The Story Of The Free-spirited Wine Drinking Tribe Of Pakistan
The existence of Pakistan is integrally tied to Islam. High up in the mountains, masked by high altitudes, beneath fresh skies, enclosed by plush rivers are a unique group of light skinned people that belong to a unique religion. These indigenous folks call themselves the people of Kalash.
The origin of the group is a mystery but DNA samples of people from the group taken by researchers prove that they are descendants of Alexander the Great. It has been speculated that Alexander left behind the Macedonian army which led to the formation and settlement of this tribe in this region.
With no association to Islam, this small tribe comprising of around 4000 people follow their own adapted religion which comprises of worshiping nature. It is similar to Paganism where the theme is of spiritual connection and humble gratitude towards nature and its surroundings. Obviously flora and fauna play an indispensable role in their lifestyle, as the adults manage crops and livestock for their livelihood and survival.
The Kalash people believe in one deity with various gods and goddesses as messengers. In order to communicate with the divine, they offer goat as a sacrifice. There is also no sexual repression or an emphasis on a dress code within their culture. People within this community are free express themselves, free to marry anyone they desire and can break it off when things don’t work out. Their community loves celebrations, particularly their unique harvest festivals where men and women drink wine, dance and celebrate.
On being quizzed by Islamic scholars about why they made wine, Yasir Kalash told Washington Post that: “We make wine because it’s our culture. We use wine in our rituals, we use wine to cook, and we use wine because, in our mind, wine is purification.”
Despite being surrounded by Muslims, they retain their own identity and staunch beliefs which are so fascinatingly unique that their lifestyle has garnered the attention of anthropologists from around the world.
For years they lived in harmony but when Pakistan separated from India and majority of the Muslims moved into these valleys, drawn by the crisp weather, untouched woodlands and lush pastures, things began to change. When members of contra faith became a majority in this region, many Kalash men and women were forcibly converted to Islam. To seek refuge from radical extremists and militant groups the remaining community moved into higher mountain passes.
A few years ago a girl was forcibly converted, when the tribe intervened they were told Islamic conversion couldn’t be undone. As a result the girl was separated from her parents and had to leave the Kalash community.
Nonexistent tourism, lack of protection, no legal aid to guarantee safety, is sadly making the survival and conservation of the Kalash group a blurry vision.
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