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Experts highlight threats to Kalash culture

PESHAWAR: Experts at a seminar here stressed the need for steps to preserve the Kalash culture of Chitral.

They said that Kalash valley would be the first in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to have an inventory of ICH elements. They said that a list of 45 ICH items of Kalash would be handed over to federal government for sending it to Unseco.

The speakers said that called upon communities, particularly indigenous ones, groups and in some cases individuals to play role in production, safeguarding, maintenance and recreation of ICH to enrich cultural diversity and human creativity.

Prof Sajida Haider Vandal, chief executive of Trust for History, Arts and Architecture, Pakistan (THAAP), in her remarks said that Kalash tribe comprising around 4,500 people owned a unique culture. She said that her organisation had been working on an inventory of intangible cultural heritage of Kalash for the last two years and had prepared a list of about 45 such items from three Kalash valleys that were in urgent need of safeguarding.

Prof Sajida said that a number of Kalash schoolteachers and social activists had been trained. She said that her team of experts would explore Kalash valley for maximum profiling of ICH items. Prof Sajida said that training was imparted to around 30 persons for mapping of intangible cultural heritage. She added that Kalash tribe was bearer of ancient culture and its own belief system should be protected.

Prof Sarfaraz Khan, director of Area Study Centre, said that Chitral was rich with both tangible and intangible heritage. He said that students from Kalash tribe would be extended an all-out support at Area Study Centre. He said that local students should come forward to explore indigenous culture. “One seat to any aspiring Kalash student would be offered for doing research on Kalash culture from next academic session,” announced Prof Sarfaraz.

Imran Kabeer, a schoolteacher and cultural activist from Kalash valley, said that their culture was facing many threats, both internal and external. He said that it was need of the hour to create awareness among the young generation about significance of ICH.

Ms Nimra, another participant of the workshop, said that cultural mapping of Chitral district particularly Kalash valley was important to save a unique culture from being vanished.

Later, a short documentary on Suri Jagek a traditional Kalash meteorological and astronomical practice of observing the sun, the moon, stars and shadows was screened.


Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2017

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