Modernity and Muslims Encroach on Unique Tribe in Pakistan

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by Zebra, Jun 4, 2015.

  1. Zebra

    Zebra Senior Member Senior Member

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    Modernity and Muslims Encroach on Unique Tribe in Pakistan

    Kalash people’s free mixing of the sexes and use of alcohol are anathema to many of its neighbors

    By Saeed Shah, June 3, 2015 6:30 p.m. ET

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    The pagan Kalash people live in Chitral, a remote area in the far northwest of Pakistan. Photo: SAEED SHAH FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

    CHITRAL, Pakistan—The Kalash tribe’s annual celebration of Joshi, a unique festival that marks spring’s arrival in their remote corner of the Hindu Kush mountains, is no longer the carefree affair it once was.

    The festival is still a riot of color and rhythm, as it has been for centuries: Kalash women hold each other by the shoulder and swirl around in their customary dance, singing and whistling to a hypnotic drumbeat played by the men as they walk from village to village before all converge at special hilltop sites for their carnival.

    But this year’s festival, held in May, took place under heavy security. Less than 5,000 Kalash survive and maintain their mystical beliefs. The tribe’s ancient religion, free mixing of the sexes and wine drinking put them at odds with some of their Muslim neighbors who consider such practices sacrilegious.

    “If this celebration ends, our culture will end,” said Mutaram Shah, 80, a Kalash elder who wore a shimmering golden coat for the festival in the Bumburet valley, where he and other male elders engaged in mock fights with sticks amid the dancing.

    Members of this community say they are battling to preserve their traditions against two powerful forces: the encroachment of modernity and pressure to conform with the surrounding Muslim population.

    At this year’s festival, the women wore their traditional long black dresses embellished with bright patterns, heaps of colorful necklaces and headdresses adorned with beads and seashells. But some of the younger women covered their faces for the dance with scarves, in a recent adoption of conservative Muslim norms.

    Kalash children now go to school, where the girls come under pressure to adopt the chador, a wraparound cloth to hide their hair and faces, like the Muslim girls of Chitral, members of the tribe say.

    The threat of attack was also visible: Around 400 police officers were deployed at this year’s festival, along with a contingent of army in both uniform and plainclothes, partly in response to a long video the Pakistani Taliban distributed last year that warned the Kalash to convert to Islam, security officials said.

    Community members, however, say the steady erosion of their culture is the greatest threat to the Kalash.

    “Since I came here, people have been saying that the Kalash will disappear,” said Akiko Wada, a Japanese woman who moved here in 1987 and married a Kalash man. “I can see the culture is adapting to the nearby culture, the lifestyle is changing. It is worrying.”

    Many Kalash consider themselves descendants of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian conqueror who led his army into what is now Pakistan in 326 B.C. Anthropologists believe the Kalash are more likely the marooned remnants of an ancient migration from Central Asia to South Asia and Europe.

    The Kalash’s realm once straddled Pakistan’s far northwestern Chitral area and the adjacent Afghan province of Nuristan, a region dubbed Kafiristan, or “Land of the Infidels.” Muslims started to conquer Chitral in the 14th century, driving the Kalash into ever-smaller pockets. In Afghanistan, King Abdur Rahman forcibly converted Kalash in the 1890s to Islam, wiping out their culture there. The number of Kalash in previous centuries is unclear.

    The tribespeople now inhabit three narrow valleys in Chitral, where they grow crops and raise long-haired goats. Their valleys are accessible only by a narrow track carved into the mountainside. The Kalash language and religion are distinct, as are their pacifistic ways in a region known for violence and internecine feuding.

    “We’re a peaceful people,” said Muhammad Iqbal Kalash, sitting outside his traditional stone-and-wood house on the banks of a mountain river in the Rumbur valley. “Without the security now provided, we would no longer go to our dancing places.”

    Even in their remaining three valleys, the Kalash are now outnumbered by Muslims. While the native Chitralis are known for their tolerance, many Muslim settlers from outside the region have brought a harsh brand of Islam with them.

    Women are in many ways the anchor of Kalash culture. Confidently mixing with men and enjoying home-made wine and liquor fermented from mulberries or apricots at festivals, women usually choose their husbands—unlike most of Pakistan, where marriages are arranged by family elders. A Kalash wife can leave her husband for another man as long as the first one is financially compensated.

    “Kalash religion and culture has survived because of the women,” said Sayed Gul Kalash, a woman taking a break from dancing at the festival. “Conversion is a silent killer. When someone leaves their religion, they leave their language and culture too.”

    Kalash men have adopted the shalwar kameez, the baggy shirt-and-trousers combination worn by men throughout the rest of Pakistan. The men say they are encouraged by Muslims neighbors to shave, so they are not mistaken for Muslims.

    The Kalash have adopted Muslim names, while the now-educated young men are reluctant to tend goats, an animal considered pure by the Kalash and an important part of their religion.

    With no written tradition and no sacred book, many Kalash find their religion, a faith of shamans and animal sacrifice, hard to explain. They believe in one supreme God, but other deities function as intermediaries.

    Cellphone service, another intrusion of the modern world, arrived in some Kalash areas only this year. But while modernization has taken some Kalash away from their home valleys and beliefs, it has also made many of them prouder of their unique heritage.



    “There is now awareness of our culture,” said Meeta Gul, a mother of two in Rumbur. “Educated Kalash don’t convert.”
     
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  3. Raja.pakistani

    Raja.pakistani Regular Member

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    Dont know when we will stop confusing modernity with westernisation..You are modern if you get drunk on every weekend and bring a nice stranger for one night stand
     
  4. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    Where did the above article favour one-night stand!
     
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  5. Raja.pakistani

    Raja.pakistani Regular Member

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    They are saying kalsh are modern because they drink wine and allow free mixing of gender etc so basically our people judge modernity through the glasses of western culture. You are modern and open mind if you do what western does
     
  6. Rowdy

    Rowdy Co ja kurwa czytam! Senior Member

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    Nope. They are not modern...they have independently developed a culture far superior to the whole of the islamic world. They allow free mixing of sexes and freedom of life to everyone. Sadly no matter what you type here, they will be give Dawat-e-Islam in pursuit of Jannah.
     
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  7. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    When did free-mixing of sexes become equal to one-night stand!!
     
  8. Raja.pakistani

    Raja.pakistani Regular Member

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    Every culture has its good and bad. Not all western culture is entirely good and not all eastern culture or its practices are entirely evil. They have their strengths and weakness and we have our ups and down. You can still be modern without drinking alchoal or free sex.
     
  9. Raja.pakistani

    Raja.pakistani Regular Member

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    Tum baal ki khaal kyoon nikaltey hoo. I refer to one night stand because some of us think everything western does is sign of modernity even if its one night stand or swapping wives :)
     
  10. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    haha. Point taken. Not every western value is modern.
     
  11. Rowdy

    Rowdy Co ja kurwa czytam! Senior Member

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    Yup.
    One can be modern without free sex and alcohol. Agree.
    Also Agree that not all west is good and east is bad.
    Yup Also agree that every culture has +ve and -ve.
    My point was that these people specifically have a superior culture as a whole than that of the whole islamic world. Thats it.
     
  12. Raja.pakistani

    Raja.pakistani Regular Member

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    Exactly. Modernity exist in thought, tolerance and to concentrate on yourself more than others. Modernity is allowing freedom of choice even if you consider it wrong choice and don't go for it personally. There are all sort of people in multi culture society and you should not expect from everyone to have same values or interpretation of morality
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2015
  13. Raja.pakistani

    Raja.pakistani Regular Member

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    Islamic world dont have one culture so it dont make sense to say that their culture is superior to culture of Islamic world. Pakistani Muslim have different culture than Chinese or Indonesian Muslims. Persian Muslims have different culture than Arabic Muslims so what do you mean by culture of Islamic world?

    Living culture of kalash peope in Pakistan is proof that they were not forced to convert or give up their culture . They are allowed to drink wine which Pakistani Muslim don't. Non Muslims can eat pork as well as we will not put ban on pork the way Indian did ban on slaughter of cow in different states
     
  14. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    You do not have to ban pork because you prefer to blow up the followers of other religions.
     
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  15. Rowdy

    Rowdy Co ja kurwa czytam! Senior Member

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    That comparison is not apt. As pork is filthy by islamic standards, and cow is holy by indian standards.
    A better analogy
    Burning of Koran=Cow slaughter.​
    Yup this is a better analogy. So is burning of Koran or use as toilet paper thereof is allowed and safe+legal in Pak?
    Take any one of these cultures. Even all of them put together do not have an indigenous IC engine. Another commonality is that we can find radicals from all these countries. So ... I encapsulate them as one... now which of these cultures offers more freedom than these "pagans"
     
  16. Raja.pakistani

    Raja.pakistani Regular Member

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    lol see your indian logic we are all terrorist and extremist sould. When you will grow up?
     
  17. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    Sadly, the opinion is rigid but true nevertheless.
     
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  18. Raja.pakistani

    Raja.pakistani Regular Member

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    Wrong. Its all about giving freedom to people to eat whatever they like. Its all about giving freedom to peope to live and eat according to their scripture. If a Muslim want to eat beef then why he should not? When a non Muslim ike to eat pork and drink wine then why he should not? Why non hindu should live according to hindu scripture or non muslim should live and eat according to Muslim scripture. Burning of Quran should be equal to burning of geeta or bible or any religious scriptures
    Thats your personal choice if you find culture of kalash more appealing than rest of Islamic world. I bet you dont have knowledge of all cultures exist in Islamic world. Everyone feel different about different culture . You will be surprise to see that there are many Sikhs who are living in tribal areas of Pakistan and speak pashtu. These are areas where even Punjabi Muslims hesitate to go because they have different tribal culture and sikhs there have all sort of freedom in there. We should not limited our brain and should think outside of the box. Even Kalsh are Pakistani people so there are many different culture even in Pakistan. I can say that people of mizoram have superior culture than rest of Indian culture ..kush?
     
  19. Mad Indian

    Mad Indian Proud Bigot Veteran Member Senior Member

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    Should that not be obvious? Barbarity will obviously be inferior to any culture of any form.
     
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  20. Raja.pakistani

    Raja.pakistani Regular Member

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    True for Indian off course

    by that logic you are all rapist because there are many rape cases come from India
     
  21. Mad Indian

    Mad Indian Proud Bigot Veteran Member Senior Member

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    1. People burning Geeta wont be killed in the streets in India or Nepal. Persecuted by court perhaps but still won't be bombed to death or stoned to death without any trial like it happens in barbaric parts of the world.

    2. You can also claim Pakistanis are peace loving people. That won't make it true
     
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