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How to Safeguard the Kalash Cultural Heritage

Zobia Sultana Deputy Director (Research) Introduction: The present Kalash community is restricted to 3 parallel valleys of Chitral district i.e. Bormboret, Birir and Rambur called the Kalash valleys or Kafiristan. In the Birir and the Rambur valleys the Kalash out number the non Kalash while in the more picturesque Bamboret valley the non Kalash are in a slight majority (Durrani 1982). These three narrow V-shaped valleys are situated in the South-west part of Chitral town, North West Frontier Province in Pakistan (Wada 2003). In 2007, the local government department approved the creation of separate union council of Bomborate for the Kalash valleys. The word Kalash bears 3 meanings: 1. Kalash is name of the tribe 2. Kalash is name of pagan Religion 3. Kalash is name of endangered language (Faizee 2012) Brief History: Kalash were majority population in Chitral who ruled the area in 12 th century. In 1320 Muslim invader Rais conquered Chitral, and forcibly converted the Kalash community. After embracing the Islam the Kalash community abandoned their religion as well as their language and ethnic identity, except a few thousand people who took refuge in 3 confined valleys of Bomborate, Birir and Rambur. The recent history shows that Kalash population is shrinking instead of rising. In 1951 Census the Kalash population consisted of 10, 000 souls. During the last 60 years the population of Muslims in Chitral is increasing at the rate of 2.5% per annum and the population of Kalash has decreased from 10,000 to 3700 (Faizee 2012). Fascination of Kalash Nothing in Pakistan, not even the Khyber holds the fascination for the Western or the Japanese tourists as the Kalash Kafirs. For instance nearly 80 books have been written on the Kalash and on Kafiristan in European languages, which is decidedly greater than on all other subjects in Pakistan (Durrani 1982). Major threats to Kalash Culture The most serious pressure working on Kalash culture is religious one today. Their religious and cultural rites are scorned and laughed at and no opportunity is lost in converting them by inducement and even by out right threats (Durrani 1982; Rahat n.d.; Loude and Liever 1989; Faizee 2012). Some of the threat aspects are as following: 1. Threat to the pagan religion 2. Threat to the ancient language 3. Threat to an indigenous culture 4. Threat to an ethnic identity

Ways Ahead Anthropologists Mr. Loude and Liever (1988) in the major part of their book “Kalash Solstice” try to explain that the priority in maintaining the Kalash culture is to safeguard and develop their economy. Like if we consider the marriage rules, the funeral traditions, the festive competitions, the numerous religious ceremonies throughout the year, in fact the whole Kalash culture is based on an excessive production of wealth(cattle breeding and agriculture) in order to distribute the surplus among the people to please the supernatural beings and to strengthen the social structure. The purpose of Kalash man is to spend and to spread his wealth among his community in order to obtain in return the glory and reputation that will follow him after death. This concept of life encourages the Kalash to consider their economic progress as the key of their cultural survival. So the general feeling and impression of Kalash is “let us improve our economy and we will manage to repair our sanctuaries, our shrines, our dancing grounds by ourselves and we will decide what is good for us concerning our religion, culture and identity”. • Almost all the researchers most of the time in their reports come up with the single point agenda of improving the economic base of Kalash by creating new jobs in their own area and giving them relaxation for getting them into the economic mainstream in the general society. At present their source of sustenance is their petty landholdings and few of the livestock and goats heads. They do not earn anything out of the tourism in their place. All facilities extended to tourists in their area are owned by the Non Kalashs. Then another point which is emphasized is the establishment of separate schools for Kalash children with only Kalash teacher and Kalasha as the medium of instructions at primary classes and then offering Kalasha language as optional course at higher classes for the promotion of language. And this scheme will also save children from forced conversions and scornful behaviours at school level which inhibit them from continuing their education. Their illiteracy is also aggravating their problems poverty, of health and of seclusion and lack of trust and confidence. There should be sound legislation and its forceful implementation in letter and spirit to check the forced conversions on one hand and to avoid the disrespectful behaviours of tourists towards their religious rites on the other hand. Then there is the suggestion of establishment of Kalash Foundation for addressing Kalash issues exclusively with representation of all stakeholders in it (Alauddin 1992; Durrani 1982; Faizee 2012; Loude and Liever 1988; Rahat n.d.).

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Measures to be taken specifically for the safeguarding of cultural heritage of Kalash 1. An inventory of endangered elements of Kalash tangible culture needs to be made. 2. An inventory of endangered elements of intangible culture of Kalash needs to be developed immediately 3. Putting together proposal for documentation of Kalash culture (both tangible and intangible).

4. Putting together a proposal for preserving Kalash culture in model Kalash villages of Bomborate, Ramboor and Birir. However, Loude and Liever (1992) caution against the fact that the Kalash have never been handicraftsmen. They have always been obliged to purchase their jewels, weapons and wooden furniture from the kafirs and Nuristanis. The Kalash do not need emporiums to sell their women’s ornaments; and it is pity because the women’s dress represents the last stronghold of the Kalash identity. Selling it is obviously selling a part of the Kalash soul. The immediate result of this trade is the shortage of the materials in the bazaar. The suggestion is that Kalash do what they want to do with their own products without encouraging an increase of the sales by setting up official shops, even if the intention is to share the profits among them. 5. Putting together a proposal for the safeguarding of Kalash language from outside elements. 6. Putting together a proposal for the safeguarding of Kalash religion. 7. Seeking ways and means to preserve the music of Kalash in its original form. 8. Seeking ways and means to preserve Kalash nomenclature which is also facing threats.

References:
Alauddin. 1992. Kalash: The Paradise Lost. Lahore: Progressive. Durrani, M. Shakil. 1982. Appendix-F: Kalash Kafirs – Urgent Need to Save A Vanishing People. In Kalash: The Paradise Lost. Lahore: Progressive. Faizee, Dr. Innayat Ullah. Interview: 17.1.2012. Loude, Jean-Yves and Viviane Lievre. 1988. Kalash Solstice. Islamabad: Lok Virsa. Loude, Jean-Yves and Viviane Lievre. 1989. Appendix-D: Report on the kalash Culture. In Kalash: The Paradise Lost. Lahore: Progressive. Rahat, E- Rahat. n.d. Appedix-E: Recommendations of Dr. Naveed-e-Rahat. In Kalash: The Paradise Lost. Lahore: Progressive. Wada, Akiko. 2003. Kalasha: Their Life and Tradition. Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications.