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Discovering the Secrets of Kalash, Unique European Tribe in Asia

Kalash Woman Headress
Discovering the Secrets of Kalash, Unique European Tribe in Asia
on June, 20 2014
Kalash Woman Headress

Image credit: Woman headdress Kalash taken by manalahmadkhan under Public Domain.

In the remote mountains of Pakistan, a group of Caucasian looking people strive. They are called the Kalash. Seeing them within the borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan seems quite weird in a sense that the people of the said tribe are not of Asian descent, but European. Over the years, they have continued to thrive in the mountainous regions, and have kept their long standing cultures and practices.

The people of the Kalash tribe can be easily distinguished as they don’t look anywhere near their Pakistani neighbors. They all look European, with a lot of them having blonde hair, blue eyes and light skin. They also have unique sets of cultures and customs. As opposed to their neighbors who are strict and conservative, the people of Kalash are more open-minded, liberated and fun-loving.

Kalasha Language and Religion

The language spoken by the Kalash tribe is called Kalasha. It is considered as a part of the Indo-European family. There are a few similarities with the languages used in Western Europe. However, further analysis of the language shows that they might be totally independent. The language is also said to be a relative of the Chritrali language, which is close to the Norwegian language.

When it comes to religion, the people of Kalash practice polytheism. This is something frowned at by their neighbors who have already converted to Islam. They praise nature, animals and other deities. According to their leaders, any Kalash who wishes to convert to Islam can no longer live with them as they have to preserve their culture and tradition. Over the years, a huge percentage of the tribe has converted to Islam, but resides near their villages. According to statistics, the Kalasha speaking people who have converted to Islam comprise 50% of the total Kalash population.

Unique Traditions

Kalash are fun-loving individuals. They love wearing bright-colored attire. Women wear long black robes. However, they are adorned with lots of embroidered garments and jewelry made from shells and other indigenous materials. They also celebrate lots of festivals throughout the year. Among their most popular festivals are the Joshi festival celebrated on May, Uchau which is celebrated every autumn and the Caumus, which is done in midwinter. They catty out these celebrations for thanksgiving, seeking for protection from their gods and many others. According to the Kalash people, they are descendats of Alexander the Great who once settled in their region. However, no scientific evidence can prove this. Yet, people still believe that they got their European looks from Alexander the Great.

Cultural Threat

The Kalash are the last remaining people of their kind. There are around 3,000 Kalash people left. The biggest threat comes from their neighbors who have forced them to convert to Islam. In fact, the other tribe in the neighboring village that also have their own traditions before have completely abandoned their ways and converted to Islam. This is due to death threats should they not convert. Every now and then, the Kalash people face such kind of threat. However, they remain strong. They look out for each other. They want to ensure that their culture and beliefs go on forever.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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