The culture of Kalash people is unique and differs drastically from the various ethnic groups surrounding them. Nature plays a highly significant and spiritual role in their daily life. As part of their religious tradition, sacrifices are offered and festivals held to give thanks for the abundant resources of their three valleys in Chitral in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Kalash mythology and folklore has been compared to that of ancient Greece.
The Kalash are an ethnic group of the Hindu Kush mountain range. They speak the Kalash language. 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 years.
A Kalash elder, an expert in honeybee keeping, who died earlier this month (July) was laid to rest after his last rituals were performed in the Rumbur valley according to the Kalash culture. The rituals continued for three days. A Kalash community worker, Gamuk Shah, said that the elder, Verigush, was in his late 80s.
Gamuk Shah said that the Kalash community of the three valleys participated in the rituals in large numbers.
According to the Kalash tradition, the body was kept in the Jastakhan (community hall) where singing and dancing continued for three days as part of the ritual, he said.
The singers paid tributes to the deceased in their songs and extolled his achievements and services to the community. Gamuk said that the aggrandizement of the deceased is also part of the ritual and a deceased gets the pseudo-appreciation in proportion to his or her stature in the society.
During the festivities, forty goats were slaughtered to feed the guests along with 100 kg of ghee, 150 kg of honey and tens of bags of wheat flour while the women folk of the neighbouring eighty households prepared food.