Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ayun and Valleys Development Program (AVDP) to develop Kalasha Neighborhood

Ayun and Valleys Development Program (AVDP) to develop Kalasha Neighborhood
CHITRAL (Dardistan Times) — Kalasha activists have been concerned about their cultural revival and protection for a long time, along with demands for developmental projects from government, local and international community.

The Kalasha community seemed shattered during last year’s torrential rains that hampered their life. The valleys are facing dire challenges including poverty, illiteracy, health and hygiene issues and ecological hazards.

But there are organizations that the community confides in for initiatives that may transform their lives while protecting their identity and cultural heritage.

When we heard of such an organization whose sole mandate is to develop these valleys, our senior Journalist, G.H Farooqui made arrangements to see folks associated with the organization to dig out more about their endeavours.

It was interesting to know that AVDP has been so successful to team up with the community for social and developmental change. They are spending millions to develop Ayun and Kalash Valleys. They are working in a number of areas including health, education, cultural preservation and infrastructure development. The organization has got into 45 different projects, spending more than 400 million rupees in the area.

“We have teamed up with about 108 civil society organizations to implement various projects for the development of the area. We build protective walls, construct community and public washrooms, train community members, pave the bumpy streets, work for clean water and sanitation in Rumbore, Birrir and Bumborat”, told Abdul Majeed Qureish head of the organization.

The organization is working with communities of diverse backgrounds through its participatory approach of development. AVDP has trained about 60 community members in livestock management. They have facilitated several irrigation channels, street pavements, and sanitation projects. They told us that some 457 community members have been trained in health and hygiene.

The head of the organization also disclosed that some 17 deserving students have been given scholarships by Hashoo Foundation on their recommendations.

The organization was established in April 2006 under company act with a vision to network with civil society partners for socio-economic change in the Kalasha Valleys.

The organization appealed to the national and international funding agencies to take interest in developing the unique and wonderful Kalasha Community. (DT)

G.H.Farooqui, has contributed to this story from Chitral, Pakistan

The Kalasha Language at Risk

The Kalasha Language at Risk
PESHAWAR: When Mohammad Sat Sayeed died in Kalkatak Village in southern Chitral a few years back, an entire dialect died with him. The last words uttered by the native Kalasha language speaker were Sayeed’s familiar loud prayer, “O mi ganah xaudai mi nauf keri,” or, “Oh my God forgive me.”In his 2009 book “Kalkatak: A Crossroad of Cultures in Chitral”, Fakhruddin Akhundzada notes that the Kalasha language is nearly extinct in nearby villages except for a few elderly people who are hesitant to speak it in front of outsiders. The language traces its roots to the historical Kafiristan, now Nuristan Province in Afghanistan, and was stigmatised as a ‘non-Muslim language’ by some.
This illustrates the threat faced by the rare languages of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), where 26 of 69 Pakistani languages are spoken.
These native language communities are small, and scattered across inhospitable terrain and are facing threats from globalisation and language hegemony.
These small languages are ignored in the national language discourse. The insurgency in the region further dealt a blow to these languages, as the only institution conducting research on the subject, Forum for Language Initiatives (FLI), shifted its offices from Peshawar to Islamabad due to security reasons a few years back.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Interactive Atlas of World’s Languages in Danger 2009 says that the languages face extinction due to the monopoly of major languages and lack of documentation and preservation on the part of the concerned authorities.
The UNESO Atlas classifies at least 27 Pakistani languages as endangered and 18 out of these are native to K-P, Fata and G-B.
UNESO classifies severely endangered languages as, “Spoken by grandparents and older generations, while the parent generation may understand it but doesn’t speak it with children or among themselves.”
These endangered languages are no longer learnt by children as a mother tongue at home, while vulnerable languages, though spoken by most children, are often restricted to the home.
FLI, an initiative to promote and preserve indigenous languages, lists 26 languages spoken across K-P and northern Pakistan.
Chitral District, with a population of around 500,000, hosts 12 of these languages. Renowned Norwegian linguist George Morgenstierne noted that the Chitral was one of the most linguistically diverse regions of the world.
Mohammad Pervesh Shaheen, a linguist based in Swat said, “Languages are the limbs of humanity and when a language goes extinct, a nation’s culture, history, folklore, civilization and knowledge go with it.”
“There is a Hadith in which the Prophet Mohammad (SAW) says, ‘If you want to save yourself from the mischief of a nation, learn its language,’ and we are forgetting our own,” he added.
Last year, the K-P assembly passed a bill allowing primary education to be imparted using any of eight languages native to the province. Hopefully, this and other similar measures can lead to the promotion of endangered dialects and save these languages from the Sword of Damocles hanging over them.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2011.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Indo-Aryan Languages (Book)

The Indo-Aryan Languages
By George Cardona, Dhanesh Jain

The Indo-Aryan languages are spoken by at least 700 million people throughout India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldive Islands. They have a claim to great antiquity, with the earliest Vedic Sanskrit texts dating to the end of the second millennium B.C. With texts in Old Indo-Aryan, Middle Indo-Aryan and Modern Indo-Aryan, this language family supplies a historical documentation of language change over a longer period than any other subgroup of Indo-European.
This volume is divided into two main sections dealing with general matters and individual languages. Each chapter on the individual language covers the phonology and grammar (morphology and syntax) of the language and its writing system, and gives the historical background and information concerning the geography of the language and the number of its speakers.

Chapter twenty two (pp 905-990) is related to Dardic languages and the Kalasha language is fall in Dard group of the languages. This chapter is written by Elena Bashir.

The Kafirs of the Hindu Kush: art and society of the Waigal and Ashkun Kafirs (Book)

The Kafirs of the Hindu Kush: art and society of the Waigal and Ashkun Kafirs
By Max Klimburg

The study deals with the pre-Islamic culture of two linguistically close ethnic groups who live in NE-Afghanistan in the Hindukush region once known as Kafiristan, but renamed as Nuristan after its Islamization in 1896. The author was able to conduct extensive field research which enabled him to reconstruct for the first time the Kafir culture of the two groups in all its essential aspects. He discusses the former religious and socio-political concepts with their belief systems and rituals, social ranks, feasts of merit, hero cults etc. The main focus of the study, however, is on the arts which flourished mostly in socially meaningful wood carvings, and which had survived Islamization and the trade in ethnographic art until the 1970s. The many Kafir artefacts of each stylistic subregion are presented in a relative chronological order and interpreted as far as possible. Far reaching changes in the period styles betray major shifts in the Kafir culture shortly before its forcible end one century ago. "Un ouvrage donc, au propre et au figure, de poids et de prix, donnant un tableau tres complet du Kafirstan et des Kafirs d''avant la conquete. Magnifiquement illustre, le corpus rassemble dans le volume de planches est unique et presque exhaustif. Il est un hommage a un art du bois exceptionnel, dont les uvres sont helas condamnees a la dilapidation et au pillage qui accompagnent la guerre civile afghane." L''Homme "His book is of course indispensable for anyone with a scholarly interest in the Hindu Kush and neighbouring areasa" Folk . (Franz Steiner 1999)
Volume I

Volume II

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

Our Women Are Free: Gender and Ethnicity in the Hindukush
By Wynne R. Maggi

The Kalasha are a dynamic community of about three thousand people living in three tiny finger valleys near Chitral, Pakistan. A tumultuous history has left them the only remaining practitioners of cultural and religious traditions that once extended across the Hindukush into Afghanistan. The Kalasha differ in many ways from the conservative 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.
The wonderful thing about this book is that, while covering all the scholarly, academic bases, Maggi also manages to be warm and funny and show tremendous affection for her subjects. She writes beautifully, tells wonderful stories, and both she and her Kalasha subjects are delightful company. Reading this book makes you want to (a) travel to Kalashadesh and get to know these folks yourself, (b) become an anthropologist yourself, (c) hang out with Wynne Maggi and listen to more of her stories and insights, or (d) all of the above.The Kalasha live in the mountains of northern Pakistan and have retained much of their ancient culture and pagan religious beliefs despite being surrounded by Islam for centuries. One of the crucial ways they distinguish themselves from their neighbors is through their belief that "our women are free", and Maggi sets out to examine what they mean by that. She looks at the work Kalasha women do and its importance to the community. She explains how Kalashadesh is divided between "ongesta" (pure) and "pragata" (impure) areas and how women tend to those shifting boundaries. She describes their distinctive fashion, their marriage customs (especially the tradition of elopement or "going alasin"), and, perhaps most fascinating, the "bashali", where women go when menstruating or giving birth, and where the sense of community among Kalasha women is strongest. All this adds up to a thorough analysis of Maggi's central question, but more important, for the non-scholars among us, is how enjoyable the book is along the way. I especially loved Maggi's sense of humor, a quality that isn't often found in scholarly works, unfortunately. At one point, for example, when Maggi is lamenting the disappearance of some bashali customs, a Kalasha friend retorts, "Wynne, if you like all that so much, then you sit on a rock, naked, waiting for a bird to chirp so you can pee, and I'll go back to America and ride around in your car with your husband." There are many such moments in this book. Treat yourself, and hope Wynne Maggi has more treats in store for us in the future.

Wynne Maggi teaches anthropology and women's studies at the University of Colorado.

A Passage to Nuristan: Exploring the Mysterious Afghan Hinterland (Book)

A Passage to Nuristan: Exploring the Mysterious Afghan Hinterland
By: Nicholas Barrington, Joseph T. Kendrick, Reinhard Schlagintweit

In Afghanistan's Nuristan region (formerly Kafiristan--Land of Infidels), the spectacular mountains and lush but inaccessible valleys have, for centuries, been home to one of the world's least known peoples. The Nuristanis were only converted to Islam at the end of the nineteenth century. "A Passage to Nuristan" is the story of three young westerners - a Briton, an American and a German - who in 1960 set out to penetrate a land that few westerners had set eyes on. Unable to rely on maps or information on what would confront them, they were guided step by precarious step into the unknown world previously immortalised by Kipling's "The Man Who Would be King". This is the contemporary record - now published for the first time - of their journey.

Webster’s Kalasha-English Thesaurus Dictionary

Webster’s Kalasha-English Thesaurus Dictionary
Edited By
Professor Philip M. Parker, PhD

Natural Resources and Cosmology in Changing Kalasha Society (Book)

Natural Resources and Cosmology in Changing Kalasha Society (Book)
By Mytte Fentz

The Kalasha of Hindu Kush have never taken a deliberate ecological attitude to life, yet they have always known how to strike a balance between their needs and the land's yield. This book discusses Kalasha cosmology and their agricultural results from water resources. This book discusses the Kalasha cosmology and the clashes going on in the valleys of the Hindu Kush in NW Pakistan, as well as Kalasha exploitation of natural resources governed by a pragmatism that makes them experts in creating agricultural results.

Retroflex (consonant) harmony in Kalasha (Research Paper)

Retroflex (consonant) harmony in Kalasha
It is a research papers on linguistic study of the Kalasha people of Chitral, Pakistan. To get PDF copy click the link:

And to read on line visit the link:

Retroflex vowels and other peculiarities in the Kalasha sound system

There is book titled, Himalayan Languages: Past and Present edited by Anju Saxena and in this book a chapter is related to the Kalasha language.
Retroflex vowels and other peculiarities in the Kalasha sound system
By Jan Heegard and Ida Elisabeth Morch

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jestak Han (Kalasha Temple)

Jestak Han (Kalasha Temple)
I am sharing a video clip of Jestak Han; the temple of the Kalasha community in Rumbor valley. Hope you will enjoy the trip inside of Jestak Han.
This clip was captured during my anthropological field work in august 2007.

Is it right to join the tribe? (Article Guardian UK)

Is it right to join the tribe?

Does living with the tribe, Bruce Parry style, place isolated cultures at risk from pressure to change? Jonny Beale looks at the rise in 'wild' tourism

Running an adventure travel company is becoming increasingly complex. With competitors constantly pushing the boundaries of alternative holidays - swimming with sharks, firing AK47s, driving packs of huskies - I am constantly forced to unearth new products for evermore discerning clients. Thankfully "gimmick" holidays are not really our style, but off-the-beaten-track adventures most certainly are, and even here things are being squeezed.
As little as five years ago on a trip to Ladakh, or Kyrgyzstan, or Libya, you could have travelled for days along the most obvious routes and not seen another tourist. The yurts we sourced from local nomads became our private homes, the trekking trails our personal footpaths. Now we are forced to find new routes each year to continue to provide a genuinely "wild" experience. These days off-the-beaten-track more often than not means unusual, rather than undiscovered, holidays.
Nowhere has seen a larger relative rise in tourist numbers than India. Year on year since 2002 those of us visiting the subcontinent for our holidays has increased three fold - from 2m to 6m. And yet despite this huge increase, both tourists and tour operators seem reluctant to discover the more remote rural heart of this wonderful travel destination, preferring instead to concentrate on the monuments, bazaars and shopping opportunities of the urban centres.
Yet venture into the undiscovered rural regions of this vast country and you can see, and more importantly, experience, the normal life that the vast majority of Indians live. On our trips to these villages, abhorring the idea of flitting into villages for hasty photo ops, we spend entire days with one community or another, learning about their way of life. Visiting a Gujjar caste of milkmen in southern Rajasthan for example, we follow their daily routing from the 5am start, milking the herd, through making lassi, cooking lunch (which we'll eat off banana leaf plates), enjoy a siesta on an old rope bed, only to make dung patties and collect water from the well as the sun goes down. To break the barriers between us and them, we will even dress in their clothes. And through the funds generated by the trip, help is given to the community - either to their schools, health programmes or agricultural development projects - to recompense them for their time.
There are those that think we should leave these people and their quiet lands alone; that by going into these isolated regions - and it's no exaggeration to say that some villages have never previously seen a white face - we are in some way corrupting them ... tainting them with our western values. That by dressing up in their clothes, we are patronising them.
In my opinion, like most things in life, if something is done right it works and if handled badly it does not. In India, Pakistan and Central Asia I have seen first hand how much enjoyment locals derive from having a genuinely interested foreign audience join their life for a while. I have seen the pleasure they gain from dressing us up - which is usually their idea - from feeding us their food and explaining their customs to us. I have also seen the financial rewards that can come when entrepreneurial individuals take this new business opportunity and run with it.
But it still seems not all agree. I'm sure Bruce Parry has come under fire for travelling to, and living with, various indigenous peoples in his ground-breaking series Tribes. By doing this, it is argued, he is exposing ancient cultures to the glare of the TV camera that would in time lead to change.
But isn't it true that change comes, whether people want it or not? And the challenge is in trying to make sure that the change is for the good.
Jonny Bealby is an author and founder of Wild Frontiers adventure travel company.

Unique Pakistan community under threat (BBC Feature)

Unique Pakistan Community under Threat

By Aijaz Maher 
BBC Urdu service, Islamabad
10 June 2009

Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) is today arguably one of the most dangerous places in the world.
But while that may be true of regions where the Taliban proliferate, there are still areas of NWFP where life goes on as normal.
The most prominent of these is the Kalash region in the northern-most district of Chitral.
It is named after the Kalash tribe which has been settled here since time immemorial.
The tribe, said to be descendants of Alexander the Great's soldiers, still practise an ancient pagan culture unlike any other in this part of the world.
For centuries, the Kalash have been a people apart.
In modern times, they have become a major tourist attraction, but in so doing have also attracted the ire of Islamic clerics.
This has led to many of them derogatively referring to the Kalash region as Kafiristan, or "land of the unbelievers."
Unique heritage
This ill-will was largely restricted to slogans and sermons - until the coming of the Taliban.
But that is not the only challenge facing this dwindling community - many educated young Kalash men have chosen to convert to Islam.
In doing so, they have abandoned the community to seek a life in the cities and a more upscale existence.
All these factors are combining to erase a unique heritage.
Hundreds of years ago about 3,000 Kalash people made their home in the Birir, Rumbur and Bumburet valleys among the Hindu Kush mountains of Chitral.
Generally speaking, the people of Chitral, Muslim or Kalash, are liberal when it comes to religion.
But the Taliban threat has now jeopardised all that, with the neighbouring district of Upper Dir firmly under their control.
"Chitral is one of the most peaceful regions in Pakistan," Abdul Wali, a local lawyer says.
"All communities here have brotherly relations with each other.
"People here believe culture has precedence over religion."
The Kalash in Chitral have four festivals to celebrate the seasons.
The summer festival is the most well attended with people coming from all over the country and the world.
This year there are fewer foreign visitors, but they are present. Among them is Glasgow resident Patricia Fort with her son Leon.
"This is the second time I have come here...this time to show it to my son," she said.
Her son Leon is equally enthusiastic.
"I got to know about this place from my mother, heard all the stories about the Kalash, saw pictures and knew I had to come," he said.
"The scenery is incredibly beautiful, and the people are very friendly."
But now a shadow lies over the event as the security forces are deployed to fend off the Taliban.
Checkpoints litter the road leading to the festival venue and local hospitals have been put on red alert.
"There is a rumour going around that the Taliban will attack the festival," Dr Jahangir Khan, medical officer at a local hospital said.
"There is the situation in Dir, and we are just across the border from Afghanistan.
"We have been put on 24-hour emergency standby for as long as the festival lasts."
The Kalash continued with their festival despite the dangers.
In a region wracked by conflict, their simple ways seem like echoes from another time.
Beautiful women adorned in black robes splattered with bright colours and with necklaces of sparkling stones dance to ancient tunes.
The music is played by the men who occasionally break out in song.
"They are singing of their happiness to God," says Munir, a Kalash man.
"They are thankful that water is plentiful in the rivers and crops are ripening.
"The trees are bearing fruit and prosperity is coming to our homes."
But how much longer the Kalash community can sing of the joys of life is open to doubt. The Taliban are not now that far away.