A Kalash man wearing a long pink plume in his Chitral topi, a traditional hat that sets Kalash men apart from the local Muslim men.
The Kalash are known as indigenous people of Chitral, and their ancestors migrated to Chitral from Afghanistan in the 2nd century BC.It is thought the Kalash descendants migrated to Afghanistan from a distant place in South Asia, which the Kalash call “Tsiyam” in their folk songs and epics.
The Kalash were ruled by the Mehtar of Chitral from the 18th century onward. They have enjoyed a cordial relationship with the major ethnic group of Chitral, the Kho who are Sunni and IsmailiMuslims. The multi-ethnic and multi-religious State of Chitral ensured that the Kalash were able to live in peace and harmony and practice their culture and religion. The Nuristani, their neighbours in the region of former Kafiristan west of the border, were converted, on pain of death, to Islam by Amir Abdur-Rahman of Afghanistan in the 1890s and their land was renamed Nuristan.
There is some controversy over what defines the ethnic characteristics of the Kalash. Although quite numerous before the 20th century, the non-Muslim minority has seen its numbers dwindle over the past century. A leader of the Kalash, Saifulla Jan, has stated, "If any Kalash converts to Islam, they cannot live among us anymore. We keep our identity strong. About three thousand have converted to Islam or are descendants of converts, yet still live nearby in the Kalash villages and maintain their language and many aspects of their ancient culture. By now, sheikhs, or converts to Islam, make up more than half of the total Kalasha-speaking population.
Tach Sharakat Kalash (born Taj Khan Kalash) belongs to an endangered Indigenous culture and language community Kalasha (Kafirs of Hindu Kush) living in the wilderness of Hindu Kush Mountains on the border of Pakistan with Afghanistan. Kalasha are the last remaining pagan tribe numbering 4000 people speaking the ancient Indo-Aryan language Kalasha-mondr besides practicing a polytheistic ancestral belief system and Pre-Islamic culture dating back to 3000 B.C. Ethnographic researches on Kalasha origins point towards Proto-European movement in south Asia followed by second major movement through marshal-expedition of Alexander the Great.
Panorama of Kalash Valley, Chitral Pakistan where the Ancient Tribe of Kalash Celebrating Joshi, Kalash women and men dance and sing their way from the dancing ground to the village arena, the Charso, for the end of the day's festivities. Bumberet, Pakistan.