Visiting the Rambur Valley Home of the Kalash

Visiting the Rambur Valley, where the Kalash live. It has been a long time since my last visit. I was thrilled to meet these beautiful young ladies.

The village scene at dusk. The valley’s steep slopes are used as a base for these lively dwellings.

Here is a Pashtun street merchant who was selling plates on the corner. The young lady is negotiating with the man, but instead of money, she placed some walnuts in the bowl she wanted to buy and handed it to him. They are bartering! The white bag behind him, to the left of the photo, is full of walnuts.

Going further into the village. The ditch full of trash caught my attention.

This lady was sewing on the terrace. She was using a sewing machine powered by her foot pedal. This is one of the beautiful sights of the Kalash Valley.

These young girls were playing a rock-kicking game. It is like an old Japanese children’s game! It really surprised me how similar it is.

The girls didn’t mind at all when the camera was pointed at them, and just continue to play their game. Some of the youngsters said proudly, “Foreigners take photos of us and publish them in books.” I really enjoyed spending time with these fairy-like girls, but the time came, and I needed to leave the valley.

This is the view of Tirich Mir (7,708m/25,288 feet), the highest peak in the Hindu Kush region. The view on the way through Ayun and Kalash Valleys, of this high peak, is one of the bonus scenes of this trip.

 

Photo & text : Mariko SAWADA

Visit : Nov 2021, Rambur, Kalash Valley, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

Category : ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
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Kalash Valley: November in the Bumburet Village

In early November, I visited the Bumburet Valley. If I had a chance to go a little earlier, I could have seen the Corn Harvest season, but instead I was there during the time of everyone preparing for the coming of winter.
In this time of the year, there are very few tourists and the village is pretty quiet.

We traveled through the town of Ayun to get to the Kalash Valley. This is the amazing view along the way. The towering Tirich Mir (7,708m/25,288 feet), the highest peak in the Hindu Kush, appears over the hills of Ayun. The massive form shines in the morning sunlight.

After crossing this suspension bridge, we come to the junction of the Bumburet and Rambur Valleys. We head west here and continue on to Bumburet.

The Kalash homes started to come into view. The wooden houses are built into the slopes, making efficient use of the terrace and roofs.

These young girls who were playing with a baby goat caught my attention. She has such a charming, fairy-like beauty.

I went up these stairs, made from a hollowed-out tree, to the shaman lady’s house.

This is the terrace of the shaman’s house. According to her, she has the power to foresee the future and find things people had lost, so the people asked her to become a shaman.

Inside the shaman’s house. With the light only coming in from the doorway, the traditional lifestyle of the Kalash people is simple.

These wooden statues stood in the village funeral parlour.

The handmade wine made by the Kalash people, I found it so good.

This woman is threshing crops on her roof. This is a scene that is unique to the harvest season.

It filled me with so much happiness to revisit a school teacher home in Anish village, I found daughter has now become a mother! I used to visit them often, so this is the best memory.

The last time I could visit Bumburet Village was 2 years ago. The Muslim population is increasing and the number of Kalash girls wearing hijabs was higher than before. The color of the handmade embroidery on the traditional folk clothing was quite popular and flashy.

Over the past 30 years, as a tour guide for Saiyu Travel, I have seen the decline of the traditional ethnic lifestyles and clothing in various parts of the world. For the people, the more things become more modernized, their life also becomes easier, so it means these traditional ways are lost voluntarily. But still, it makes me sad to see the sudden shift away from ancient traditions and beliefs. I send strong prayers that these precious ethnic minorities like the Kalash can hold on their culture and rich traditions as part of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

 

Photos & text: Mariko SAWADA
Visit: Nov 2021, Bumburet, Kalash Valley, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

Category : ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
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Kalash Valley’s Bumburet and Rambur

This is a video that highlights the scenery of the Kalash Valley when we visited in October. In the past when we visited Bumburet village, it was during the tourist season and quite crowded with domestic tourists.

However, by the middle of October, there were very few visitors at this time of year and the village was quiet.

 

KALASH VALLEY Bumburet & Rambur|カラーシャの谷(ボンボレット&ランブール)

 

Image : Mariko SAWADA

Visit : Oct 2021, Bomboret & Rambur, Kalash valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Category : = Video Clip KPK > ◆ Video Breathtaking Views of Pakistan > ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
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Religion of Kalash Valley

The Kalash’s religion is considered to be closer to Vedic and Pre-Zoroastrian cultures, even though it has a valuable existence that retains the old form of the Indo-Aryan religion. There is a God of Creator “Dezau” and many gods. There are gods closely related to life and nature, such as “Balumain”, “Sajigor” and “Mahan Deva” which appear at the Chaumos Festival and the goddess “Jestak” who protects the house. The place of prayer is called Dewa, and in each village has small altar at temple of Jestak han and the outskirts of the village.

 

Temple of Jestak han

Jestak is a goddess who controls the family, housework, marriage and each clan has a temple, not every village.There is a sheep motif at the entrance, Laternendeke ceiling which is typical in Pamir architecture decorations. There is a wood carving on the back of the temple that shows “Balumain” and there is mural painting from the Chaumos Festival.


There are two clans living in Karakal village in Bomboret Valley, and Jastak han has two entrances for each clan in one building.
The picture is Jastak han of Anish village. Designs and decorations inspired by goats and sheep. Laternendeke ceilings of typical architectural styles specific to mountains of Pakistan, Tajikistan and the Wakhan Corridor area.

 

The Gandao – Wooden statue

A wooden image created to admire the memories of dead person, contributions, and achievements. The production and rituals of this Gandao are very expensive and require a lot of goats, cheese and ghee. Thus, it can only be created by the rich men who are influential. In Bomboret Valley, two sons made two Gandao for their father and uncle, who died more than 10 years ago in Brun village in 2008. (It can still be seen in the Brun village cemetery).
The Gandao is at the center of the ceremonial place. People dance around it and after the ritual is completed, the Gandao is transported to the graveyard.

 

Cemetery Mandawjaw

The original burial of Kalash was to only put body in a wooden coffin and place in a cemetery. But about 50 years ago, they started practicing burial like Muslims. At present, things that seem to be whitening are old things about 50 years ago. In the past, it was said that if not covering the coffin, it was easy for the soul to free and naturally weatherable.

 

“Pure” and “Impure” concept

The Kalasha has the strong concept for “Pure” and “Impure” in their life. Therefore, there are many rituals to purify the things that they believe are impure.
The representative one is Bashari. It is a hut where women during menstruation gather and live together. Delivery is also carried out here, and after the delivery it is possible to return to the house where the husband is eagerly waiting after the purification ceremony. There is one in each village, and women in Bashari who are under menstruation should not touch others. For example, to pass the things to other person, She can throw it but cannot hand it over.

In short, it’s not easy to understand just by talking. You must visit here and see it for yourself !

Photo & Text  : Mariko SAWADA
※  The photo was taken during the visit between 2006 and 2014.

Category : ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
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The Unexplored Kalasha Valley “Where did the Kalash people come from?”

Pakistan is a very diverse nation. The Kalasha people are the unique existence among the various ethnic groups in Pakistan. They are part of the Pakistan-Islamic Republic but even though they live in Pakistan, they are not of Muslim faith and worship independent gods in a polytheist faith.

 

They were encouraged to convert to Islam in the 1970’s  but there were many protections put in place by the government to protect the Kalash people so in the past 20 years the number of Kalash have actually increased. The identity of the Kalash people is quite strong now and very few are converting to Islam. There has been an increase in the number of children, as many as 7-8 per family, so despite older guidebooks saying there are only 3,000 Kalasha. It is possible that in recent years, that number has risen to 4,000 within the 3 valleys (Bumburet, Rumbur and Birir) according to the locals I spoke with.

 

Where did the Kalash people come from?

There are three theories on this. One is that their fair skin and lighter colored eyes come from the descendants of Alexander the Great’s army dating back to the 4th Century BC. There was no real evidence that King Alexander passed thru here. However, there have been many tourists from Greece and NGO’s that operate in the area.

According to the Kalash people’s own legends and folk songs, the ancestors called “Tsiyam” are from the south, perhaps South Asia then moved to Afghanistan. The other myth is that their ancestors emigrated from Afghanistan around 2nd Century BC to a region in central Chitral and by the 10th Century  had a very established presence through the region until the 14th Century when the kingdom flourished. Gradually the conversion to Islam progressed all around the area leaving the three remaining pockets in Kalash Valley.

 

The Kalash people live in three village of Bumburet, Rumbur and Birir located along the border area with Afghanistan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Based on their language, there are hints of Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Pashto-based Kalasha which can all be found in their language. In the past, on the Afghan side of the boarder, there existed a “Kafiristan” where the same people lived, but in 1896, the conversion to Islam was mandated and it instead became “Nuristan” (the country of light or a country of the light of Islam). Due to this, the Pakistani side of Kalash people remained as a small minority.

The origins of the people remain shrouded in mystery, with their blue eyes and their beautifully decorative tribal clothing.
You are also sure to be captivated.

 

Photo & Text : Mariko SAWADA

Note: This blog was originally published in Feb 2011 on Saiyu Travel’s Blogsite “Salam Pakistan” but updated for this post. The photos were taken from 2006-2014 travel photos taken during my visits there.

Category : ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
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