Z Królestwa SIS: Kalasha – The White Tribe of Pakistan
First Blog on Heritage, Culture and Tourism in Pakistan
The Kalasha of Chitral or simply Kalasha, are an ethnic group living in the Hindu Kush region of Pakistan. They are [probably] an ancient Dard people who speak the Kalasha-mun language, have light skin, eyes, and hair, similar to what one would find in Southern Europe.
Many Kalash claim that they are the direct descendants of either Greek settlers, Alexander the Great’s army, or even Alexander himself. The claims are questionable, as there is proof of their existence before Alexander’s invasion of the Persian Empire.
One theory suggests that similarities in the culture of the Kalasha and Greek people stem from the expansion of Proto-Indo-Europeans.
It is important to note that there is no current connection between the Kalasha of Chitral and the Kalasha of Nuristan. These two populations descend from different branches of the Indo-Iranians, a division that goes back some 5,000 years.
According to linguist [Richard Strand], a professional in this area, the people of Chitral apparently adopted the name of the former Kafiristan Kalasha, who at some unknown time extended their influence into Chitral.
There is still controversy over what defines the ethnic characteristics of the Kalasha and what exactly is their number. An estimate puts current population of ethnic Kalasha around six thousand; who continue to worship their polytheistic gods, while many thousands more have converted to Islam (whether genuine or for economic and social gain), yet still live within the Kalasha villages and maintain their language and their traditional centuries old way of life.
KALASHA – THE WHITE TRIBE OF PAKISTAN
The Kalasha are indigenous people residing in the Chitral District of Pakistan. They speak the Kalasha language, from the Dardic family of the Indo-Iranian languages, and are considered a unique tribe among the Indo-Aryan peoples of Pakistan.
They are related to the Nuristani people of the adjacent Nuristan (historically known as Kafiristan) province of Afghanistan. An autochthonous and polytheistic by the late 19th century much of Nuristan had converted to Islam, while the Kalasha of Chitral maintain their own separate cultural traditions.
The culture of Kalash people is unique and differs completely from the various ethnic groups surrounding them. They are polytheists and nature plays a highly significant and spiritual role in their daily life.
As part of their religious tradition, sacrifices are offered and festivals held to give thanks for the abundant resources of their three valleys. Kalasha Desh (the three Kalash valleys) is made up of two distinct cultural areas, the valleys of Rumbur and Brumbret forming one and Birir valley the other, Birir valley being the most traditional of the two.
Kalash mythology and folklore has been compared to that of ancient Greece, but they are much closer to Indo-Iranian (Vedic and pre-Zoroastrian) traditions. Some of the Kalash people in their own traditions claim to be descendants of Alexander the Great’s soldiers, however, extensive genetic testing has shown no connection.
The Kalash’s origins have fascinated anthropologists due to the unusually high frequency of light hair, skin, and eyes (particularly green). Some Pashtuns and Persians too have been known to have blond hair or green eyes (such as Sharbat Gula).
In the mountains of the Hindu Kush in Pakistan, six thousand or so people live who look and sound very different from their neighbors. They claim to have lived in the area for thousands of years and they look to all intents and purposes, European.