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Rs50m approved for Kalash endowment fund

CHITRAL: Special assistant to the chief minister on Auqaf, Haj and Religious Affairs, Wazirzada Kalash, has said the draft Kalash Endowment Fund Act will soon be presented in the provincial cabinet for approval for its onward tabling in the assembly for enactment.

Talking to Dawn here on Tuesday, he said the purpose of establishment of the endowment fund was meant to bring the Kalash people out of the abject poverty.

He said the Kalash families were bound by a tradition to spend lavishly whenever death of their near and dear ones occurred. To keep their tradition alive they have to take loans and sell properties, which puts them in dire straits, he added.

Mr Wazirzada said initially a sum of Rs50 million had been approved by the chief minister to establish the endowment fund. He said under the fund the bereaved families would be paid so they might not be constrained to sell their properties or take loans.

He said it was a revolutionary step of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government which would bring the poor Kalash families out of the morass of poverty.

Lavish spending is the cornerstone of the culture of Kalash people known for their primitive lifestyle and tradition living in the three adjacent valleys in the south of Chitral. Funeral ceremonies are the occasions where they leave no stone unturned to show off themselves, but which is also the prime cause of their poverty.

Kamazar Kalash of Bumburate valley told Dawn that the more one spent during the three-day funeral ceremony the more he was held in esteem in the Kalash society.

He said the Kalash people maintained austerity during the marriage ceremonies to save the money to be spent on funerals. He said when a Kalash community member died his body was kept at the jastakhan (community dancing hall) of the village and the people sang and danced around it.

During the period, the relatives of the deceased bear the heavy expenses of the feast given to hundreds of people coming from all the three Kalash valleys. The guests are served with mutton, wheat bread, honey, cheese and milk in large quantities,” he said.

Mr Kamazar said heavy expenses put a common Kalash into abject poverty, forcing him to secure loans or put his agricultural land or walnut trees in mortgage to manage hard cash.

He appreciated the provincial government’s decision to set up an endowment fund for welfare of the Kalash people.



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