The Kalash Tribe is Pakistan’s smallest minority group with only 3000 people remaining to carry out the Kalasha language, religion, culture and traditions, the tribe seems to be on the brink of extinction. This tribe resides in the Chitral district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Over 2000 years ago, Alexander the Great conquered these lands leaving some people with the belief that these people are descendants of his army. Their physical characteristics, rituals and symbols are similar to that of the Greeks thus proving the claim of them being descendants of Alexander’s troops.
Besides this there are many different theories regarding this tribe which has attracted international attraction. Anthropologists and tourists curious to know where the origin of this tribe lies, visit this place and its people.
Since this tribe resides far away from civilization, they have been able to live according to their traditions and rituals. They remain in their valleys regardless of how harsh the weather is, but this makes us wonder if they remain in their valley why is it that they are on a brink of extinction?
In the 19th century, Afghan Muslims invaded the Kalash valley and to enforce domination the Afghans destroyed their temples and forced them to convert. After independence Kalash Valley became part of Pakistan. Besides the forced conversions some of these people also want to adapt modern and new ways, which means moving out of their valleys to pursue higher education and careers causing another downfall in their population.
The Kalash tribe are highly known for celebrating and upholding their culture and traditions. They celebrate many festivals over the year where they drink homemade wine and dance all the while worshiping their Gods and Deities through sacrifices, they also use this festival as a chance to mingle and choose their partners. The main festivals are:
1. Joshi, celebrated in May to welcome Spring.
2. Uchal, observed in late August to ensure good crops of wheat
3. Pul/Poh, observed in September only in Birir Valley
4. Chaumos, a grand festival observed in December that continues for two weeks to celebrate the New Year
The Kalash tribe has a beautiful culture which has been carried on for many years now, regardless of being surrounded by Muslim tribes which discriminate them. Visiting this valley especially during their festivals could be the highlight of your trip leaving you with a great experience, new friends and tons of knowledge. This dying culture can be preserved through tourism, international and local agencies. Although, when you visit Kalash make sure to interact with the locals properly and take permission before you take pictures.