CHITRAL: Language of the ancient Kalash tribe which dwell in the three castaway valleys of Chitral district, has so far only existed in the spoken form. To protect it from extinction the local NGO Ayun and Valleys Development Program (AVDP)? with the aid of USAID has published two books comprising of Kalash folklores, folk songs, anecdotes and quotations. The books were presented by the minority MPA Wazir Zada, who is himself a Kalash, to the Assistant director Culture department in Peshawar. .. BH Azad, Chitral 04 Nov 2019.
?Impressed by the design and embroidery style that is native to the women of the rural mountainous areas of Chitral, Kalash, Gilgit and Baltistan, Stella Jean has decided to incorporate their craft in her spring/summer 2020 collection at Milan Fashion Week (MFW) starting from September 21,? Commerce Secretary Sardar Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera said.
Secretary said that the Ministry of Commerce in collaboration with Stella Jean, a leading Italian designer and UNIDO have launched an initiative to empower the women in Chitral, Gilgit, Hunza and Kalash.
?Through this initiative, Stella Jean has incorporated embroidery done by Chitral Women?s Handicrafts Centre ? an NGO by Fortune Magazine under 30 fame Karishma Ali & in Gilgit-Baltistan through ?Karigar? a women empowerment initiative by AKDN,? he added.
CHITRAL: A Kalash man who had converted to Islam earlier has performed the grand Islamic ritual of Haj, now. Two of his sons still follow the Kalash faith. The interesting part is that, when the person returned to his native village Rumbur in the Kafiristan valley of Chitral district, the Kalash community turned up en-mass, to welcome the man enthusiastically, despite the fact that he had relinquished their forefathers religious dogma and adopted a new religion for himself.
This is a unique and unusual display of tolerance and acceptance by an affected society of a person dissenting from their religious faith. However as it has come from the Kalash community it may not yield as much weight, as it would have, in case it had come from the majority.
It is a world wide societal rule that the minority is always humble, submissive and tolerant, whereas the majority is aggressive and unforbearing. This is a universal law of human behaviour. Real surprise would have been felt when situation would have been different. .. CN report, 11 Sep 2019
The Uchal festival continues for many days moving on to different locations within the valley. The mega event of Uchal festival will be held in Rambur, Bamburet besides Anish, Broon Karakul and other small villages in Kalash valley.
The young boys and girls gathered at the community hall in Rambur and sang songs and danced to the drumbeat. The festival celebrated in annual harvesting with singing, dancing and paying homage to the nature for blessing them with good food and fruits. It is marked in the barley and wheat harvest season every year in August. The people of Kalash community prepare cornbread, buttermilk and cheese to celebrate the festival.
In the festival, Kalash women and girls decorate their houses and the ceremony is accompanied by dancing and rhythmical chant to the drumbeat. They wear traditional black robes, ornate cowries shelled headdresses and adorned with coloured necklaces and dance in a circle. During the festival, prayers and processions are held at a high plateau outside the village in Balangkuru where the long night of dancing begins.
The Uchal festival is one of the cultural festivals celebrated by Kalash community like many other festivals around the year.
?..? ?Nasser Yousaf
While Alexander thus disclaimed himself from being a mythological figure, perhaps one could justifiably attribute mythical heroic qualities to Maureen?Lines, the London-born charity worker who quietly passed away in Peshawar at?midnight,?on the 17th of March, 2017.
Maureen?Patricia Lines was born two years before the beginning of the Second World War in the north of London. Less than three years before she succumbed to several complications that she was loath (and too proud) to discuss with her friends and admirers,?Maureen?underwent a surgery on her spinal cord in Rawalpindi?s military hospital. For someone her age, that would have meant an end to straining oneself beyond a limit. But it was not so for?Maureen,?who, less than a year after the surgery, was found on road to Chitral through the famous Lowari Pass!
For those who have not been to Chitral by road in fair weather, as it remains cut off from lower regions during the snowy winters, it is not possible to imagine the travails and tribulations of the magnificent and treacherous Lowari Pass. But?Maureen?s journey would not end at that, as her destination lay far onwards in the Kalash valleys, which could be reached only through travelling on a route that could barely support the four wheels of the jeep!
At 52, when physical decline in the body sets in for most,?Maureen?decided to cross over into Nuristan in Afghanistan through the 16,000-feet-high Shawal Pass in the Hindu Kush mountains. She scaled the vertiginous heights in the company of a young shepherd and a mule.
Before it got its new name and before the wholesale conversion of its indigenous ?pagan? community, Nuristan was part of the greater Kalash region.
Perhaps,?Maureen?had undertaken the journey in search of Habib, her young Afghan comrade with whom she had got into a relationship ? one that remained a matter of speculation for quite a long time. Habib had since disappeared.
Writing about Habib, and how and where she found him in Nuristan in her riveting travelogue?Journey to Jalalabad, she appeared to be asking for a lid to be put on the nature of whatever her relationship with the young boy had been. Meanwhile, Habib was elated when he saw?Maureen?in the midst of his humble family home in one of the remotest corners of the world. He made frantic efforts to arrange for her comfort ? which included a bath in the cowshed where?Maureen?washed her weary body in the presence of two thoroughly amused heifers!
Maureen?first set foot on Pakistan?s soil in 1982, and the same year she ventured into the Kalash valleys in Chitral. Like Doris Lessing, who upon arrival in Chitral is famously said to have remarked, ?Oh my God, I did not know that this place exists on earth!??Maureen?was similarly thrilled ? except that unlike Doris she had decided that there was no turning back. Henceforth, Kalash was home for Maureen?and wherever she travelled to, during the time between her first arrival in Kalash and her passing away, she always returned to her home in Birir in the mountainous regions of Pakistan.
She had received her training as a nurse in the U.S. In the beginning, therefore, she started her work going from door-to-door as a ?bare-foot doctor?, as she fancied calling herself. Thus, in the three main valleys of Bumburet, Birir and Rumbur, she began her work. She would take her lodging and meals with the local Kalash in their traditional wood-and-stone huts. She would watch all night as her hosts would cook themselves the goat?s entrails, sparing no part of the slaughtered animal, and hear them coughing non-stop. And that only strengthened her resolve to stay put, and do her utmost for those in immediate need of her help.
While in Pakistan,?Maureen?cultivated the goodwill of many influential and not-so-influential people, though she also had her share of detractors, especially in the valleys. She was exceptionally good at friendships. She quite openly admired efficient civil services officers, with some of whom she had developed personal friendships. She had little patience for people who she associated with timber smuggling, and berated those officers whose administrative work in the valleys did not meet the criteria that she had set ? according to the standards in Britain.
She started her work going door to door as a ?bare-foot doctor?
In the 1990s, she took the plunge by devoting herself entirely to charity and conservation work in the Kalash valleys. She set up her Hindu Kush Conservation Association (HKCA) with its head office at her residence in Peshawar. She used her old friendships in Britain quite effectively to help fund the charity work and efforts aimed at the conservation of indigenous heritage. She never compromised on the quality of work, and would cringe and visibly suffer whenever she found out that some public works carried out by the government departments had been swept away by flash floods. She firmly believed that concrete and mortar could not be sustainable in the flood-prone valleys.
Maureen?was a remarkable writer. Her emails were a treat to read, especially those that she wrote to her friends after her prolonged absences from Peshawar in the mountains. Each such email would merit publication by itself. Her friends would comment that the quality of her prose matched that which could only be found in the Victorian classics. In addition to several guidebooks, she also authored two travelogues namely?Beyond the Northwest Frontier?and?Journey to Jalalabad. She also produced a third work titled?From Disaster to Catastrophe, which details the losses wreaked by the floods on the valleys and their inhabitants.
Maureen?Lines was of a stocky build and would sport very short hair. She was meticulous about her manicure as she liked keeping her fingernails at fashionable length ? something which she would ensure even during her times of great physical discomfort. Her dress consisted mainly of corduroy pants and a shirt, with a scarf. During her calls on the officials, she would be seen wearing a waistcoat in keeping with the English manners which she never forsook even for a minute ? despite the fact that she had abandoned London as her home long ago.
She loved Kalash wine which she would ensure was brewed under her keen supervision in the summertime, and would bring ample supplies upon her return to Peshawar to serve it with roasted walnuts and crackers to a group of her close friends.The lively dinners and parties at her home, especially to celebrate the New Year, will be forever missed by her admirers and friends.
Though she mostly lived, recently her adopted Kalash family joined her. She wanted her adopted brood of girls and boys to receive the best education in Peshawar. Her home in University Town, an upscale area, had everything conceivable to make it a complete English household: with immaculate china and linen, fine goblets for different types of drinks and silverware to match each meal and the accompanying dessert. And not least, there was a pair of dogs, one of whom she had picked up from the street in a poor state of health. When the dogs died a couple of years ago,?Maureen?ensured that they got a proper burial in her green lawns.
Photography crowned all her extraordinary talents and achievements. In photography, like writing,?Maureen?was in a class of her own. She had a vast collection of photographs which she took during her wonderful journeys around Pakistan, Afghanistan and her nearly half-a-lifetime?s stay amongst the Kalash. More than a hundred of those evocative pictures adorn the walls of her drawing room in painstakingly made frames. All those pictures made up her coffee-table book titled?The Kalasha of the Hindu Kush, which she succeeded in publishing about two years ago through her long-time friends and admirers, the Bhandara family.
She insisted that I should write the blurb for that book. I kept procrastinating, nervous that I would not be able to do justice to such a great piece of work. Finally, though, I did succeed in writing a blurb of sorts, which I reproduce here:
?If anything could most vividly bring to life what George Scott Robertson chronicled in ?The Kafirs of the Hindu Kush? more than one hundred years ago, it is none other than this pictorial tour de force by Maureen?Lines about one of the world?s most ancient people living on the fringes of civilisation. Having lived among them, off and on, for more than thirty years, in ?The Kalasha of the Hindu Kush?,?Maureen, an indefatigable traveller, a gifted writer and a tenacious social worker produces indisputable proof of her latent talent as an accomplished photographer. This fascinating coffee-table book contains scores of fascinating glimpses from the everyday life of Kalasha who appear to be fighting for their jealously guarded hundreds-of-years old privacy in a world rent asunder by religious frenzy and a predatory lust for commercialisation. But before it was too late,?Maureen?has conserved what ardent lovers of wilderness and nature must value beyond everything else.?
We couldn?t launch the book here for several reasons, one being?Maureen?s peculiar loathing for the month of March. ?No, Nasser, not in March! I am a strong believer in the Ides of March, they spoil everything for me!? she would protest vehemently. ?Let April come, and I shall be swinging from the chandelier!? were some of her last words before she bid adieu. She is survived by her adopted Kalasha family, consisting of a widow whom?Maureen?would call ?Bau? (?sister? in Kalasha), and her four children who were all by her side when the fighter departed from our midst.
Sadly, the ?Ides of March? that she had so prophetically mentioned to her friends were finally proven right.
The 17th of March, 2017, would be engraved on her tomb in the Christian Cemetery, where she lies amongst luminaries of the British Raj period dating from 1850 and onwards. A long list of administrators, civil and military officials, missionaries, explorers, adventurers and families ? women and even children as old as six months old ? lie buried next to her grave under a huge tree.
She must wonder even now if there were more ?conquests? and achievements for her to accomplish, in terms of protecting heritage and the environment, conservation of, animal rights and foremost, the Kalasha culture that she zealously and jealously helped to guard. She wanted Kalasha sites to be on the UN?s World Heritage Sites list.
And so passed the Grand Dame of Kalasha, who was always larger than life.
The author may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
* Stories about the Kalash are frequently fabricated, and this has been amplified in recent years by the proliferation of smartphones and social media
* Archaeologist says ongoing erosion of the culture at the hands of outside forces is tragic
Chitral: After the recently concluded Chilm Joshi spring festival of the Kalash tribe of Chitral district, a young girl expressed her disgust over the overwhelming onslaught of tourists at their festivals. Gul Bahar Kalash said it amounted to degrading the sanctity and sanguinity of the religiously celebrated occasions.
Gul Bahar said she was happy to see that this year not many tourists turned up for their Chilim Joshi festival and they could celebrate it with ease. Answering a question she said not all tourists are bad but many are rude and intrusive and come with the pre-conceived idea that the Kalash are a commodity instead of human beings with self respect. This is abhorring and the concept needs to change she said. She reiterated that personally she was very happy to see that very few tourists came to watch the festival this year. .. CN report, 30 May 209
Chitral: A Kalash elder Sher passed away in Rumbur the second valley of the Kalasha tribe in Chitral. He was 75.? According to Kalash traditions his body will be kept in audience and the death celebrated for three days. The Kalash do not mourn the death of their dead, instead celebrate the occasion saying the person is transcending to a better afterlife.
Goats are slaughtered depending on the status of the dead person sometime amounting to 100 goats. Songs and eulogies in praise of the death are chanted throughout the mourning period. The cap of the deceased is kept beside his coffin were money and articles of daily use are placed, sometime even cigarette and naswar are placed alongside the body to be buried, just in case the person needed them in the afterlife. It may be noted that the three day funeral celebration is for male whereas female have a one day celebration. .. GH Farooqi, 25 May 2019
Chitral: The annual spring festival of the Kalash tribe homed in the three castaway valleys of Chitral district in northern Pakistan, concluded with traditional fervour and fanfare. Many tourist both local and foreign visited the valleys for the festival, despite the month of Ramazan which is strictly followed in Chitral. A number of tourists talking to this scribe said they were pleased to witness a safe and amicable atmosphere in the area and in Pakistan as a whole. They said negative propaganda against Pakistan as being full of terrorists is unfortunate as people here are most friendly and guest loving. They said? the Kalash are a treasure for Pakistan’s tourism and must be looked after seriously.? .. GH Farooqi, 17 May 2019
Chitral: Deputy Secretary Ministry of Religious and Minorities Affairs Imran Rashid inaugurated the two week long Chilim Jusht spring festival of the Kalash community in Bumburet, the major Kalash valley. Deputy Commissioner lower Chitral ?Khurshid Alam Mahsud also spoke on the occasion and ensured full support to the minority community. Chitral Museum manager? Saeed Gul Kalash demanded preservation of Kalash artifacts in the valley and also demanded to check check misleading mis-information being spread on social media about the Kalash and their culture. .. CN report, 02 May 2019