Check Out The Kalasha Times Annual Report 2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Dressing to Keep from Disappearing: Kalasha women’s costumes

By:Tom Crowley

In May this year, I spent five days in the Kalash Valleys, North West Pakistan. I had been to visit the Kalasha several times before, both to conduct research and to keep up with friends I made there.

This time I had something particular in mind: to collect examples of the striking costume which Kalasha women wear and to try to find out why Kalasha women make such distinctive clothes.

  • Kalasha costumes

The Kalasha are the last followers of a pre-Islamic religion which was practiced across much of the Hindu Kush mountain range. Their faith has no canonical texts, it is defined instead by the landscape which the Kalasha live in and the ceremonies, rites, taboos and festivals that they observe.

Accurate population statistics regarding the Kalasha are difficult to ascertain, but it is probable that they number between 3,000 and 4,000. Although the Kalasha sense that their population is slowly growing, most Kalasha fear that their culture may not survive into the future. Every year Kalasha men and women leave their faith and convert to Islam.
The Kalasha’s acute awareness of their vulnerability means that they practice some aspects of their culture with particular devotion. Those things which make the Kalasha different from the people around them have become sacrosanct. To neglect them is to begin the process of Kalasha culture sliding into oblivion.
Special codes of conduct which help to separate pure and impure are carefully followed. Seasonal festivals are attended and specific songs sung and dances danced. Major life events like coming of age, marriage and death are marked with sacrifices and rituals. Recently, a special Kalasha school syllabus has been developed and implemented with impressive energy and devotion. The Kalasha language has been coded with a script so that it may be enshrined, forever, in text. Into all these things and many more the Kalasha pour their energy; bulwarks against the world surrounding them.
However, for an outsider visiting the Kalasha for the first time none of the above are immediately obvious. When you are new to the Kalasha what really strikes you are their women.

  • Kalasha women's costumes

In the areas around the Kalash Valleys, it is rare to see women in a busy place. However, this is not the case with the Kalasha. Kalasha women observe their own special restrictions, but they do not limit their movement in public. Furthermore, they make their presence felt with costumes which demand admiration and attention. The contrast is marked, when entering the Kalash Valleys one passes from a landscape populated by men into a world where women dominate the topography, eclipsing their more humbly attired menfolk.

Filming in the Kalash Valleys

My trip this May corresponded with the spring festival of Zoshi. A major constituent of Zoshi are group rituals where often over one hundred men and women link arms in prolonged dances. The spectacle of these dances is the single greatest draw for tourists visiting the Kalasha.

  • Kalasha festival of Zoshi

Zoshi in 2013 was a bumper event for regional tourism, the security situation was better than in previous years and domestic tourists – as well as the odd foreign one – were present in considerable numbers. The army and the police were also out in force. A necessary precaution with Taliban units the across Afghan border only a few hours march away.
This double load of outsiders made many of the Kalasha I spoke to feel uncomfortable.

For Kalasha women, Zoshi is a time to be seen. The dresses on display are often their owner’s finest, embroidered with the latest and most experimental designs. Young women in particular try their best to look wonderful since Zoshi is a time when unmarried men and women from different locales can meet. Yet coupled with the appreciative gaze of fellow Kalasha was the unwelcome gawping of visitors. Although all the tourists I spoke to expressed un-feigned admiration for Kalasha costume, their presence in such large numbers felt like a trespass on the festival.

For the first time in the Kalash Valleys, I saw women draw shawls over their costumes and faces to parry the stares and cameras of outsiders.
Several of the Kalasha I spoke to at Zoshi were critical of modern Kalasha costume. Traditional costumes consisted of a more modest headdress and a woollen dress, spun and woven in the home. Even the most elaborately embroidered modern dress, I was told, would take up a quarter of the time required to make a traditional dress. Furthermore, the constituents of modern dresses are globally available cotton-synthetic mixes and woollen yarns. Traditional dresses by contrast were of wool from the family flocks, dyed with walnuts from local trees.

Some of those I spoke to also took issue with the embroidery designs on modern dresses. I was told how inspiration for embroidery comes from the outside, from imported goods, trips to town, looking at magazines and the television. Also bemoaned were the rapidly changing fashions for different styles of embroidery and the tacit competition between women to embellish the finest dresses.

  • Kalasha costumes

In the context of Zoshi, saturated by outsiders greedy for spectacle, dresses, like tourism had been cast by some as yet another deleterious manifestation of globalisation. One friend summarised it as follows, “In the past we were not know to the world… We [had simple clothes] to cover the body [from the sun] we were hard working… we were dancing and we had nothing to do with the world, but [we] were happy with [our] traditions”.
Despite worrying about the ‘Kalashaness’ of modern dresses, no one I spoke to denied that they were fundamental to Kalasha culture. For me they remain an inspiring and a vigorously creative way of keeping a culture vital in a rapidly changing world. I understand concerns that in many ways they represent a move away from traditional Kalasha values.

But they also represent a way of being Kalasha which uses globally pervasive materials and designs to create a globally recognisable identity. The Kalasha in embracing the present and recasting it in their own form are insuring their survival far into the future.

Here is the link: www.horniman.ac.uk
Further information
  • Maggi, W. 2001 Our Women are Free: Gender and ethnicity in the Hindu Kush. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Parkes, P. 1983 Alliance and Elopement: Economy, social order and sexual antagonism among the Kalasha (Kalash Kafirs) of Chitral. Unpublished PhD, University of Oxford.

Ayun valley got DSL internet facilities

Ayun 19 Oct: Ayun valley facilitated with DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) high speed internet. Source told the The Kalasha Times that connections have been distributed to PTCL’s existing subscribers today.

Ayun valley is a gateway to Kalash valleys and it’s expected that PTCL would expend the DSL service to Kalash valleys soon. The Kalasha valleys are famous tourist destination and there are internet users as well but due to poor quality internet dial up subscribers are in trouble.

Enforcement of law on free, mandatory education urged

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CHITRAL, Oct 13: District Coordinator of Alif Ailaan, Chitral Luke Rehmat have asked the government to enforce law for provision of free education to children and making it binding on them to benefit from the facility.

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Mr Rehmat told a news conference here the other day that his organisation would continue its advocacy for enrolment of children in schools.

He said the advocacy campaign was meant to ensure that not a single child remained without admission to school.

The district coordinator of Alif Ailaan said Chitral ranked second in the province on enrolment rate.

He said quality education was a must for progress and for that, a series of efforts were needed like the strengthening of primary schools and establishment of a separate university and education board.

Mr Rehmat expressed concern over the deplorable condition of public sector primary schools in the district and said there were two rooms and three teachers for five classes to the misery of students and teachers alike.

He said in light of the number of public sector schools and colleges and strength of students, the district should have a separate board of intermediate and secondary education.

The district coordinator of Alif Ailaan criticised the elected representatives of Chitral for indifference to issues and challenges faced by the education sector in the district.

‘Give every child his right to education’

CHITRAL, Oct 8: To increase enrollment in the government primary schools in Chitral, an education rally was organized by Alif Ailaan (Transforming Education Pakistan), says a press release. The rally started from Chew Bridge, the historical bridge built by Kalasha ruler Chew, and after passing through the main bazaar ended at the Chitral polo ground. A large number of students, parents, civil society and Insaf Students Federation activists took part in the rally. The students were carrying banners and placards inscribed with the messages asking students to “Study and change life.” The rally sought implementation of article 25 (A) to ensure all children in school. Addressing the students, Luke Rehmat, the district network coordinator Alif Ailaan, said “Pakistan is facing hard time in its history due to low enrollment rates and lack of education facilities.” He said 25 million children were out of school in Pakistan and so many were used dropping out after enrollment. He emphasized to enroll as many students as possible and also urged students and parents to ask their parents to follow-up their elected representatives and ask them what they are doing for education in Chitral. Luke added: “Chitral is the biggest district in KP but there is no board and university for the students although there are a large number of colleges in the district.” The participants demanded establishment of the board of intermediate secondary education and a university in Chitral. Nazir Ahmad, president ISF, Nooruddin, senior teacher, Zia ur Rehmat and others spoke on the occasion.

Kalash valleys on brink of destruction owing to flash flood

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By: Rahmatullah Khan
Kalash valleys remained cut off for 38 days06
No doubt, the country faced worst kinds of floods during the past some years but the losses in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and particularly in the hilly areas like Chitral and Swat are unprecedented where tourism, the only main source of peoples’ income, has badly suffered.

Kalash Valleys, which are situated at West of district Chitral, are among the areas are at the verge of devastation due to flash flood, eroding the mountains, roads and agriculture fields in the valleys, created fear lest the people having unique culture (Kalash) as well as the three valleys Bamboret, Rambor and Bareer should obliterate owing to non-stop erosion.

The recent flash flood devastated the valleys, as washed away the already topsy-turvy roads towards the valleys, swept away the agriculture fields and the embankments of the rivers, rooted out the trees of different fruits.

The communication system was fully damaged, disconnected the areas and the villagers plod while reaching to Ayun, headquarter of the valleys but the apathy of the local administration of Chitral and the government to prefer to troublesome of the mountaineers.

On July 3Ist, the worst flash flood was witnessed of its history as creeks flowing water just knee-deep from the hills towards the main river, were full of the water that took away all things came in its way including, standing crops, vehicles standing in the streams, homes and eroded the remaining grounds, made the way easy to rub next if flood would come again.

Exactly after two days, heavy and unabated showers from the eastern side of Bamboret valley started, and the main river swelled, brought heavy stones from the mountains and trees specially due to deforestation.

Since all the Kalash valleys are not wide like Kalam (Swat) but very narrow, therefore, owing to lack of land, majority of the residents populated at the river sides, and the flood damaged homes coming in the non-stop flood and sub-standard protection walls constructed in some parts of the river.

The flood then washed all the link-bridges, water channels, supply water to irrigation purpose in Ayun and even the bamboret and Barir valleys, pipe for drinking water.

When the flood rubbed the bottom of the mountains, the main road from Ayun towards Rambor and Bamboret was completely destroyed the dilapidated gradually but the government machinery was least bothered to restore the communication system for over one month.

The local people say that an old frozen glacier on top of the valley crumbled, which brought trouble for the dwellers and if the whole start flowing, the whole bamboret would be converted into a dam.

Bamboret valley is lush green as compared to other parts of the district Chitral and a very famous place across the world because of people having historical culture even in this modern time, has become a tourists’ resort, despite the untoward situation in Pakistan particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, foreign tourists come to the valley to see the culture of the Kalash tribe.

The government of Pakistan is pride of having such a unique culture and has been striving to preserve it in order to attract the world towards the valleys but no facility has been given to them.

Deforestation is on pick, the trees of different expensive fruits including pine nut and walnut, are being cut ruthlessly as well for sale in the market and firewood in connivance with local administration. It is regretfully saying that there is no check by the government on the illegal cutting of forests. Deforestation maybe one of the reasons of flood and erosion of the land but the government departments should take timely action to stop the destruction.

The people of the valleys are too poor to afford price hike, but owing to negligence of the government in restoring the communication system, starvation like situation created there because things food- stuff are unavailable. Some items if available are sold at exorbitant rates.

According to the Kalashis, there are some parts of the valley, from top to end of the river wherein standard protection walls must be constructed so that the valley could be saved from the flood. The people fear that if the old glacier crumbles or heavy rains bring flood in future they can cause heavy destruction. The residents have demanded of the government to impose complete ban on deforestation.

“Chitral is known in the world with more Kalashis’ culture than other culture in the district, so, these areas are important to be preserved for tourists. Therefore, the government should try to take steps to save the valleys from natural disaster in future and their greenery as well. I’ve never seen such dangerous flash flood in my life,” a senior citizen Ameer-ur-Rahman commented.

You can access the writer bellow:
Rahmatullah Khan, Reporter

http://peshobserver.wordpress.com/

Education Rally seeks improvement in Schools

Kalash, Sep 20: A rally was organized by different primary schools located in the remote Kalash valley of Chitral, to raise awareness about education and increase school enrollment. The rally was held in collaboration with the Alif Ailaan project, aiming to “transform education in Pakistan”.

Luke Rehmat District Network Coordinator chanting slogans while leading the education rally

Students from Kalasha Dur, a traditional private Institute of the Kalasha, and Kalasha primary school Mumuret (Bumborate) marched in the valley’s streets, holding placards and chanting slogans in favor of school enrollment. The placards were inscribed with messages asking parents to enroll their children in schools.

The rally started from Kalasha Dur School at Brun Mumuret and passed through various villages in Mumuret. They were also joined by students from Tameer-e-Millat. The rally covered more than 04 kilo meters area. Students were chanting slogans in favor of education through the rally.

Addressing the rally, Sher Alam, a teacher at Kalasha primary school Mumuret said that children should focus on education and must be obedient to their parents.

A large number of students and teachers participated in the rally.

Addressing the teachers and students, Luke Rehmat, the district network coordinator of Alif Ailaan project said that Pakistan is facing hard time in the history as almost 25 million children are out of schools throughout the country and an even larger number of students drop out after enrollment.

He emphasized  on the teachers and parents to enroll as many as students as possible and also urged students and parents to ask their parents, friends and family members to seek educational facilities for the valley.