The Kalasha and the Kalasha Traditions.
Some people in the world say that the Kalash’s have come from Greece others say that they have come from Nooristan. Again some westerners say that they belong to the family of Hindu’s or they are the same as the people in the Swat valley. Our own elders, Kazees and Dehars said that the Kalash belong to Tsiam. And Tsiam is in the west. Long ago the Kalash lived area stretching from Asmaar in Afghanistan to Gilgit. But now they are only in these three valleys. The custom abandoned people of Jinjiret ku and Utsun still speak the same language.People of all the religions in the world follow their religions because some of them might be afraid of their governments, society, parents, or may be because they don’t know enough about what they are doing. There is nothing like that in the Kalasha custom. Kalasha traditions are something done with happiness and joy.
Guideless Kalasha Traditions.
Nowadays there isn’t leader or true elder, which some say has contributed to the downfall of Kalasha traditions. Similarly the traditions and language is not written that’s why every body does things their own way. The Kalash had a book, but the forefathers buried it. The Kalash people believe that someday God will return the book into the hands of the people. At that time Kalasha people will surely become strong but until then they will remain scattered.
Custom of Resting from Certain Jobs in Certain
There are certain days in the Kalash custom that in those days certain jobs are forbidden. For example when the elders announce the festivals in the villages collectively, it is not allowed to wash clothes or comb hair. Similarly during the Chawmos festival the day when Cu’inari is celebrated the same thing stated above are forbidden. And during the three holy days in the Chawmos festival it is forbidden to go near women. Are there or were there other days and traditions like these?
Traditions for Measurements.
For measuring grains certain baskets are used. There are two baskets used for this purpose. Both of them are called bat’iinyi. Small one equals 2.5 kgs. Bigger one is made according to the smaller one. The bigger one can be equal to five, six or eight grain fills of the smaller one. For modern day measurements 20 grain fills of the smaller one equal to 50 kgs or 4-grain fills of the big ones equal 50kgs.
Units for Measurements.
OneBatee~=2.5kgs, 20batee~=50kgsand40batees~=100kgscalledone wa’aw in Kalash language.Measuring a grain with these baskets is called Rizan karik. It is done by putting the grain in these baskets until it is heaped up and until no more grain stays on the heap. For measuring land rope with certain length (measured with a hand, cubit) is used. To measure a piece of wood or the length and width of a building the unit hast, jis’t’ and a’n’gu’ are used.(distance between an elbow and the middle finger tip is hast, the span between the little finger and thumb is jis’t’, a’n’gu’ is a finger). Same is to measure a cloth.
Traditions for Making a Building.
Some people as soon as they lay a foundation they kill an animal and do the custom called Khodai. After this they start the building work. Nowadays Kalash do not make their buildings according to their own traditions. The Kalash made three or four story buildings straight up from the ground like watchtowers called kot’ the time when they were strong. They made a storeroom called Ghonj, Ma’n’yaks (shelves in the walls) and under ground containers for grains and wine. Long ago the upstairs rooms of these kot’ were only for guests and were called tharpur (the rooms above). The roofs of the buildings were made in a specific way called Ku’mba’pur to help the water drain off the roof properly. Nowadays people make buildings like Khows or the Kaate’s. When a house is completed a ceremony called durniweshi is celebrated. This term durniweshi means, “To write a house”. When the “Hand” (temple) is completed handsarik is celebrated. The term handsarik means, “To assemble in the temple.” The word “Hand” also means a house or dwelling place.When the Bashali building is completed a sacrifice of a certain kind is mode in order to dedicate it. What are the traditions for making an alter (deva).
Traditions about the Temple (Hand)
Hand (the temple) is called Rikhinyi in the Kalash valley Biriu. It’s a place a big room where men, women, and children altogether perform certain traditions. Every clan makes his own temple. The material to make a temple is gathered by the people who are making a temple for themselves. When the temple is completed the dedication ceremony takes place. This ceremony is called “Hand sarik” which mean, “to assemble in the temple” everybody is invited in the custom people from all clans, valleys and ages. When the people from different clans and villages or valleys come to celebrate the ceremony a custom called “dur ghriik” which means to block the door in order to stop people entering the new temple. The guests struggle to get in because the door is blocked by the strongest people in the clan, which is blocking and there is a big fire made under the hole in the roof for exhaust. Sometimes people jump inside the temple from the top saving themselves from the fire. When some one from the guest clan enters the temple he just beat the musical instrument inside there and then the blockage is released.“ Bal’ima’n’in” which means “the divine granter or provider” also comes to see this ceremony and to listen to the prayers of his people from Tsiam. Every hand has got a Jes’t’ak on which the blood is sprinkled when a sacrifice is done. All these Jes’t’aks in the ancient temples are set towards the west toward Tsiam. The blood is also sprinkled in the same direction.The temple is decorated with carvings on the wooden pillars and guarders. And on the walls too. Every year the young Kalash decorates it during the Chawmos festival. Different creatures like oxes and goats and sheep, stars and fish and different things are made by the young Kalash on the walls and on the wood of the temple and the previously made once are erased in order to make new pictures.The temple is used for different purposes like for celebrating the wedding ceremonies, funerals, and sacrifices, and for a festival dedicated to the dead ones.Dose Jes’t’ak or Mahadev or any one else comes to dwell in the temple from anywhere?
Traditions for the High Pastures.
After the spring festival or the sowing festival is celebrated and the month for celebrating this festival finishes. The new month start, which is called “gari nisik mastruk” means the moon for taking the livestock to, the high pastures. In the start of this particular month the livestock is taken up to the high pastures. Women and children also go with the livestock to the high pastures. They spend one night there and the next day they come back some stay for may be two days. When they are leaving they are given the cheese to eat in the way. And after they leave the prayer is offered by putting grain and milk on the fire facing towards west. There may be other traditions too. When the livestock is taken to the high pastures the first 20 or 30 days are called “band l’aw” means that nobody should take the things made out of milk home before these days are finished. The Kalash make different kinds of cheeses from milk. These cheeses have different names and tastes and colors. The names are sac’o’n’, c’as’a, kil’a’, os’la and maska is butter.
Traditions for Dividing the Property.
The property is not given to the daughter mainly but there aren’t any restrictions. Usually it is divided among the sons only. But daughters have their own rights. They are given livestock and other things for their home like beddings and other things. She and her children are given gifts. But it is her parental family’s duty to help her in all ways. The Kalasha are much scared of the curse of a daughter or a sister. To keep her happy is one of their duties. The girl of the family is called “Jamily” and her rights are called “Jamilan hak.”In the Kalasha custom the older son is given more. A man transfers his duties and rights to his elder son. But the house where the family lives goes to the youngest son. The rest is divided equally. What are the other traditions?
Forgotten Traditions of the Kalasha.
Like all the other religions and traditions changes have occurred in the traditions and the religions. Like kings monks and other religious leaders made changes in the religions or traditions the same has happened with this culture. Many traditions are no more practiced as they were. Like the wedding ceremony related to the sacrifice in the wedding many people just don’t do it or do not do it on the actual time. Kalash have adopted many things from the surrounding religions and traditions because they do not have any leader or someone to instruct them about their traditions. Before they were occupied they had their own affective systems in their society.
Traditions of the Bashli (Maternity Home)
When a girl goes to the bashali for the first time. The custom of tus’ul’ek is practiced there in the bashali for here. Some one who knows the custom washes her hands to elbow and then some bread is offered on the place called D’izalik and prayed asking for the health of the concerned maid then the food brought from her home is eaten among the women there. Some girls just stay at home but they eat and sleep separate from the rest of the family. And he or she who touches a woman in this condition or even touches her bed or clothes must wash his or her clothes and wash him or herself too. Like wise a women who bares a child girl or boy also undergoes the same custom in the bashali. And she remains impure for ten days or so. After this time of impurity she washes her self and all her clothing’s and then goes home. After seven days of the labor a custom called “undru uchundek” (To bring down) is practiced. If a man enters this building he is determined as guilty and gets a penalty. Children who die soon after they are born are buried in the bashali compound. And the women died during labor or in the bashali and buried at the graveyard but in a separate place in the graveyard.
Traditions of Field Farming.
Farming is very essential in the Kalash custom. Because they need wine or grain (wheat) and grapes to put in the fire or offer when praying. These things are put in the fire facing the west and then prayer is offered.For sowing the seed is taken out of sacs or set apart after the ceremony called “Kil’a’a saraz”. No one sows any seed before this ceremony is celebrated in the early spring every year in March or April depending on the moon. One particular clan takes out his seed and then the others follow.When the wheat is sowed in the early autumn before staring to plough, fire is lighted on the field and a prayer is offered by putting grain or grapes in the fire facing the direction where the sun sets. Some people offer their prayers when they put fertilizers in their fields. When the wheat crop ripe the landlord is suppose to offer prayers by putting the wheatears in the fire before he starts harvesting. And if a corn ear is found to have two heads with much grain on it is called to be “onjes’t’a” holy or blessed. Then an animal is sacrificed at the threshing floor and the blood is sprinkled on the ear and the meat is eaten among the corn threshers or the people beat the ears with sticks to get the grain.
In the Kalash custom one marriage is allowed. Some people get two wives. The custom say that if a person having a wife remarries his first wife is set free to go back to her parents or to marry again. If a man marries again and her first wife also marries following him he is not allowed to demand for what he gave for his first wife. Similarly if a woman having a husband remarries with a new man her first husband can marry again and can still demand for what he gave for his first wife.
Sacrifice for the bride and the groom
As soon as a man brings a wife he has to offer a sacrifice called “s’is’a istongas.” In this ceremony the married couple stands side by side and an animal is sacrificed and asked for their successful marriage. This ceremony is either celebrated in the temple or at home the blood of the animal is sprinkled on the Jes’t’ak. One of the couple either husband or wife can eat this sacrifice with the family not both. This ceremony was practiced as soon as a girl was brought in a house as a wife before she knew her husband but nowadays people don’t care. The elders and Dehars said that a child born without this ceremony was considered as a bastard.
In old times the parents of both a girl and a boy arranged marriages. If a man wanted to ask for a girl for his brother or son he would kill a goat or sheep or bull and the agreement was made between the heads of the two families. If a woman asked for a girl for her son she would put a necklace around the girls neck and the agreement was made between the women.When the bride is brought to her husbands home by her parents or brothers or uncles the marriage ceremony starts straight away. In the start of the wedding ceremony “ishperi” is served to all. “Ishperi” is the religious term for a feast. The bride is given gifts mostly necklaces from the relative women of the groom. All sorts of people come to congratulate. Meat, cheese and vine is offered to the guests. Music is also arranged.The next morning when the guests who brought the bride are about to go back, the groom’s family gives them gifts. And boys from the groom’s family carry them for the guests.
Love marriages are popular these days. A boy and a girl like each other and they marry. The boy just takes his girl to his own home o wherever he likes. But if the girl is brought home the marriage is celebrated as usual.
Custom of Marrying Fairies
It is said about certain people that they had married fairies. And their children were born in the world of the fairies. Although the fairies have no influence in the Kalash traditions still it is quite famous about many people who did not marry any human girls.
Custom of Marrying an already Married Girl.
A girl or woman who does not like to be with her husband is called a “don wal’I.” Which means a woman for whom you need to pay double. The person who marries this “done wal’I girl or woman has to pay the double of what had been paid for her the first time. Long ago there used to be crucial fights between the men and their families on this matter. But now people have got used to it. Those people who’s daughters obey them and do not leave their husbands they given to are considered as good people.
Traditions about Services
In the Kalash culture there is a reward for all services. For example in the “Chawmos” the winter festival when a family prepares food for the manhood ceremony all those who help them in this preparation are given special gifts according to what they did. And if some one is helped in harvesting and threshing the helper is given award or wages for his services. In the bashali the women who help to wash the clothes of a women who gave birth to a child are also given gifts called “piran mond’awal’i.” And if someone hires a shepherd for his livestock, after the three years services of the hired shepherd the owner has to give all the goat-kids of third year to the hired shepherd.For most of the heavy things that the Kalash do they do them through a custom called “yar karik.” Which means, “to make companions?” If someone wants his village fellows to help him in a certain heavy work he will go to them one day before he needs them and will invite them for this job. All those people who take part in this share in a feast after they finish the job.
Traditions for clothing.
In Kalash custom two things are very necessary for both women and men. Firstly they should always cover their heads secondly they should tie something around their waists. When the manhood or the women-hood ceremony is celebrated for boys and girls the boys are given turbans with special caps and the girls are given caps to wear them for seven days. Special belts with bells are tied around the waists of the boys and belts with no bells on are given to girls. It is said that this is the day when the young ones become Kalash. The Kalash women wear caps with a lot of shells and beads nowadays. But it was different before, the women just wore piece of cloth to cover their heads. And the women didn’t have too much beads like today and their clothes were made of black wool with few designs.
The Kalash eat all kinds of grains like wheat, corn, barley and millet and yet another grain called “shili.” And all kind of pulses. The Kalash also eat vegetables. There is a religious feast that is celebrated between the last two weeks of March and the starting two weeks of April. This feast is called “kil’a’a saras.” In this festival every body eats vegetables for supper.In meat the Kalash eat all meats, but the sacrifices are only made of sheep, goats, caws or dears and stags in the past. No other animal is used for sacrifices.Women are not allowed to eat the male goat meat in some ceremonies like the meat of some sacrifices and the honey brought from barns on high places. The honey from the bees at home is not restricted for women. These restrictions are not put by the religion because there are some cases where women eat all these things like they eat the male goat’s meat in the funerals and in wedding ceremonies and Muslim houses. And goat milk is also restricted for women for a period of time when the goats give birth. No other milk is restricted. Men are not allowed to eat the bread from the ceremony done to make the women pure. This ceremony is called “s’is’ au karik”Wine is made and drunk by both men and women. Wine is also used in the religious ceremonies. Long ago people stored the in some big containers made of stones, like the containers used to store grains. Restriction about not eating chicken is not put by the religion because the religion allows eating many birds but some the birds are not allowed to eat. Kalash keep birds as pets but they do not keep chickens. It is thought by some people that the time when Muslim families came to live among Kalash they brought chickens with them. In those days Muslims were considered as impure people by the Kalash for the reasons like the Muslim women does not follow the impurity periods each month and also when a baby is born. Similarly the Muslims marry to their close relatives like children of two brothers can marry. And because they do not offer sacrifices for purifications. The Kalash did not use to go into there houses and didn’t use to eat with them. That’s why they considered the chicken as impure birds because the impure people introduced the chickens to them. Nowadays the Kalash eat chickens.
Traditions in Sickness
For a sick man the religious ceremony to purify a man called”istongas” is performed by killing an animal on alter. And for a sick woman the religious ceremony of purifying a woman is done this ceremony is called “s’is’ au karik” Because it is believed by the Kalash that a person becomes sick after he becomes impure by committing a sin or breaking some religious law. There are some traditional people who find out if the souls of the ancestors or dead family members are unhappy with the sick person or not. These people advice to prepare a fest and give it to people or to kill an animal. These people are called “iste’n’ik garaw” if it is a woman and “thom kuchawaw” if it is man. Yet other people called “phus’aw” are called for a sick person or a person bitten by a snake or a scorpion. The word “phus’aw” means blower.” There is yet another party of healers called “baza bhonaw” and “khas piawaw.” These doctors tie the broken bones and use herbs and barks to cure a sick person.
Traditions about Births
Either a daughter or son is born there are the same traditions. Except for a son the word “mubaraki” is said to congratulate the family. This is a borrowed word. And for a daughter the word s’aidhar is used to congratulate the family. The family then offers a feast to all who come to congratulate. The same food is offered for a daughter and a son. The special dish, which is offered, is called “mul.” This dish is made of wheat flour and is served with the butter. And “ishperi” is also offered. Ishperi means a food containing wheat bread and cheese. Some people nowadays copy the people around and hold musical parties and do firings with guns.Relative women of both father and mother come to see the new born and the mother. This visiting of relatives is called “zanti au kai ik.” Which means to come with the food for the woman just gave birth. Women come to the “bashali” that is the maternity home. And they also come to the house to see the mother and the family after the newborn baby and mother come home after the impurity period is passed. Seven days after the labor women from mans house come to perform the tradition called “undru uchundek.” Which means to bring something down. Women come to perform this tradition with the food called ishperi. Then the food is eaten by the women in the bashali. The women in bashali wash the clothes of the mother for her when is suppose to purify her self after ten or twelve days. These women who help the mother are given gifts from the baby’s family. The mid wife who helps in labor is called the baby’s “gad’a aya” great mother. And this great mother is given gifts occasionally. After the baby is two or three months old another ceremony comes this one is called “dhak bhonyak karek.” Which means the celebration of tying the waist. On this very day the mother is purified with performing the custom of purification for women called “s’is’ au karik.” Seven wheat bread are made in the custom. Until this ceremony is not done the can not cook for her family and she is not allowed to do many other works. But after this she become pure and can do everything.
Traditions about Deaths
“Man can not do anything against Gods will. As a leaf falls from a tree and is separated from the tree, a man also leaves his friends and family and goes in Gods hands in the paradise. The dead one goes to a better place than where we are.” And the place where he goes he is welcomed by those who are already there. That’s why we should also happily say good-bye to the dead. It’s a sin to be unhappy on Gods decision. These words are said by the elders in funerals. If a man dies a funeral also contains the normal traditional dance except the songs, which are particular. One of the famous songs is called “KANAA BHUM” this song tells how death first came on man through a man called “Kanaa.” The dead man and his ancestors are remembered by telling the great things done by them. Nowadays when a man dies they also shoot bullets in the air. This custom should be a newly adopted one. Or it can be a replaced one. A dead body is not burried untill all the relatives and friends do not come and see the dead mans face. Every body in three of the valley is informed of the funeral. Nowadays they do not wait for more than one day. If a close relative of the dead person has gone to a very far country they do not neccessaryly wait for him to come. There is no fixed duration. If a family can offered the funeral for few days he does it for more than the normal three days. In ancient days funerals only some of them went untill seven days. When a woman is dead songs are still sung but dance is not done. In all funerals the guests are fed and taken care by the family and the villagers. The supper is severing with wheat bread and cheese or butter. And the breakfast is served with this pancake like wheat bread with beef and mutton and soup with curry.
Burrial and after Burrial Ceremonies.
A wooden coffin is made for the burial. Long ago the coffins were made close from the top as well as from the bottom. But nowadays the coffins are usually opened form the bottom. In old days some people some times put their deeds in the old coffins. Long ago these big rooms were made in the graveyards to put the coffins there on the top of each other. Some one from the Bazik family in the Broon village in Mumuret was buried in a room. They made a tomb with walls and roof and then buried the dead body. This was a very rich mans only son for whom they did this. When a woman is being buried her brothers or father put her dead body in this bottom less coffin in the graveyard. A traditional thread-spinning instrument is freshly made and put in the coffin with an animal skin bag a small one, full of food. With a man’s dead body a bow is freshly made and again together with a small animal skin bag the body is buried. The dead body is buried with new or at least clean cloths on normal wearing clothes with this beautiful robe called “chapan” on, the traditional shoes called “Kaus'” in the feet. And the turban called “Distar” on the head. The dead body’s face is placed facing the west. One day after the burial another custom called “Kushurik histik” is practiced. This phrase means to throw small bread. In this tradition on the very next day after the burial all the people in the village and the close relatives of the dead person throw small pancake like wheat breads with a little cheese at the place traditionally decided. Mostly it’s a nulla. Right after this the close relatives shave there beards or heads. And their “shok” starts this day. The word shok means to mourn. These people who are mourning they should not shave until the shok is finished. And they are also not allowed to go to the sacrifice place. And they usually not go to the places where there is some celebration. Mourning is thought to be an impure thing according to the Kalash tradition. When someone’s wife dies the man particularly mourns in a special way. This tradition is called “s’unguna nisik.” Which means to stay in a corner. In this tradition this mourning person puts on sack clothes and sits on ground in a corner and hides his face from people and he does not go out. He eats and stays separate from the rest of the family. He can get out of this place only at night when it is dark. This person does not eat or drink much to avoid going out for the natural calls. And he is made pure by sacrificing for him for seven times. Seven animals are sacrificed to make this mourning person become pure. A woman who’s husband dies also does the same thing. But to purify her the custom for making a woman pure is done for seven times. The custom called “S’is’ au” is done for her. Even after they are purified their mourning is still not finished. The mourning is finished at the time when there is some celebration. Before the elders announce for the festival they go to every village and give flowers to the families where there have been deaths.
Traditions for Offering Prayers
To offer a prayer the woman as well as the man must also cover head. They should clean themselves by taking bath, women mostly obey the tradition of cleaning themselves according to the custom because they could be scolded but the men don’t care much. For offering a prayer a fire is made and then if it is a sacrifice the blood is poured into the fire, otherwise wheat grains or gapes or grape wine or milk and wheat bread made freshly with dough without yeast. During all this every body faces the “suribihot’ik gehen” that is the west. And the elders pray. In every prayer they start with saying “Mul’awa ta dewa.” Which means, “Lord the spirit.” In the Kalash tradition almost everything is started after a prayer is offered. These are the occasions of prayers
When the goats are about to be taken to the high pastures the prayer is offered, when the sacrifice 0“Ucal’k batya” is offered
When they reach in the high pastures the offer offerings, and this is called “saraz dyek” which means to put the braches of the tree called saraz in the fire. When this branch is burnt it gives out a good smell. In this custom wheat grains or grapes or milk accompanies this bran
Before starting the wheat harvest the wheatears are burnt together with the ‘saraz’ branch to says thanks for the crop. This is done on the altars
Again before the crop is cut in the field food is prepared and after throwing one bite food in the field, first the entire people ready to cut eat this food. And then they start cutting that.
Some people do the same when they put natural fertilizers in the fields they give thanks.
When a corn ear in the field is found to have two heads in a special way with more grain. It is thought to be a blessing and is called “onjes’t’a.” An animal is sacrificed and the blood is sprinkled on this special corn ear and given thanks.
In autumn when the goats are brought back from the high pastures and the unsaturated male goats are let mate, prayer is offered in the ceremony called “bus’ bira mishek.” The ceremony of letting the goats mate.
Another ceremony is held concerning the livestock in spring, which is called “pay mocuna karik” which means to add the new live stock generation in the flock. Something special about this ceremony is that a male goat or may be a lamb is chosen and called “c’ir histila” which means the one on which the milk is sprinkled. This young male animal is called “onjes’t’a” which means the sacred one. This animal is sacrificed in some ceremony.
When the livestock starts giving births prayers are offered.
In the marriage ceremony a sacrifice is offered for the couple which is called “s’is’a istongas”k. When the wheat is sowed in autumn prayers are offered by making fire in the field and by pouring wine and wheat grains in the fire facing the west.
When women are purified by the custom “s’is; au when they are sick or for other reasons.m. When a sacrifice is done for a sick woman by killing an animal in the house.
A widow is purified with the same custom for seven times after a break between every two s’is’ aus.
For man who’s wife dies seven sacrifices are done to purify him from time to time.
They family where death occurs they purify the village by a sacrifice. The meat of this sacrifice is roosted and eaten, what is left over is carefully burnt.
A sacrifice is done for someone who has not been able to keep his promise or someone who swears falsely.
A woman who gives birth to a child is purified after some time.
In the “Bashli” that is the maternity house a young girl who goes there for the first time. Prayer is offered for her welfare. And a woman who gives birth. This ceremony is called “tus’ul’ek
same is done for the animals in livestock when the have babies.
When a house is completed animals are sacrificed.
some starts a new building some people think it good to offer a sacrifice.
A sacrifice is made for a sick man.
When some one is saved form a big tragedy or disaster he offers a sacrifice for giving thanks.y. All the offerings and prayers offered in the festivals and feasts are other than these.
A sacrifice is made to purify if someone commits adultery.The offering other than sacrificing of an animal is called “saraz dyek” in this custom some one washes his hands with the water form the springs where women do not wash clothes or themselves either or with the wine.
The hands are washed up to the elbows. This person is not supposed to touch someone after he has washed his hands for the prayer. Then he puts the juniper branch, which produces good smell when it burns in the fire. He also puts the grapes or wine or wheat grains in the fire.
During this time the elders pray.In a sacrifice two men go to purify themselves with spring water or they purify with the wine. Then they come to the place where a sacrifice is done.
One of these two sits and the people put the animal to be sacrificed in his lap and he holds the animal tightly and the other kills the animal and puts its blood in the fire with a piece of meat from the throat. Before all this the place and the animal and the place where the blood is to be sprinkled are purified. During this time the elders pray facing the west the blood is also sprinkled towards west.
Traditions about Pure and impure
The word “Onjes’t’a” means pure, according to the Kalash traditions some thing, which is, defined as something good, moral, holy and clean. The word “Pragata” is used to say impure and something impure is defined as something bad, immoral, dirty.
- There are certain places which are “onjes’t’a” because these places have got the alters near them. Women and adult girls are not allowed to enter these areas.
- There are certain places, which are called the “Pragata” impure. These are the place around the maternity home the “bashali.” And the places where women wash their clothes or take bath or comb their hair. These places are also called “anacu” which also means impure. But this word is only used to mention these places. And also in the graveyards the places where the women died in the bashali or during labor are buried are also considered as “anacu” or impure.
- In festivals certain foods like the sacrifice meat and bread are pure.
- A person who is not found to be guilty in adultery or fornication or murder or any other bad thing is said to be an onjes’t’a man.
- If a corn ear or a wheatear becomes unusually big or comes up with two heads it is said to be “onjes’t’a” here the word may mean a blessing.
- In the Kalash valley Biriu after labour a woman remains Pragata that is impure for 2 or 3 months. Where as in Mumuret and Rukmu a women can wash every single cloth that she had during her labor 10o or 12 days and can go home. Even after this she does not become pure she is made pure after 2 or 3 months. During the time of impurity a woman cannot cook for the family or go to certain places in the village.
- Mourning is impure and happiness or celebration is holy or pure. That why a man who’s wife dies undergoes seven sacrifices to become pure, the happens with a woman who’s husband dies. But these purification ceremonies are not done at the pure places or the high places, because an impure person is not allowed to go there. Those people who are mourning usually avoid the celebrations. The mourning family purifies the village alter too.
- Those three days in the winter festival which are called “Dic’” are onjes’t’a days. No Kalash is allowed to touch a non-Kalash or go to a non-Kalash house. Before this time starts the village is purified and banned for the outsiders to come in. And all women and men wash all their clothes at home and clean the houses and then the purifying ceremony is done. In this ceremony a lamb or a young goat is killed and the blood is sprinkled on the crowd of men only. Women have other custom that is called “s’is’ sucek.” Which means to purify the head.
I. He who leaves the Kalash becomes impure. Some of the people were expelled from the Kalash community because they did those things, which are disgusting according to the Kalash tradition like if some one abused his or her own child or those relatives, which are forbidden. J. There are some songs, which are the “onjes’t’a”, or holy songs. K. A dehar named Danok from Biriu valley has got a sacred book. L. Someone who marries with a close relative but not from the totally forbidden one he is purified in the “Chawmos” festival before going to the most high place. Where the Bal’ima’n’in or the “In” comes from Tsiam. M. The chosen male young lamb or the young male goat is also sacred.
Festivals and Virtues T
here are two kinds of religious occasions. 1. Which have a religious ceremony and a festival as well. Like zhoshi, Chawmos and ucaw. Three festivals only.2. The one, which only has a religious ceremony like a sacrifice, or some other offering but there is no festival no dancing no singing. But these occasions where there is no festival these ceremonies have got special foods and people share them in houses as well as at one place also. Like in Kil’a’a saraz and Precesh.The elders first in all the villages announce every festival first. Gatherings of the elders go to every village and visit those families where someone had died before this festival and after the last annual festival or feast. These elders than give flowers to all those people who are still mourning. This ceremony is called “shok chinik” which means to break the mourning or to put it away. The next day is a preparation day, in which people go to the pastures to bring the offering, or they prepare them at home.
This ceremony is celebrated in between the first and last weeks of March and April. This celebration comes before the sowing of fields. After this celebration all the Kalash start sowing their fields. This celebration is the first celebration of the Kalash tradition in the first month of the Kalash year on the fourteenth of the moon. The special thing about this festival is that every body eats vegetables in the supper. There are offerings on the high places but no festival on this
After about one and a half month later from the first celebration this festival comes. After this festival is announced people store milk in their barns where they keep their livestock. Those who have big flocks and milk in greater quantity, they do not start storing their milk from the first day. Those who have small flocks they start storing their milk from the first day to the tenth day. After ten days are completed women and children go to bring the yellow flowers from the pastures. These flowers bloom when no other flower blooms in the area. The next day early in the morning these flower are put in the doors of all the houses and barns and the temple doors. All the doors of the buildings owned by Kalash are decorated with these flowers. On this same day the festival starts, this day’s celebration is called “c’irik pipi”. Which means, “drink the milk.” The words of this phrase are the polite accents of the two words “c’ir” milk “pi” drink. In this festival women sing the melodious song “para para may bayaa zhoshi gos’t’ para c’irik pipi o shishamond hawaw.” Which means “I went to my brothers barn on the festival of zhoshi and look it is the time of c’irik pipi.” This meaning is what the words say but it can have another meaning too. Some of the songs sung in festivals have funny meanings some times they are about love. So women go from one barn to the other and collect milk for home. Every village has its own festival of the day.
First day of the Zhoshi.
This first day’s zhoshi is also called “tshatak zhoshi” which means smaller zhoshi festival. Late in the morning people from all villages come out of their villages dancing on the beaten drum. A ceremony called “gulprik” is performed in each village, in this ceremony the babies born since last zhoshi are brought with their parents and the ceremony is performed. Finally they all come to one center in each valley. The elders sing the songs
The Ucaw Festival.
This festival is celebrated in the month called “ucaw mastruk.” The rat’nat’ festival is celebrated for many weeks and then comes ucaw festival. First the elders in all villages announce the festival. The next day after the declaration day is the preparation day. In these two days the “rat’nat’” festival is celebrated. After the preparation day is gone the festival “ucaw” starts. It starts with the ceremonies performed on the high places or the altars. Offerings are offered and food is eaten on the alters by the men only. Women eat at home. After all this the festival starts, and it goes on till late night or till the next morning in Mumuret.
The Feast “Precesh”
This feast is celebrated in the month called “sharu mastruk.” The phrase means the autumn month. In this custom mainly male goats are sacrificed on the “mahadev” in Mumuret and on the “sajigor” in Rukmu, there can be other places too. Every clan does his own “Precesh.”
The Feasts of “al’as’ing Zhonta”
This feast is not obligatory. In this custom a man invites his married daughter or sister home. She comes with the family and the clan she is married in. Everybody that comes with her brings gifts for her brothers or father. The guests stay for one night and the next morning they leave. When they are leaving they are, the daughter or the sister is presented gifts from her parent’s. And she goes home with the gifts.
The feast and Festival of “Sarihek”
The word “sarihek” means to assemble. It’s a big invitation from a person to everybody. In this custom also a man invites his “jameli” home. Jameli means daughter of the family or clan. It is the same as the previously stated feast except there is a big festival in this one. The gifts are exchanged in the very same manner as in “al’as’ing zhonta.” Both of the festivals are celebrated in the month called “jani mastruk” in between the months of November and December.
The last Festival of the year “Chawmos”
The festival Chawmos is celebrated when the month called “Chawmos mastruk” starts. Chamos is also called “ghona chawmos yat” which means, the great memorial chawmos festival. The Chawmos festival is celebrated without using any musical instruments in the valleys Rukmu and Mumuret, whereas in Biriu valley they use the musical instruments. It is a series of celebration. This festival is celebrated after the Kalash finish all their fieldwork and store all the sources of their basic needs. By this time of the year cheese is stored fruits and vegetables and grains are stored. When every thing gets home then this festival is celebrated because this festival requires many offerings. And every ceremony in this festival has its own traditions, foods and songs. For every ceremony there is a specific measure of grain that has to be made into flour. It is the last festival of the year.
The first Celebration “Sarazari”
In this celebration the young generation under the supervision of some elders go to the high place where this celebration is always celebrated, there they make fire at two places one for women and one for men. Then the ceremony is begun with the offerings and a prayer on the both places someone washes hands and then the offerings are burnt and prayed. After this boys and girls sings the correspondent songs. They go from house to house singing and dancing. All families present them food and fruit. At every house the women sing a song called “kul’ani Jes’t’ak.” In this song they ask for different favors in the name of the “Jes’t’ak.” While this song is being sung the women hit a walnut with door side and sing this song. In Biriu valley they do not have this ceremony. And in Rukmu it is different from Mumuret. In Rukmu this song about the “Jes’t’ak is son sung on this occasion. It is yet different in the different villages of Mumuret. In some villages they have this ceremony celebrated for two days.
(The gos’ saraz (to offer offerings in the barns)
This is done for two days in some places and probably for one day at the others. In this ceremony men pray in the barns by burning the offerings.
In this ceremony children go to the mountains and bring these reeds to make pens out of them to use them to make pictures in the temple. They also bring branches of a plant called cu’in. This is an evergreen plant. They bring them to a place and then they put the offerings of dry fruits in the fire made there. They pray there facing the west and then make a chain by grabbing each other from back and come toward the temple singing and dancing. They bring the reeds and the evergreen plant branches to the temple and put them on the shelves made there. After this the children go for the barks from different trees to burn them to make the ink for the pens made of reeds. On this day women do not comb their hair or do any washing. They are supposed to do these things earlier. But the temple is cleaned and the pictures made last year are erased.
This ceremony starts as busy day because the children make pictures on the temple walls early this morning. Then people go to grind wheat for the ceremony. And at night people make goats and sheep and all sorts of different shapes out of dough. Songs concerning the festival are sung with any musical instruments in the houses and danced on them. Some of these songs are called sacred songs. Food and fruits are offered in all houses to everybody who enters the house. The animals made of dough are decorated. Then people wake up before dawn and perform the ceremony of driving the animals away. Which is called “shara birayak t’rat’rek”. Then these goats and sheep made of dough are given to the cows some time after and nowadays-Muslim children come to take them home to play with them because some of them are beautifully made.
This festival is celebrated for the souls of the dead people. All the relatives of the person died after this ceremony was last celebrated gather in his house and celebrate the festival. The festival is celebrated at night but it starts in the evening. During the day people take gifts for their “Jamelies”. Jameli means the daughter of the family. So people take gifts for their sisters and daughters. In the evening when all the good foods together with the fruit are brought in the temple, the doors of all the houses are closed nobody is allowed to make any noise. Then an elder goes and calls loudly to the souls of the dead saying “O gad’a bas’ara ew zhuy zhe pi o para” which means, “o elders and older’s come, eat and drink and then go”. One basket full of all kinds of food is put out side the temple door for the souls. During this time people stay inside their homes and keep the doors shut. After a while the doors are open and the foods are shared among each other. And the young girls who not married yet and the younger eat the foods in the basket put outside the temple once. After all this dancing and singing starts but without any musical instruments.
The phrase “sawel’ik hari means take away the basket. This ceremony is not celebrated in all the places. On this occasion the basket, which was placed out side the temple and eaten by young girls, is thrown away. People wash all there clothes in the house all beddings and everything. And they also sweep the houses and the villages as well to get prepared for the most sacred part of the festival. The village is purified on this day; one man makes a circle around the village holding a burning juniper branch in his hand. Then the non-Kalash are not allowed to enter the village.
This is the most sacred and important part of the festival. The word “gos’nik” means to take to the barns. In the daytime everybody washes himself men women children. And then in the evening men purify themselves by sprinkling the blood of the sacrificed lamb or goat. And to purify the women the custom “s’is’ sucek” is done. This phrase means to purify the head. Bread with ground walnut is made to purify women and then they are purified by waving the burning juniper branch over their heads and by sprinkling water on them.After the purification is done the gos’nik bread are made for the children. For the children who celebrate their “gos’nik” for boys there are two ceremonies “cel’ik sambiek” and “bhut sambiek.” Cel’ik means the robe and bout means the trousers and sambiek means to help some one put on. For girls too there are two ceremonies “cel’ik sambiek and kupasik sambiek” kupasik is the girls traditional cap.
After gos’nik comes this ceremony. The phrase “tshatak c’anj’a means the smaller festival of torches. This festival is also called “pushaw rhat” In the morning the children celebrating those ceremonies where their special dresses. Their uncles and aunts and grandparents from their mother’s side come with gifts and help them put these special dresses on. For boys there are robes and a trouser and a special belt with bells on and a turban. And for girls a cap and that black shirt with a belt around the waist but without those bells that are with the boy’s dresses. These children must wear them for seven days. Long ago this ceremony was celebrated when a boy or a girl became twelve or thirteen years old. But nowadays they do it in early age. Their parents are congratulated saying the word “sapa’n’ut.” And everybody who congratulates is given a gift by the family. In the evening these children with the special dresses are purified or made men and women for boys a goat or a ram is sacrificed and for a girl that “s’is’ au” ceremony is done.
The phrase “ghona c’anj’a” means the greater festival of torches. Everybody has to have one torch. If some one is not at home the family should make a torch on his behalf. This night the men go up to the high place to pray to the “Bal’ima’n’in.” this word means the Divine provider or granter. Ma’n’in is a general word, which means the person who delivers or gives the food in all ceremonies. And the word bal’i is used as a suffix and it means great for example “birbal’i bat.” He comes from Tsiam this night. He comes at the placed called “Indrein.” This word means the place where “In” comes. One person from each clan is chosen to offer the offerings. This is for the first time when the offerings are not offered facing the west. “In” and “Bal’ima’n’in” are the two names of one thing. All the offerings are made for this divine being who comes from Tsiam. All the songs and prayers of the festival mention these two names, sometimes complaining that this Divine being has left them alone, or saying that “O “In” your fortress is in Tsiam.” These last three days are called Dic’. These three days sacred and are dedicated for in and the Bal’ima’n’in. No Kalash is allowed to go to a non-Kalash house or to touch a non-Kalash otherwise he will not be allowed to participate in the festival. According to the traditions in old days people didn’t stay at home in these three days, men, women and children sing those sacred songs all the night staying outside. But nowadays nobody cares. But on this night while the elders and the boys with those special clothes go up to the mountain to meet the Bal’ima’n’in the women celebrate the festival in the villages. Men stay on the mountain whole night this is the only time through the year when they bow down on their knees in front of In or the Bal’ima’n’in. On this occasion the “roi” is given to a new man. In this custom the one who was given roi before comes forward. Then a little lamb is sacrificed and this person who was given roi last year on this occasion says that I was given the roi last year now I give it to this new person. The new chosen person comes forward and says I take it today. Roi is given to a person to make him responsible for all the sacrifices that are done for the whole community throughout the year. He is made the greatest priest. When the men are coming down from the high place the place where the In the Bal’ima’n’in comes, the appointed elder from the priest family says the prayers and asks many favors from the “In” or the Bal’ima’n’in. Each time he says a prayer the whole gathering says Hesh in a loud voice. Hesh probably means amen or praise the Devine one.
This custom is practiced only in one village in Mumuret and that is the Broon village. The phrase l”awak bi’ik means to surround or chase the foxes. There are no religious ceremonies in this custom. It is celebrated one day after the real chawmos finishes. Another custom called “praphand’awaka” is also celebrated. In this custom men dress like women and women dress like men. They cover their faces to disguise, so that no one knows who they are.
This festival is the beans festival. Children gather beans from all houses then they cook them at one place and eat them. They collect them singing the “kul’ani Jes’t’ak” form house to house. This ceremony is not celebrated.
The last Celebration “Ka’ga’yak”
This word Ka’ga’yak is the polite pronunciation of the word Ka’ga’, which means a crow. In this celebration the villagers gather in one house and sing the ka’ga’yak songs. Which are all prayers in which they ask the crow to bring them the things they need. It is believed that the Devine one sends a spirit in form of a bird which is a white bird and this bird flies among the crows early in the morning and takes all the prayers to the Devine one. Early in the morning, one person from each family comes out of the house with boiled beans and they wait until they see the crows. As soon as they see the crows they throw the beans towards them. It is believed that he who sees the white bird among these crows is a pure person because he or she can see the spirits. The same tradition has a different name in Rukmu.There are certain celebrations, which are only celebrated, in a particular village. There may be a lot of adoptions of customs from other cultures also. The festival “Chawmos” is the greatest and the last festival of the Kalasha year. It is said that the “Bidra’akhal’en” descends form heavens in this last festival. The word stated above means angels and other spirits come down from the heavens.
Traditions about Fights among the Kalash Themselves.
If two people among the Kalash fight with each other they are made friends by killing an animal. This custom is called “l’at karik.” If they do not compromise with each other than another custom called “saras kuru niwarik” is done. The phrase means to separate the praying or the ceremony in which the sacrifices are done or the incenses are burnt.
Traditions for Offering Sacrifices
The animals which are used for offering a sacrifice are cows
Goats, sheep and deer’s or stags or markhors. Two men go to become “Onjes’t’a’” that is pure by washing themselves with the spring waters. They wash their hands till the elbow. Then they come to the place where the sacrifice is offered. Some times people who have washed themselves already they wash their hands with wine on the place where the sacrifice is offered. And after they become pure they do not touch any one with their hands until they have finished the sacrifice. There are many kinds of sacrifices depending upon the purpose of the sacrifice. Similarly every sacrifice has its own customs. There are some sacrifices that they are cooked on the burning coals only and the left over is carefully burnt. There are some sacrifices that are only allowed for men to eat. And there are some sacrifices that are not eaten. Like the first sacrifice offered to make a mourning man (a man mourning on his wife’s death) pure. And the sacrifice made to purify a person who has committed an adultery or fornication. There can be many other sacrifices.
The Custom about being Impure
If during the sacrifices or during the other religious ceremonies where they burn the grapes, or put wine, milk, wheat grains or cheese or some other gift of nature to them that is allowed to burn in the fire made on the high places. If during these ceremonies some one who has cleaned himself to offer the offering on the fire touches someone one with those hands made ready to offer the sacrifice or the other offerings. He becomes impure he or she needs to clean him or herself again. If some one is care less about that he is punished by the supreme power. And if some women especially during their times make the high places impure by entering in their boundaries. The high place should be purified by sacrificing an animal there. If the offerings are made impure by misplacing them or by misusing them these impure offerings should not be offered. But if somebody is care less he or she is punished by the Divine power. A person becomes impure if he or she commits adultery or fornication with in his close relatives. It is also a sin to commit an adultery or fornication with any one. But with a close relative it is something very big. In older days these people were expelled from the village and the family and from the religion. There used to be a very special sacrifice for someone who did some thing like that. This sacrifice was done to become pure form such a disgusting sin. Some one who did that had to sacrifice a certain amount of the animals in a particular way. The theme of the sacrifice was that the sinner had to shout that “A pragoy ais ajo aza hawis.” Which means, “I had become impure and now I became pure again? The songs and tales and the oral history says that some times the tongs of these sinners did not help them say it properly and they failed to become impure. Some of those people left the world without any generation. But some of those people live in certain areas of the Kalash valleys. Most of these people got converted because they were hated by the Kalash. The Kalash people did not used to eat with them.They were treated like nonbelievers in the religious festivals and ceremonies. These people were called “Bhaira” in the valley Mumuret and “kushtya” in the valley Biriu. If a woman was caught red handed she was made put her hand on a little lamb or goat and then they used to leave this animal alone. They did not used to eat this animal or keep it. Similarly if some killed some one he was taken revenge or he had to give the price for the murder. People have given their lands and wealth to settle the matter. If this person did not do any of these things he or she was buried separately in the graveyard.
Khodai and the Deval’ok (God and the Spirits or the Alters)
Khodai, Dizaw and paida garaw are the words used by the Kalash to address God. And the word Deval’ok is plural of deva. All the Kalash prayers start with a phrase “Mul’awa ta deva.” The word Mul’awa means Lord or owner or master. And deva means spirit or alter. But the phrase above can have two means 1. Lord the spirit 2.Lord and the spirit.
This word has two parts, a prefix and a noun. The prefix bal’i is used to say that something is very big. Like birbal’i which can mean a big and wide stone or a piece of wood, and the word ‘Man’in is the person who divides or gives some thing among a gathering. The phrase then means a great provider. It is said that the Bal’ima’n’in comes from Tsiam which in the west. Bal’ima’n’in has been seen by the Dehars of the Kalash. Bal’ima’n’in comes to visit the Kalash on two occasions. First on the last day of the winter festival and secondly on the occasion when a new temple is dedicated. The Bal’ima’n’in comes to a place called “Indrein.” Which means the place where “In” comes. During the festival called Chawmos “Bal’ima’n’in” and the “In” both are remembered with the reference to the place Tsiam. All the songs of this festival have these two names only with reference to Tsiam. No other name.
It is place where the Kalash in Mumuret offer their offerings. The word has two parts it is like a phrase. First part is about a noun and the second is a verb. It means “In” came. Aw is the past of the verb ik, which means to come. This alter is probably the highest alters in the Mumuret valley. The chosen lambs or the goats, which are without any defects, are sacrificed here. The word “In” means they will come.
This word has no meaning in the Kalasha language; certain people in three of the valleys have brought this name from a place called “wet desh.” This name was unknown to the early Kalash. They called it a deva dur, which means “The home or dwelling place of the spirit.” All the altars are called Deva or Deva dur. All these places where the Kalash go and offer their sacrifices or other offerings have involved one after the other. All the alters are placed in the same direction.
This alter is in Rukmu. It is told that when the people of Rukmu first went there they only had this alter. The rest are introduced after. The word has got no meaning in the Kalash language.
This “deva” is in Biriu. Someone whose name is not yet here has brought it from the C’atruma desh. The word has no meaning in the Kalasha language.
A person called “Landra s’ay” brought this deva. When he migrated to Biriu from Majam. People killed cats and dogs on this alter in Majam. So the spirits got angry and destroy the place. But this boy “Landra s’ay” killed a white male goat on this alter and he with his grandmother was saved the rest all died. There are certain places which are only used by a certain clan or village.
All the Kalasha valleys know this Jes’t’ak. The word Jes’t’ means a stick or a freshly cut branch. Jes’t’ak is the polite pronunciation of the word Jes’t’. Like Batak, bayak. But Jes’t’ is a big stick also and a smaller one is called Jes’t’ak. It probably has no other meaning. But the people of Biriu say that their temples are the real or the actual Jes’t’ak hands or the dwelling places for the Jes’t’ak.
This place is in Batrik in Mumuret and in Kalash gram in Rukmu. In Rukmu someone from the “Bal’oe” family caved a stone and introduced it to the area. But this particular family or the village only uses it where it is placed. This word has no meaning in the Kalasha language. There are yet other alters like Prabazon (in Broon Mumuret), Ghrom devayak, which means the village, alter or spirit. Jac, Warindon, Das’goral’a are other places where the offerings are offered. People offer their offerings at homes and in the barns too. If they have to offer an offering somewhere where there is no alter they can make one with stones.
The word “Uran” means a year. Kaw is also used to say a year. Sometime ago the Kalasha had there own calendar, which was according to the sun and the moon. Some villages have 361 days in their calendar while others have 368. Nowadays the traditional calendar is changed and there are 12 months having 30 days except one with 31 days. And the one with 31 days is February. When the Kalash sees the moon they count it three and make 30 days in every month. But when they talk they mention 13 times in a year. They are ashamed to say that they have got more months than the rest of the world. The word used to call a month is “mastruk” which means the moon. And to say that it is a certain date they say that the moon has become 10 or 5 what ever.
In the times of trouble the Kalash promise or they admit that they will offer a certain sacrifice or do something if this trouble leaves them. Like if there is some sickness or any other trouble. Pledges are made between friends and boys and girls. It is made by shaking hands or holding the small fingers. And if someone swears or promises or pledges and does not keep it the spirit or Khoday punishes him or her. Sacrifices are offered for someone who does not keep his or her promise.
Customs about the Fairies or Giants
It is said that the fairies are mostly not harmful but they can be. Long ago a festival called “bhutri mishek” was celebrated in which the bad spirits were driven away. The magicians and the evil spirits are hated.All the Kalash ask for “Umbur zhe Majar” which means life and happiness. The religious ceremonies are done by certain families these people are called “dastur garaw” which means the law keepers. It is not allowed to close the door during a meal. It is not allowed to whistle or make noise during the meal preparation and the meal. Men not drink in the pots used by women. The places near the river where women wash themselves are called “anacu” which means impure.
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