Spotlighting Kalash: ‘Saving this culture is really important’

By Mavra Bari

Published: October 25, 2012

“Together with discovering this indigenous culture and beautiful landscape, I wanted to show why these foreigners have settled here,” says Hayat.


We see ancient cultures collapsing all the time, that’s why preserving this one is so important.

This was said by Kalasadur Project Director Lerounis while discussing the north western tribe of Kalash and its indigenous culture on Tuesday.

He was speaking at the weekly meeting of Rotrary Club Renaissance, where screening of the documentary titled “Rediscovering Greater Chitral” was also held.

Kalasadur or house of the Kalash project has also been discussed in the film. Dressed in traditional Chitrali garb, Lerounis stated that his projects are carried out in collaboration with the local community to keep their traditions intact. “Preserving this one is really important. It’s truly a treasure, it should be treated like a museum and not a tourist hub,” he said.

Nomad Art Gallery Curator Nageen Hayat collaborated with Pakistan Television for the documentary to explore the Kalasha, their traditions, religion and the existential challenges they are faced with. The film documents the work of foreign aid workers, namely Greeks, who have been working with the Kalash to preserve the area and culture.

“Together with discovering this indigenous culture and beautiful landscape, I wanted to show why these foreigners have settled here,” said Hayat introducing the film. The film focuses on the challenges the Kalasha have faced in preserving their identity amidst tourism, challenges posed by modernity and pressures to conform to Islamic extremists.

In neighbouring Nuristan, people once practised the same polytheistic religion as the Kalash. However, by the late 19th century most Nuristanis had converted to Islam, which is emblematic of the  pressures on the Kalash to convert in the area.

Due to time constraints only half of the documentary was screened at the event, but the film was successful in portraying how foreigners adapted themselves and become a part of the Kalash community. Greek Ambassador Petros Mavroidis who has been visiting the area since 1994, said, “I feel I’m still at home, in a northern part of Macedonia. We have roots here, we are Kalash.” Construction projects by Greek organisations have preserved the traditional facades of buildings and factored in earthquakes as the area is prone to seismic activity.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 25th, 2012.


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