The Kalash live in about 12 villages in the valley, which is full of lush green fields and natural springs. The Kalash villages are accessible from Peshawar and Gilgit over the Lawari Pass and Shandur pass, located at a distance of 365 kilometres and 385 kilometres respectively, a 12-hour journey in either case. However, tourists prefer to travel by air via the daily flight operated by Pakistan International Airlines from Islamabad or Peshawar to Chitral.
|In Urdu:|| کالاش|
|Climate:||The summers are mild and agreeable with average maximum temperatures between 23C° and 27°C (73° – 81°F) and Winters, on the other hand, can be very cold, with average minimum temperatures between 2C° and 1 C°C (36C° – 34 C°F)|
|Location:||Located in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, three isolated mountain valleys: Bumburet (Kalash: Mumuret), Rumbur (Rukmu), and Birir (Biriu).|
|Women:||Blonde hair and Blue eyes|
|Etymology:||The people of Chitral apparently adopted the name of the former Kafiristan Kalasha|
|Dress:||Kalasha women usually wear long black robes, often embroidered with cowrie shells and Pakistani shalwar kameez|
|Religion:||Islam,Proto-Indo-Iranian religion (Indo-European religion)|
|Dance:||Three or four dancers of either sex hold shoulders and go round the elders in a counter-clockwise direction|
|Valley Kalash Title:||Place of kafirstan|
|Amazing Valley:||Bamboreet, Barare and Ramboor|
|Deities:||Sajigor, Mahandeo, Balumain, Dezalik, Ingaw, Jestak|
|Festivals:||Joshi it is celebrated in May and marks the arrival of spring, Uchau this festival takes place in mid August, Caumus it is the most important festival held in mid December|
|Sports:||Cikik Ghal,kirik Ghal and Him Ghal Meaning Snow Golf|
The origins of the Kalash tribe are shrouded in doubt and speculation. Some historians believe that these people are the descendants of Alexander the Great. Others say the Kalash are indigenous to Asia and come from the Nuristan area of Afghanistan. Some say the Kalash migrated to Afghanistan from a distant place in South Asia called Tsiyam, a place that features in their folk songs. However, it has been established that the Kalash migrated to Chitral from Afghanistan in 2nd century BC, and by 10th century AD the Kalash ruled a large part of present-day Chitral. Razhawai, Cheo, Bala Sing and Nagar Chao were famous Kalash rulers in the 12th- 14th centuries AD. Their fellow tribesmen in Afghanistan were known as Red Kafirs.
But by 1320 AD, Kalash culture had begun to fall. Shah Nadir Raees subjugated and converted the people to Islam, with the villages of Drosh, Sweer, Kalkatak, Beori, Ashurate, Shishi, Jinjirate and adjacent valleys in southern Chitral among the last subjected to mass conversion in the 14th century. By the time the Amir of Afghanistan forcefully converted the Red Kafirs on the other side of the border to Islam in 1893, the Kalash were living in just three Chitral valleys, Bhumboret, Rumbur and Birir. The villages of the converted Red Kafirs in Chitral are known as Sheikhanandeh the village of converted ones.
The language of the Kalash is the Kalasha and is a Dardic language (subUchau group of Indo-Aryan languages spoken in Northern Pakistan, eastern Afghanistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir). The language is spoken by a handful of people approximately 5000 and is considered to be critically endangered by UNESCO. The Kalasha language has no proper script; however, there have been recent developments in introducing a formal script for the language.
The inhabitants of the Kalash valley celebrate a number of festivals all year round. The three predominant festivals are as follows:
It is celebrated in May and marks the arrival of spring. People wear new clothes and women accessorize heavily, girls are sent to the hill side for dancing and singing. Women decorate their houses and collect milk from the cattle, One year old babies and their mothers are also purified in this festival.
This festival takes place in mid August at the altar of Mahandeo where newly made cheese is brought from the pastures. Dancing and singing again forms an integral part of the festival.
It is the most important festival held in mid December.
There are many sports played in the valleys, but I would love to introduce the game called cikik ghal, kirik ghal and him ghal meaning snow golf, which is a famous sport during winter. It is played between two villages and there are no specific players. Victory is achieved by winning the best of three, and the losing team must sacrifice a bull to provide food for the winning team and arrange a musical party to enliven spirits after the exhausting day. On February 2012 our traditional sports development programme had organized an indigenous winter sports festival and formed a standard team, consisting of 24 members including captain and coach. This step was taken to preserve the game because it was being lost with the passage of the time. The sport is very emotional and there is a slight risk of fighting. In order to minimize risk during the game we sought to have some standardized rules to continue this unique game. The same organization has planned to another winter sports festival in 2013 as well. Do not miss the chance to come to witness and enjoy such a unique sporting occasion.
The people of Kalash have a rich culture and are very strong footed about their identity. These people stand out from the remaining tribes, cultures and communities of Pakistan due to their distinct culture, religious practices and festivals. The area known as Kalash Valley boosts serene beauty, lush green valleys and fruit farms making it an ideal tourist spot not only in terms of scenic beauty but also cultural diversity and religious spots. Despite all the pros the fact of the matter remains that nothing is being done to develop the area and to invest in its tourism industry. The Kalash valley faces discrimination on a number of fronts be it economic development or recognition as a separate religious entity. The area lacks proper infrastructure which cuts it off with the rest of the world and has resulted in the backwardness of the region.