.umich.edu/pdf/0472097830.pdf

Titan of the Kalash (Feature)


Titan of the Kalash
By Jonathan Foreman
12:01AM BST 28 Jul 2007

The last enclave of pagan tribespeople in remotest Pakistan might already have fallen to the combined ravages of modernity and militant Islam were it not for a redoubtable, eccentric Englishwoman. By Jonathan Foreman. Photographs by Mark Read

The journey to Birir in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan takes you along a terrifying jeep track of 11 hairpin miles. It winds so sharply and narrowly that you can't see more than 100 yards ahead; only extremely skilful drivers can handle the challenge of its crumbling steepness, and every year many people are killed as Jeeps overloaded with timber or passengers or both slide off the edge.
Birir and its two neighbouring valleys nestle below the soaring white walls of the Hindu Kush range, the last strongholds of the Kalash - the 'wearers of black'. The Kalash are the surviving Kafirs of Kafiristan, the 'land of the infidels' made famous by Rudyard Kipling (and then the film director John Huston) in The Man Who Would Be King. For centuries, Kafiristan stretched across Afghanistan and Pakistan; today all that remains is a hill tribe of 3,500 - the only pagans to be found for thousands of miles in any direction.
Many of the Kalash claim descent from the armies of Alexander the Great, and indeed their faces do look strikingly similar to those you would encounter in Croatia or Montenegro. They make wine, revere animals and believe in mountaintop fairies. To observe their lives is to be transported far from today's North-West Frontier, with its increasingly militant, misogynistic brand of Islam, to a world that Homer's contemporaries might have recognised.
Polytheists who divide the world into male and female realms, the Kalash claim they were once a literate culture but their books were burnt long ago by savage tribes. Their religion harks back to ancient fertility cults. Some among them practise an annual rite known as 'budalak', when a teenage boy is selected to go alone into the high forests for almost a year. When he returns on a feast day, he may sleep with any and as many Kalash women as he chooses.
The Kalash have long been so isolated that they are believed by nearby peoples to hibernate like animals. But the rugged remoteness that once protected them is disappearing fast as better roads are built, and Muslim homesteaders from Punjab and elsewhere in Pakistan outnumber the Kalash. The settlers have brought with them mosques, missionaries and a money economy that has landed in deep debt families more familiar with the barter system. It is a familiar story.
With exposure to the electric world of mobile phones, videos and satellite television, the Kalash young yearn for the glamour of life beyond their valleys; and today the Kalash culture is under threat from militant Islam, rapid deforestation, technology and a lethal combination of gullibility and greed among the Kalash themselves. Indeed, it would probably be gone already, were it not for the efforts of an eccentric 69-year-old Englishwoman known locally as 'Bibi Doe'.
For two decades Bibi Doe has raised money for inoculations, fresh-water pipes and bridges. She has driven sick people to the hospital in Chitral and distant Peshawar, where her little NGO paid the bills. It was she who built the first latrines here and brought the first stoves - with help from the British High Commission - so that the women would no longer suffer eye and lung diseases from open fires inside the houses. She opened dispensaries where locals can get aspirin and antibiotics that stop the children dying from fever.
It is hard to believe that anyone could make the journey from Peshawar to Chitral so often - but last October alone Bibi Doe did it 12 times. She regularly puts up with dangers and physical discomforts that would fell a woman half her age. In 1990, for instance, she almost drowned when her Land Cruiser was hit by a flash flood while crossing a river. (She never now wears a seatbelt.)
For Bibi Doe, death threats are a fact of life. She has battled corrupt officials, the frontier timber mafia, Kalash distillers of lethal moonshine liquor, bigoted mullahs, pimps, jihadist militants, insensitive tourists, unscrupulous entrepreneurs, giant aid agencies, foreign academics and do-gooders she considers exploitative. 'If you ever read that I've died in accident,' she said as we loaded up her Land Cruiser before leaving for Birir, 'you'd better come back and investigate what really happened.'
Bibi Doe is named after her favourite Kalash dog - an orphaned pup she adopted in 1986 after its mother was taken by a wolf. The children of the valleys heard her shouting, 'Bibi Doe! Bibi Doe!' as she tramped up and down the trails with a backpack full of medicines. It became their name for her, and then everyone's name for her. When she raised money for the repair of a 1927 suspension bridge across the Chitral river, on which the commerce of the valleys depends, she ensured that a plaque on the bridge read, 'Repaired 2006 by Bibi Doe'.
Before she was adopted by a Kalash family in Birir in 1981, Bibi Doe was known as Maureen Lines. Born in north London to a middle-class family, Lines has over the years been a tourist official in Greece, a taxi driver, a waitress, a domestic in Beirut, a petrol pump attendant and a writer of Gothic novels. She has also written several books about her travels in Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier. Certainly, she never planned to become an aid worker. 'Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be involved in development.'
We were in her little room in Birir, the fire blazing and a gas lamp hissing in the background. She explained that her first memories are of huddling in a Morrison shelter as bombs of the Blitz rained down. An only child (her father worked in radar), her companions growing up were dogs, books and fantasy. She left school at 16 and went to study shorthand and speech at Harrow Tech with hopes of becoming an actress or a journalist. Both dreams dissolved when her mother left her father.
Soon afterwards, Lines ran away and found a job as a waitress at one of the new espresso bars in central London. She then headed to Paris, to sell the Herald Tribune like Jean Seberg in A bout de souffle. In 1961 she emigrated to America. 'It was one of those impulses. I've lived my life on impulses. I was standing at a bus stop in the rain, I'd had a fight with my lover and I was out of work when I saw a sign advertising for "domestics in America". Six months later I was on a ship to New York.'
The job didn't last long and Lines went to work in a coffee shop in Greenwich Village. The beatnik years were in full swing, and for a decade she worked just to pay for partying and studying. First she went to the New School to study journalism and poetry, and then switched to New York University to do international affairs and Arabic. There, she discovered her love of travel and of the Muslim and Arab worlds. In 1964 - before the advent of overland holidays and the hippie trail to India - she hitchhiked from Istanbul to Damascus. 'Everyone said I was a fool and that I'd be murdered or raped. But I never had a problem as a woman,' she said.
Lines had moved back to England when her travels took her to Pakistan and the Kalash valleys for the first time in 1980. It was the end of a voyage taking in Cairo, Khartoum and Bahrain. She and Pakistan got on well immediately. 'Within 24 hours I was on the radio giving my impressions of the country,' she said with a laugh. 'It's been like that ever since.'
Her first contact with a Kalash woman came when Lines was trying to find a route across a fast-flowing stream. A tall, dignified woman - wearing a veil, which was unusual - showed her a place to cross. On her way across the smooth stones, Lines slipped. To her surprise the woman was right behind her and caught her arm. As she did so, her veil slipped and Lines saw that her face was disfigured by a mass of 'pink and black scabs'. A few days later Lines went into Chitral and bought some medicines and took them back to treat the woman.
A year later, she returned to the valleys and managed to secure a permit to stay for a month. It was then that she met Tak-Dira, who adopted Lines and became her 'Kalash mother'. It was during this second stay that Lines resolved to go back to America to gain a medical qualification so she could help the Kalash.
Back in New York she trained as a paramedic, though illness delayed her return to the valleys for four years. Once established, she became a kind of barefoot doctor in hiking boots walking from one village to another, a backpack full of medicine, a dog or two at her side. 'I did 10 to 12 miles a day. I had a ball.' Whenever she could, she 'would literally hijack passing doctors' for medicines.
In 1990 she started her pit latrine and stove projects. The first money she raised came from bake sales and the like at her late mother's home in Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire. But soon she began to raise money from governments and embassies. She found herself spending more and more time in Islamabad talking to diplomats and Pakistani officials, and getting more involved with environmental threats to the Kalash, such as uncontrolled tourism and deforestation.
Three years later, she started her Pakistani NGO, the Kalash Environmental Protection Society (Keps) - and then, in 1995, the British charity that supports it, the Hindu Kush Conservation Association. She became a citizen of Pakistan after one of her 'enemies' in officialdom almost managed to get her deported a few years ago. 'This young man married me and that's how I got my ID card,' she said. 'He's somewhere in England now, I don't know where.'
I had first met Maureen Lines in Chitral in 1994. She had just founded the 'Kalash Guides' to soften the impact of tourism in the valleys. Travellers were encouraged to use the local guides she had trained rather than outsiders from the hotels of Chitral. Lines had had enough of seeing 'Jeeps tear up people's fields' and busloads of tourists surrounding Kalash women as they bathed in the river. The scheme also meant that Kalash families rather than Punjabi carpetbaggers gained some economic benefit from tourism, and ensured that visitors didn't get lost on the mountain trails. I stayed in a guest room of one of the guides in Birir - a fascinating but cold and flea-ridden experiment in medieval living. The guide scheme worked until 9/11 and the Afghan war, which dried up the tourist flood.
Today, Lines is as remarkable, thoughtful and energetic as when I last saw her. She is also tough, cantankerous, slightly deaf and marvellous company. Her no-nonsense approach seems to have neutralised the usual disadvantages of being a woman in one of the most sexually oppressive places in Asia. The North-West Frontier of Pakistan is the most conservative part of a conservative country. In the picturesque bazaars of Chitral town, you are unlikely ever to see a woman. Here, it is said that a woman goes out in public twice in her life: once to leave her father's house for her husband's, the next time to be buried. The contrast with the Kalash valleys could hardly be greater. The first thing you notice in Birir and its sister valleys is the sound and sight of women - ubiquitous, assertive and wearing traditional dress.
There are no hotels in the citadel villages of Birir so Lines invited me to stay with her Kalash family in a room next to their one-storey house, set against the hillside, with its rickety veranda looking down on a grove of trees surrounding a little cemetery. The flat-roofed houses are made of stone, wood and mud to withstand the region's earthquakes. Extended families of 20 or more live together in each house, in a single dark room with an earthen floor.
In the house of Lines's adoptive family, we huddle against the cold around the wood-burning metal stove. We are sitting on low stools made of walnut and animal hide. Lines had brought rice - too expensive for most Kalash - to make a feast, with cooked vegetables and flat bread and a salad of onions and tomatoes. We drank the rough homemade red wine, which tastes a bit like vodka and grape juice. As we ate, Lines chatted in Kalash to Sainusar, Tak-Dira's daughter, in her midforties, and various other family members; a small bulb above us emitted a feeble glow. There is some electricity in the valley - from two small hydro-electric plants. Some of the men went off elsewhere to smoke hashish, a habit introduced by hippie backpackers. But everyone was in bed soon after nightfall.
The next morning, we visited one of Lines's dispensaries in lower Birir. Unlike the government dispensary further up the valley, it is well stocked. One of the problems faced by the Kalash, like so many other remote people in the subcontinent, is that government facilities tend to exist only on paper or to suffer from extreme absenteeism. For instance, there is a government doctor assigned to the Kalash valleys, but he is rarely, if ever, there.
Lines's dispensary is a bare concrete room with a couple of shelves of medications and a ledger. It is maintained by Hassan and Shah Hussein, two voluble young Muslim men from a nearby village. One is a Kalash convert, the other is from one of the families who have moved here from the Punjab and elsewhere in Pakistan.
One of the strange things about morning in Birir is the amplified sound of the muezzin's call to prayer. Though the Pakistani federal government 'genuinely supports freedom of religion', as Lines said, and has long been serious about protecting the Kalash culture, the provincial government is now controlled by the Muslim Fundamentalist party, the MMA, which has strong links to the Taliban across the border, and which disapproves of the infidel presence in their midst.
According to Minocher 'Minoo' Bhandara, a Pakistani MP and former minister for minorities, Muslim families here insist that the families of Kalash brides or grooms also convert, so they don't have to suffer the humiliation of Kafir in-laws. 'A lot of money is exchanged, I believe,' he said. 'They don't convert for any religious or ideological reason - there has to be a financial incentive.'
I spent a further week with Lines in Birir as she visited her various projects in the three valleys: an irrigation project here, a dispensary there, latrine projects everywhere. Though it was cold and she hated the way her knees and back limited her mobility ('I'm worried I won't be able to go up to the high pastures in the spring,' she grumbled), she was ebullient after a successful fundraising dinner in Islamabad and positive meetings with the Kalash Co-ordinating Committee.
Stopping deforestation by what Lines calls 'the timber mafia' takes up an increasing amount of her time. There are very few forests left in Pakistan and there is enough demand to render the antideforestation laws virtually meaningless. Donkeys and overloaded Jeeps carry heavy loads of sweet-smelling cedar and deodar out of the valleys every night. As the forests disappear, flash floods become more and more common. 'The majority of the people' are behind her, Lines said. 'But the big guys in Birir - corrupt Kalash and corrupt Muslims - they don't give a damn. They've got enough money accumulated, they can go some place else after the land has been ruined. The other problem is corruption in the forest service. We had a good guy here but the bearded ones [the Taliban] had him transferred and the wood is now pouring out again.'
Two things ensure that Lines can punch above her weight. She has access to the Pakistani media and a network of supporters in Pakistan and abroad. Among those allies is the railways chief Shakil Durrani, who was the district commissioner in Chitral when Lines first moved to Pakistan, and then the chief secretary of the whole North-West Frontier Province. He found the Kalash fascinating and 'wanted to do my bit to ensure that they remain, not as zoo people but a vibrant living people'. Like many other sympathetic observers, Durrani believes that the Kalash are 'their own worst enemies' with their lawsuits, squabbling disunity and what he calls 'their casual attitude to many things in life, especially money.' Durrani still does what he can to help and is on the board of Keps. At one point, he asked Diana, Princess of Wales, to become a patron of the Kalash. 'She agreed in principle to lend her name,' he told me, though she died before the project came to fruition.
A couple of days into our stay, all work - though not Lines's - came to a halt. An old man had died. The funeral would last for three days, during which time people would walk from all of the valleys to pay their respects. Funerals are expensive for the Kalash, partly because work ceases, but mostly because the bereaved family is expected to sacrifice goats and cows to feed the guests. It is one of the only times that the Kalash eat meat; animals are too valuable to slaughter except on such occasions.
During the funeral, a group of Kalash women formed a semicircle around the corpse - which lay on a bier, covered in gold cloth - and linked arms. They danced around the body while others chanted. You could tell the women from the bereaved family because they were the only women with bare heads (a Kalash woman takes off her headdress only when in mourning). In between the dances, the male elders told the life story of the deceased in a kind of chant. It was an extraordinary spectacle.
After the funeral, I accompanied Lines to Bumburet, the largest and most beautiful of the Kalash valleys, with snow-clad peaks visible at both top and bottom. But there are grubby hotels here and shops and NGO offices, and even satellite dishes on some of the houses. Even with tourism so weak, there are more foreigners here than in the other valleys. When we stopped for tea and some flat bread and goat's cheese, I met an Italian anthropology professor dressed in full shalwar kameez and Chitrali cap, his eyes made up with eyeliner.
Here, a wealthy Greek NGO is building a huge cedar-wood mansion they have called the Kalash House, which will include a museum, school and conference centre. I met Athanasios, the head of the NGO, briefly as he drove out of the valley in his SUV. He has shaggy hair and dark glasses and looks a bit like a 1970s rock star. Lines said that the mansion is 'a monument to his egotism'. At one point, she told me, Athanasios gave what he called a 'scholarship' - in fact a cash gift of 30,000 rupees - to every Kalash family with a child of school age. 'A cash gift. It was the most corrupting thing. Many of the families used the money to buy land.'
She talked a great deal about the 'corruption' of the Kalash. Sometimes she meant it in the literal sense. One of the wealthier Kalash families became so by stealing and selling statues in the valleys. She is greatly concerned by the replacement of the barter system, and the loss of traditional skills, such as shoemaking (the women now wear plastic shoes from Chitral that hurt their feet). Even the education offered here is not entirely a boon, in her opinion. 'Some of the boys speak a few words of English, put on Western clothes and think "Man, I'm cool". They have enough education not to want to work in the fields but not enough to get a job in the world outside.' Education has also undermined the gerontocratic social system of the valleys: young people with a smattering of literacy despise their illiterate parents and long to join the exciting outside world.
Not everyone agrees with Lines that the Kalash culture should be protected from the outside world with its technology and subversive pop culture. Minoo Bhandara, one of Lines's longtime supporters, is adamant that she is wrong about development in the valleys. As he told me in his office in Islamabad, 'She doesn't want hotels. She wants tough roads so people tough it out. She doesn't want too many tourists to contaminate the Kalash. But they are like other ordinary folks: if you ask them what they want most in the world they would say, "a cell phone and a television". The rest of the world has them, why not them?'
But Lines believes that sanitation and education should come before electricity and improved roads. 'They need some knowledge and awareness first. I saw the same thing in Pathan culture when I first came to Pakistan,' she said. 'I was taken to a small village in the tribal areas and they had a refrigerator in the sitting-room but no sanitation, no drinking water, no toilet. They did have electricity.'
Lines is horrified by the money that has been wasted by big aid agencies here. I got some sense of that on the way back to Chitral. We passed several lengths of huge ugly piping, part of a failed water project by the Aga Khan charity AKRSP. It cost nine million rupees (£75,000), but was never finished. Another AKRSP project involved building a road, but 'they put it on the wrong side of the river and it washed away. I've seen so much money wasted here, money which could have helped the people in so many good ways.'
When Lines started her UK charity, a lawyer friend told her to read a biography of Dian Fossey, the murdered American ethologist. 'He told me, "If what you do is not successful you will have no problem, but if you achieve things your life will be miserable." It's an observation that has come true.' Despite her successes - there is hope that Unesco will declare the valleys a heritage site - Lines fears that Kalash culture may disappear entirely within a decade.
Prince Siraj Ulmulk, the owner of the Hindu Kush Heights, a hotel overlooking the Chitral river valley, told me, 'We're so lucky someone like Maureen is giving her time to us. We could never understand why someone would leave a lovely place like England to do this. It's a hell of a lot of work for one person to take on. I just hope she keeps on doing what she's doing.'
'I carry on because of the women,' Lines said. 'People ask, "What made you give up your life to do this?" What is it I've given up? I'm doing exactly what I want to do and the whole way of life here has given me so much. I've had a very rich life.'
Further information: hindukushconservation.com The journey to Birir takes you along one of the most terrifying jeep tracks imaginable. Its 18 hairpin kilometres from the main road to Chitral take an hour and a half, even in good weather. It winds so sharply and narrowly that you can't see more than a hundred yards ahead; only extremely skilful and sober drivers can handle the challenge of its crumbling steepness, and every year many people are killed as jeeps overloaded with timber or passengers or both slide off the edge.
When you finally emerge from the granite canyon into the valley, as it opens to reveal houses, temples and fields clinging to the hillsides, it is an experience not unlike coming upon a fabulous long-hidden ruin in an Indiana Jones epic. The air is clear, filled with the scent of newly cut cedar. The rivers sparkle.
The greenery of the fields, meadows and orchards seems impossibly fresh.
Bihir and its two neighbouring valleys, in this craggy corner of Pakistan's North West Frontier province, nestled below the soaring white walls of the Hindu Kush range, are the last hold-outs of a living ancient culture. They are the remaining strongholds of the Kalasha - the 'wearers of black'.
The Kalasha are the surviving Kafirs of Kafiristan, the legendary 'land of the infidels' made famous by Rudyard Kipling (and then film director John Huston in The Man Who Would Be King. For centuries, Kafiristan stretched across both Afghanistan and Pakistan; today all that remains is a hill tribe of merely 3,500 souls, the only pagans to be found for thousands of miles in any direction.
Many of the Kalasha claim descent from the armies of Alexander the Great and indeed, their faces look strikingly similar to those you would encounter in Split or Montenegro. They make wine, revere animals, and believe in mountaintop fairies. To observe their lives is to be transported far from today's North West Frontier with its increasingly militant, misogynistic brand of Islam to a world that Homer's contemporaries might have recognised. Polytheists who divide the world into male and female realms, the Kalasha claim they were once a literate culture but their books were burned long ago by savage tribes. Their religion harks back to ancient fertility cults. Every year, they practice the rite known as 'budalak'. A teenage boy is selected to go alone into the high forests for almost a year. When he returns on a feast day, he may sleep with any and as many Kalash women as he chooses.
They have long been so isolated and seemed so strange to nearby peoples that they are believed by many to hibernate like animals. But the rugged remoteness that once protected this fascinating culture is disappearing fast, as better roads are built, and Muslim homesteaders from Punjab and elsewhere in Pakistan outnumber the Kalasha in their once inaccessible valleys. The settlers have brought with them mosques, missionaries and a money economy that has landed in deep debt families more familiar with the barter system.
Increasingly exposed to the electric world of mobile phones, videos and even satellite TV, the Kalash young yearn for the glamour of life beyond their valleys.
Having survived for centuries against fearful odds, the Kalash culture, with its links to long lost civilizations, is today under threat from militant Islam, rapid deforestation, technology and a lethal combination of gullibility and greed among the Kalasha themselves. Indeed, it would probably be gone already were it not for the efforts of an eccentric 69-year old Englishwoman known locally as 'Bibi Doe'.
It was she who built the first latrines here and brought the first stoves - with help from the British High Commission - so that the women no longer suffer eye and lung diseases from open fires inside the houses. She opened dispensaries where locals can get aspirin and antibiotics that stop the children dying from fever.
For two decades she has raised money for inoculations, fresh water pipes and even bridges. She has driven sick people to the hospital in Chitral or even distant Peshawar, where her little NGO paid the bills.
Other foreign helpers and NGOs who have come to the Kalash valleys may give away more money, but when there is a real problem - floods washing away the fields and houses, local boys who have fallen into bad company and been arrested in the big city - the people come to Bibi Doe for help. And she always gives it. At one point she went all the way to Kabul to rescue a local boy who had volunteered for Jihad and been captured by coalition soldiers.
It is hard to believe that that a 69-year-old woman with arthritic knees and a bad back could make the journey from her home in Peshawar to Chitral so often - 12 times last October alone - ferrying carloads of medicines up to the valleys and bringing sick people down to the hospital. But Bibi Doe regularly puts up with dangers and physical discomforts that would fell a woman half her age. In 1990 she almost drowned when her Land Cruiser was hit by a flash flood while crossing a river. It's why she never wears a seat belt.
For Bibi Doe, death threats are a fact of life. Over A quarter-century, she has battled corrupt officials, the frontier timber mafia, Kalash distillers of lethal moonshine liquor, bigoted mullahs, pimps, jihadist militants, insensitive tourists, unscrupulous entrepreneurs, giant aid agencies, foreign academics and do-gooders she considers exploitative.
If you ever read that I've died in accident,' she says as we load up her Land Cruiser before leaving for Birir, 'you'd better come back and investigate what really happened.'
She is named after her favourite Kalash dog - an orphaned pup she adopted in 1986 after its mother was taken by a wolf. The children of the valleys heard her shouting out, 'Bibi Doe! Bibi Doe!'
as she tramped up and down the trails with a backpack full of medicines. It became their name for her, and then everyone's name for her, even her own local adoptive family. When she raised money for the repair of a 1927 suspension bridge across the Chitral river, on which the commerce of the valleys depends, she ensured that plaque on the bridge read: 'Repaired 2006 by Bibi Doe'.
All of her projects are small scale enterprises based on requests from the local people, a careful assessment of their impact on the environment and the culture, and on her deep knowledge of the valleys. In general, she provides the materials and expertise in engineering and the recipients are supposed to provide labour.
She doesn't want to deepen the dependency culture fostered by some of the NGOs here. As a result she has won the trust of a Pakistani government that is suprisingly keen to protect the Kalash.
It is difficult to get anything finished in the valleys, and almost everyone she deals with - contractors, government officials, labourers, expects a cut. ('I'm surrounded by dacoits,' she says.) She is proud to say that she has never knowingly paid a bribe in all her years here ('I'm always on my guard'). She also brings to the task an expertise rare in the aid business - years ago, in a different life, she was a contractor herself. In the 1960s, she achieved minor celebrity in New York as the city's first female decorator. 'It was before women's lib and they'd never heard of a woman painting and plastering,' she says.
Before she was adopted by a Kalash family in Bihir in 1981, Bibi Doe was known as Maureen Lines, and her life before she came to live in Bihir was no less extraordinary than it is today. Born in North London to a middle-class family, Lines has over the years been a tourist official in Greece, a taxi driver, a waitress, a domestic in Manhattan and Beirut, a petrol pump attendant, and an author of Gothic novels. She has also written several books about her travels in Afghanistan and the Northwest Frontier. Certainly, she never planned to become any kind of aid worker. 'Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be involved in development.'
Unlike similarly redoubtable women travellers in the Muslim world in 19th and early 20th century, she doesn't come from an aristocratic background.
Nor does she treat travel and living abroad as an opportunity for dressing up 'like the natives'. She prefers to wear a simple shirt and trousers to a shalwar kammez and headscarf. She would never wear the traditional Kalash beaded headdresses and cinched-in black dresses. Her white hair is cut short and neat. She has worn a burqa, when travelling over the passes to and from Afghanistan in the company of Mujahedin fighters, but found it 'horrible, dehumanising'.
Talking to her in her little room in Birir, the fire blazing and a gas lamp hissing in the background, she explains that her first memories are of huddling in a Morrison shelter as bombs of the Blitz rained down. An only child (her father worked in radar) her companions growing up were dogs, books and fantasy. She left school at 16 and went to study shorthand and speech at Harrow Tech with hopes of becoming an actress or a journalist. Both dreams dissolved when her mother left her father. Soon afterwards, Lines ran away and found a job as a waitress at one of the new espresso bars in central London. She then headed to Paris, to sell the Herald Tribune like Jean Seberg in Godard's Au Bout du Souffle. In 1961, she emigrated to America. 'It was one of those impulses. I've lived my life on impulses. I was standing at a bus-stop in the rain, I'd had a fight with my lover and I was out of work when I saw a sign in Knightsbridge advertising for "domestics in America". Six months later I was on a ship to New York.'
The underpaid job didn't last long and Lines went to work in a coffee shop in Greenwich Village. It was the early 60s and the beatnik years were in full spate. For a decade she worked just to pay for partying and studying.
First she went to the New School to study journalism and poetry, and then switched to New York University to do international affairs and Arabic. There, she discovered her love of travel and of the Muslim and Arab worlds. In 1964 - before the advent of overland holidays and the hippie trail to India - she hitchhiked from Istanbul to Damascus. 'Everyone said I was fool and that I'd be murdered or raped. But I never had a problem as a woman,' she recalls.
She had moved back to England when her travels took her to Pakistan and the Kalash valleys for the first time. It was the culmination of a voyage taking in Cairo, Khartoum and Bahrain. She and Pakistan got on well immediately.
'Within 24 hours I was on the radio giving my impressions of the country,' she laughs. 'It's been like that ever since.'
She remembers her first contact with a Kalash woman. Lines was trying to find a route across a fast flowing stream when a tall, dignified kalash woman showed her a place to cross. Unusually the woman was veiled. On her way across the smooth stones Lines slipped. To her surprise the woman was right behind her and caught her arm. The veil slipped and Lines saw that her face was disfigured by a mass of 'pink and black scabs'. A few days later Lines went into Chitral and bought some medicines and brought them back to treat the woman.
A year later, Lines returned to the valleys and managed to secure a permit to stay for a month. It was then that she met her Tak-Dara, who adopted Lines and became her 'Kalash mother'. But her visit began awkwardly when she blundered into the grounds of a Bashali or women's house - where the Kalash women must live when menstruating or pregnant. Because she left the building without changing her clothes, a valuable goat had to be sacrificed.] It was during this second stay that Lines resolved to go back to America and get a medical qualification so she could help the Kalash.
Back in New York she trained as a paramedic, though illness delayed her return to the valleys for four years. Once established she became a kind of barefoot doctor in hiking boots walking from one village to another, a backpack full of medicine, a dog or two at her side. 'I did 10 to 12 miles a day. I had a ball.' Whenever she could, she 'would literally hijack passing doctors' for medicines.
In 1990, she started her pit latrine and stove projects - both of which grew naturally out of her medical work. The first money she raised came from bake sales and the like at her late mother's home in Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire. Soon, she began to receive money from governments and embassies. She found herself spending more and more time in Islamabad talking to diplomats and Pakistani officials, and getting more involved with environmental threats to the Kalash, like uncontrolled tourism and deforestation.
Three years later, she started her Pakistani NGO - the Kalash Environmental Protection Society - and then, in 1993, the British charity that supports it, the Hindu Kush Conservation Association. She became a citizen of Pakistan after her one of her 'enemies' in officialdom almost managed to get her deported a few years ago. 'This young man married me and that's how I got my ID card, she says. 'He's somewhere in England, now, I don't know where. It's a real soap opera.'
I first met Maureen Lines in Chitral in 1994. She had just founded the 'Kalash Guides' to soften the impact of tourism in the valleys. Travellers were encouraged to use the local guides she had trained rather than outsiders from the hotels of Chitral. Lines had had enough of seeing 'jeeps tear up people's fields' and busloads of tourists surrounding Kalash women as they bathed in the river. The scheme also meant that Kalash families rather than Punjabi carpetbaggers gained some economic benefit from tourism, and ensured that visitors didn't get lost on the mountain trails. I stayed in a guest room of one of the guides in Birir - a fascinating but cold and flea ridden experiment in medieval living. The guide scheme worked until 9/11 and the Afghan war, which dried up the tourist flood.
Today, Lines is as remarkable, thoughtful, and --- energetic as when I last saw her - she is also tough, cantankerous, slightly deaf and marvellous company. Her no-nonsense approach seems to have neutralised the usual disadvantages of being a woman in one of the most sexually oppressive places in Asia. The North West Frontier of Pakistan is the most conservative part of a conservative country. In the picturesque Bazaars of Chitral town, you are unlikely ever to see a womaN. Here, an adult female goes out in public twice in her life: once to leave her father's house for her husband's, the next time to be buried.
The contrast with the Kalash valleys could hardly be greater. The first thing you notice in Birir or its sister valleys is the sound and sight of women - ubiquitous, assertive and wearing traditional dress.
There are no hotels in the citadel villages of Birir so Lines invites me to stay with her Kalash family in a room next to their one story house set against the hillside, with its rickety veranda looking down on a grove of trees surrounding a little cemetery.
(Until very recently the Kalash always put their dead into open coffins above ground; these days they often bury corpses to prevent grave robbery. All the carved wooden equestrian figures that once decorated their cemeteries have been stolen or sold.) The flat roofed Kalash houses are made of stone, wood and mud, and withstand the region's earthquakes much better than modern concrete buildings.
Extended families of 20 or more live in the houses, with each married couple and their children occupying a single dark room with an earthen floor.
In the house of Lines' adoptive family, we huddle against the cold around the wood-burning metal stove. We are sitting on low stools made of walnut and animal hide - the Kalash are one of the few peoples of the subcontinent who don't sit on the floor. As we eat and Maureen chats away in Kalash to Sainusar, a woman in her forties, (and the daughter of Lines' blood sister) and various other family members, a small bulb above us emits a feeble glow. There is some electricity in the valley - from two small hydroelectric plants - but it is weak and is one reason why, as Lines explains, the technology craved by the young cause such problems here: 'There isn't enough current to run both a TV and light for the rest of the family.'
Lines has brought rice - too expensive for most Kalash - making for a feast, with cooked vegetables and flat bread and a salad of onions and tomatoes. We drink the rough homemade red wine, which tastes a bit like vodka and grape juice, but it does the trick.
Some of the men go off elsewhere to smoke hashish, a habit introduced by hippie backpackers. But everyone is in bed soon after nightfall.
Later that night as I stumble through the half-frozen mud from the latrine it seems all the more amazing to me that Lines - who is personally fastidious to the point of suffering from a mild phobia about dirt - has made her home among these people, who for all their charm do not value cleanliness highly.
Her life here is a Spartan one, unlike that of so many aid workers here and around the world. 'I couldn't live in area like this and live in luxury, even if I could afford it,' she says. 'If you are going to work for the people you have to live the same way.'
The next morning, we visit one of Maureen's dispensaries in lower Birir. Unlike the government dispensary further up the valley, it is well stocked.
One of the problems faced by the Kalash valley, like so many other remote places of the subcontinent, is that government facilities tend to exist only on paper or to suffer from extreme absenteeism. For instance, there is a government doctor assigned to the Kalash valleys, but he somehow collects his salary without having to endure months in a remote place among strange and primitive people.
The dispensary is just a bare concrete room with a couple of shelves of medications and a ledger. It is maintained by Hassan and Shah Hussein, two voluble young Muslim men from a nearby village. One is a Kalash convert, the other is from one of the families who have moved here from the Punjab and elsewhere in Pakistan. Maureen has found that Muslims of the valleys are much more likely to turn up to work. The Kalash for all their charm and humour are apparently not an entrepreneurial or hardworking people.
One of the strange things about morning in Birir is the amplified sound of the muezzin's call to prayer. As Lines says, 'If I'm in the Middle East or even Peshawar and I hear the Azzam, I like it; if I'm in the Kalash valleys it grates like chalk on a blackboard.' Indeed Islam sometimes feels like a colonial presence here, with mosques built in all the Kalash villages. Though the Pakistani federal government 'genuinely supports freedom of religion', as Lines says, and has long been serious about protecting the Kalash culture, the provincial government is now controlled by the Muslim Fundamentalist party, the MMA, which has strong links to the Taliban across the border. 'The Bearded Ones', as more secular minded Pakistani's call them, disapprove of the infidel presence in their midst.
According to Minoo Bhandara, a Pakistani MP and former minister for minorities, Muslim families here insist that the families of Kalash brides or grooms also convert, so they don't have to suffer the humiliation of kafir in-laws.
'A lot of money is exchanged, I believe,' he explains. "They don't convert for any religious or ideological reason - there has got to be a financial incentive.'
Though the Kalash population has increased from 2,500 ten years ago to 3,500 today, thanks to improvements in child mortality (a development for which Lines is in part responsible), the conversion rate means that they remain in danger of extinction.
I spend a further week with Lines in Birir as she visits her various projects in the three valleys: an irrigation project here, a dispensary there, latrine projects everywhere. Though it's cold and she hates the way her knees and back limit her mobility ('I'm worried I won't be able to go up to the high pastures in the Spring,' she grumbles) she is ebullient after a successful fundraising dinner in Islamabad and positive meetings with the Kalash Coordinating Committee. The Australians, Brits and Finns are her best supporters.
Stopping deforestation by the 'timber mafia' takes up an increasing amount of her time. There are very few forests left in Pakistan and there's enough demand to render the anti-deforestation laws virtually meaningless. Donkeys and overloaded jeeps carry heavy loads of sweet smelling cedar and deodar out of the valleys every night. As the forests disappear, flash floods become more and more common. 'The majority of the people' are behind her, Lines says. 'But the big guys in Birir, corrupt Kalash and corrupt Muslims, they don't give a damn.
They've got enough money accumulated, they can go some place else after the land has been ruined. The other problem is corruption in the forest service. We had a good guy here but the bearded ones had him transferred and the wood is now pouring out again.'
Two things ensure that Lines can punch above her weight. She has access to the Pakistani media and a network of supporters in Pakistan and abroad. Some of them are unlikely figures, like the police special branch officers who stood by her when her political enemies tried to get her arrested and deported three years ago.
Among those allies is Railways chief Shakil Durrani, who was district commissioner in Chitral when Maureen first came, and then chief secretary of the whole North West Frontier Province. He found the Kalash fascinating and 'wanted to do my bit to ensure that they remain, not as zoo people but a vibrant living people'. Like many other sympathetic observers, Durrani believes that the Kalash are 'their own worst enemies' with their lawsuits, squabbling disunity, and what he calls 'their casual attitude to many things in life, especially money.'
DURRANI still does what can to help and is on the board of KEPS. At one point, he asked Diana, Princess of Wales, to become a patron of the Kalasha. 'She agreed in principle to lend her name,' he says, though she died before the project came to fruition.
A couple of days into our stay in Birir, all work - though not Lines' - comes to a halt. An old man has died. The funeral will last for three days during which time people will walk from all of the valleys to pay their respects.
Funerals are expensive for the Kalash - partly because all work ceases but mostly because the bereaved family is expected to sacrifice goats and cows to feed all the guests. It's one of the only times that the Kalash eat meat - animals are too valuable to slaughter except on such occasions. In any case the Kalash have an almost Buddhist reverence for living things.
Aside from snakes and scorpions, the one species that the Kalash abhor is the chicken. Their oral tradition holds that the Kalasha will disappear if chickens are brought into their valleys. Sad to say, their Muslim neighbours have done just that.
The highlight of the funeral comes when a group of Kalash women form a semi circle around the corpse - which LIES on a bier, covered in gold cloth, for the entire period of the ceremony - and link arms. Then they dance around the body while other women chant. You can tell the women from the bereaved family because they are the only females with bare heads (a Kalash woman only takes off her headdress when in mourning). In between the dances, the male elders take turns telling the life story of the deceased in a kind of chant. It is a truly extraordinary spectacle.
After the funeral, I accompany Lines to Bumburet. It is the largest and most beautiful of the Kalash valleys, with snow-clad peaks visible at both top and bottom. But there are grubby hotels here and shops and NGO offices, and even satellite dishes on some of the houses. Even with tourism so weak, there are more foreigners here than in the other valleys. When we stop for tea and some flat bread and goat's cheese - Lines has hyperglycemia - I meet an Italian anthropology professor dressed in full shalwar kameez and chitrali cap, his eyes made-up with eyeliner.
Here, a wealthy Greek NGO is building a huge cedar wood mansion they have called the Kalash House which will include a museum, school and conference centre. I meet Athanasios, head of the Greek NGO briefly as he drives out of the valley in his SUV. He has shaggy hair and dark glasses and looks a bit like a Seventies' rock star. Lines says the mansion is a monument to his egotism. At one point, she tells me, Athanasios gave what he called a 'scholarship', in fact a cash gift of 30,000 rupees, to every kalash family with a child of school age. 'A cash gift. It was the most corrupting thing,' she shouts over the noise of the Land Cruiser as it bounces down the jeep track. 'Many families used the money to buy land.' Increasingly the Kalasha see all western outsiders as a source of easy money.
She talks a great deal about the 'corruption' of the Kalash. Sometimes she means it in the literal sense. One of the wealthier Kalash families became so by stealing and selling statues in the valleys. She is greatly concerned by the replacement of the barter system, and the loss of traditional skills, like shoemaking (the women now wear plastic shoes from Chittral that hurt their feet.) Even the education offered here is not entirely a boon in her opinion. 'Some of the boys speak a few words of English, put on western clothes and think "Man, I'm cool". They have enough education not to want to work in the fields but not enough to get a job in the world outside. The girls want easy money and so they become prostitutes.' Education has also undermined the gerontocratic social system of the valleys: young people with a smattering of literacy despise their illiterate parents and long to join the exciting world outside.
Not everyone agrees with Lines that the Kalash culture should be protected from the outside world with it's technology and subversive pop culture.
Minoo Bandhara, a Pakistani MP and one of Lines' longtime supporters, is adamant that she is wrong about development in the valleys, though he too thinks the Greek mansion in Bumburet is 'horrendous'. As he tells me in his office in Islamabad, 'She doesn't want hotels. She wants tough roads so people tough it out.
She doesn't want too many tourists to contaminate the Kalash. But they are like other ordinary folks: if you ask them what they want most in the world they would say, "a cell phone and a television". The rest of the world has it, why not them?'
Unlike some of the aid agencies here, Lines believes that sanitation and education should come before electricity and improved roads. 'They need some knowledge and awareness first. I saw the same thing in Pathan culture when I first came to Pakistan,' she says. 'I was taken to a small village in the tribal areas and they had a refigerator in the sitting room but no sanitation, no drinking water, no toilet. But they did have electricity.'
Lines is horrified by the money that has been wasted by big aid agencies here, and by the corruption that accompanies so many projects. When the Canadian government was interested in building a school in Bumburet in the 1990s she advised them to rent a building for the school instead. 'I knew where the money would go,' she says.
I get some sense of what she means on the way back to Chitral when we pass several lengths of huge ugly piping. It is a failed water project by the Agha Khan charity AKSP. It cost nine million rupees (£75,000), but was never finished. Another AKSP project involved building a road, but 'they put it on the wrong side of the river and it washed away. I've seen so much money wasted here, money which could have helped the people in so many good ways.'
When Lines first started her UK charity, a lawyer friend told her to read a biography of Dian Fossey, the murdered American ethologist. 'He told me: "If what you do is not successful you will have no problem, but if you achieve things your life will be miserable." It's an observation that has come true.'
The frustrations are huge, and growing. Some of the Kalash that Lines trained to be guides ended up as criminals or exploiting their own people. Despite her successes - there is hope that Unesco may declare the valleys a heritage site - Lines fears that Kalash culture may disappear entirely within a decade.
The owner of the Hindu Kush Heights, a hotel overlooking the Chitral river valley, Prince Siraj al Mulk, tells me: 'We're so lucky someone like Maureen is giving her time to us. We could never understand why someone would leave a lovely place like England to do this. It's a hell of a lot of work for one person to take on. I just hope she keeps on doing what she's doing.'
'I carry on because of the women,' Lines sighs. 'People ask what made you give up your life to do this. What is it I've given up? I'm doing exactly what I want to do and the whole way of life here has given me so much. I've had a very rich life here.' She looks out over the valley, then steps over the lintel into her little house where Sinusai is smiling at her and smoothing out dough on the top of the once shiny stove.
For more details about the Hindu Kush Conservation Association and the Kalash Environmental Protection Society see www.hindukushconservation.com

Capturing Kalash Culture

Capturing Kalash Culture
This is an on-line article on the Kalasha people of Pakistan:
http://www.heritage.com.pk/culture/regional/capturing-kalash-culture/

Nature in the Kalasha Perception of Life

Nature in the Kalasha Perception of Life
If you are interested in anthropological study of the Kalasha tribe, you must read Nature in the Kalasha Perception of Life by Birgitte Glavind Sperber. In fact it is a chapter of book named Asian perceptions of nature: a critical approach edited by: Ole Bruun and Arne Kalland. This book was published by Routleged in 1995. To read the article please click the link:
http://books.google.com.pk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=N41hm8YuVPQC&oi=fnd&pg=PA126&dq=kalash+culture&ots=QdyqhT2odQ&sig=i4hcKSZst0gdYVcm7nUvMMXOiGk#v=onepage&q=kalash%20culture&f=false

Monday, October 11, 2010

Interview of Lakshan Bibi

Interview of Lakshan Bibi
I am here sharing an interview of Lakshan Bibi who is spokesperson of the Kalasha community; she is running an NGO named Kalasha Indigenous Survival Program (KISP). She belongs to Rumbor Valley but permanently she stays at federal capital; Islamabad.
A majority of the Kalasha people don’t like her as they think that Lakshan Bibi is not participating in the welfare of their people, she is just building Jastakhans (temples). There are as many temples in all three Kalasha valleys and people need schools, dispensaries rather than more Jastakhans. More, the local people think that she is not promoting their culture as she lives in Islamabad, she does not perform dance in the Kalasha festivals, she does not spend her menstrual cycle in the Bashali (a isolated home outside the village on the bank of river.) etc.
Anyhow these are the views of the local people from all three valleys; Bumboret, Rumbor and Birir.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Indigenous Kalasha Food: The Walnut Bread

The Kalasha people are indigenous and pagan people of Pakistan; they have their distinctive religion and culture. They are exercising their centuries old traditions in modern era. If you really a lover of primitive tribal life you must visit the Kalasha people and their society.
The Kalasha people have their own indigenous recipes of different dishes and breads. They have two major types of bread; wheat bread and walnut bread. The wheat bread is used in daily life while walnut bread is baked on special occasion like festivals, on death, birth or on the arrival of some special guests.
I am sharing here the video of Making of Walnut Bread.
Wallnut Bread of the Kalasha Part I
Wallnut Bread of the Kalasha Part II
Wallnut Bread of the Kalasha Part III
Wallnut Bread of the Kalasha Part IV

Wallnut Bread of the Kalasha Part V

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Essay on the Kalasha Language

An Essay on the Kalasha Language entitled, Retroflex Vowels and other Peculiarities in the Kalasha Sound System by Jan Heegard and Ida Elisabeth Morch.
You can read on-line now:
http://books.google.com.pk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=gdqy7PKHUXQC&oi=fnd&pg=PA57&dq=kalasha+society&ots=t9NxbvjQpY&sig=2L5lxtKO-_bnJ4DrCet4lNWaDVM#v=onepage&q=kalasha%20society&f=false

A PhD Thesis on the Kalasha Language

A PhD Thesis on the Kalasha Language entitled, Local case-marking in Kalasha by Jan Heegård Petersen. This thesis was submitted in 2006 to Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics University of Copenhagen for Doctoral Degree. This is the ever best effort regardind dig-out the facts of the Kalasha language.
For on-line study or to download in PDF format please log-on to:
http://www.sasnet.lu.se/kalashalanguage.pdf

An on-line Book on the Kalasha Regarding Change in Society & Natural Resources

The Title of book is Natural Resources and Cosmology in Changing Kalasha Society by Mytte Fentz. The Title denotes that this book deals with natural resources of the valley and change in the society.

On-line book is available on:

http://books.google.com.pk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=3M5xl8xJ4BcC&oi=fnd&pg=PA5&dq=kalasha+culture&ots=Yys5N7L8EB&sig=oU58ufeXBKVxEMjq0fEMtCeRorU#v=onepage&q=kalasha%20culture&f=false

Friday, July 30, 2010

The old-dates Method of Grinding the Grains in Kalasha Valleys

This is the cyber era-we are observing-the world has been changed at extent level, and it is the era of machines. We have modern machines and instruments in our lives. These machines have made our lives easier compare to our ancestors.
But, in this cyber era, there is a community, living in northern Pakistan, living in ‘back dates’. They have their indigenous culture & way of life. This community is the Kalasha of Hindu Kush Range; the Kalasha people are exercising very old way of life. They still have barter system alive with them.
Even today they people (the Kalasha people) grind their grains with Stone Grinding Mills on the banks of streams. The man, history told, is being used millstone since Neolithic Era, so the Kalasha are still using millstone powered by water stream under it.

I am, here, sharing two images of millstone/stone grinding mill/water mill (panchakki in Urdu) and a video clip.


Stone Grinding Mill (Image I)



Stone Grinding Mill (Image II)



Stone Grinding Mill (Video Clip)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Kalasha Web Directory

As we know that the Kalasha tribe is an endangered tribe, it is need of hour to promote the particular society. But here I would love to preserve the Kalasha culture and society on-line. I would love to prepare Web Directory of Kalasha Tribe; if you have a good source please let me know I will post it with your name.
Drop an email at: abufeeman@gmail.com

  • http://kalashapeople.org/, this site will give a look about the Kalasha society like culture, education, festivals etc., and some new updates.

  • The given site can make you known about the Kalasha culture, devalok (pantheon), concept about fairies, festivals and their schedule, birth-marriage and death rituals, burial rituals and some problems regarding the particular tribe. This is the good source to understand the Kalasha music. http://www.site-shara.net/_kalasha/eflm-kalasha.html

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Kalasha Dance; The Dance to Please gods (Video)

The Kalasha people of Pakistan are fond of dance; the dance is somehow their religious ritual as well as cultural trait.
They just seek chances of dancing and singing. They have four major festivals in a year: Joshi (May), Uchaw (August), Poh/Pul (September) and Chaumas (December). In all these festival they offer sacrifices, dance and sing songs.

The posted dance was recorded during my field research in Rumbor Valley in August, 2007.

A Kalasha Baby (With centuries ago tradition)



This picture is of a Kalasha baby, the Kalasha tribe is a pagan tribe of Pakistan; the sole pagan tribe living in Pakistan. Once the population of the Kalasha tribe was about 10,000 in 1950's but now their population is just about 4000. It is an endangered tribe, to be vanquished.
In three Kalasha Valleys (Bumboret, Rumbor & Birir) you may observed centuries old traditions. The people still are observing their indigenous culture. The Kalasha boys are kept naked for two years and then they are dressed on kameez (shirt) up to the age of five years. And after five years a ritual is done and all mamagans (uncles) gathered and then boy baby is given a shalwar (pants) to wear. But in the case of girl, she is dressed on full dress but not Susut; the head-gear which is given her to at the age of five and then she is considered the member of the Kalasha tribe.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

M.phil Thesis on the Kalasha Tribe of Pakistan

With the ALLAH’s grace I have completed my M.Phil thesis on the Kalasha tribe of Pakistan, the title of thesis is 'Cultural Transitions in the Kalasha Valleys (1947-2007)'.
The abstract of thesis is as:

ABSTRACT

This study is to explore the origin and growth of cultural transitions in the Kalasha Valleys (Bumboret, Rumbor and Birir) particularly the Kalasha tribe which is one of the oldest civilization and culture in Pakistan.
Kalasha tribe in the Kalasha Valleys is passing through a very critical phase of its transition. This transition is not only towards modernism but also cultural and religious landscape is changing quickly because its inhabitants are embracing Islam. The present author strongly feels that if ongoing process of conversion of the Kalasha inhabitants continues it may result in vanquishing of old religion and culture in the Kalasha tribe. Therefore this research focuses on the modern history of the Kalasha tribe during 1947 to 2007. It raises a number of questions regarding status of the Kalasha tribe in Pakistan in modern time.

The thesis contains four chapters:


  1. Historical Survey of the Kalasha (Ancient time to 2007)

  2. Kalasha Culture an Overview: Origin and Development (Before the Creation of Pakistan)

  3. Transition in the Kalasha Culture in Pakistan (1947 to 2007)

  4. The Implications of the Cultural Transition in the Kalasha Valleys for Pakistan

Dedication
I dedicate this research work to an unending love of my Mother & an unending struggle of my (Late) Father. (May His Soul Rest In Peace. Ameen)

It was my mother who encouraged me for study. When I could not pass my Matriculation in 1994 (Math paper) and I was quitting my studies (considering that I could not sail through the Math paper), timely encouraging insistence from my Lovely Mother (A Kiss on your feet Mom) made me to reappear in the examination. With her prayers on my back coupled with my own hard strive I cruised through the matriculation examination, though securing only 40% marks yet it opened the door of social sciences for me. I did intermediate and graduation in history. Then I earned my Masters Degree in Pakistan Studies form University of the Punjab. I still remember my university days of my Masters Program. Sometimes when I recall the hardships of those days I could not stop my tears. It was when I was unable to pay the university dues. My dear mother (Love you Mom) in order to arrange my fees sold her gold ear-rings. In next semester she decided to sell Sony TV set (of 21``). And I never disappointed my Mother; I secured first position in the Masters programme in University of the Punjab.
After having Masters Degree from a reputed university I decided to take admission for the M.Phil in history. Meanwhile I got married and become a father of a son. I was still the poor son of my poor but proud mother who till then not only arranged my education dues but also took care of my wife and son.
I was the first boy of the family who earned a Graduation Degree; university education was still the myth in my family. Despite my poor background financially and educationally I did what only .5 percent (point five percent) people achieve in my country, the M.phill degree. And it was all because of strenuous labor of my dear and noble mother her prayers and timely encouragement. In fact she had a dream to be a teacher in her life. But for certain reasons she could not, rather she devoted her life for me. Now Alhamdulilah, I am a faculty member of public sector university in Pakistan.
“MaaN Gee (Mother) you are really great, I have no words to thanks I can just Kiss on you feet. I Love You.”)