The origins of the Kalasha

The Kalasha community of Chitral district has long captivated the imagination of both visitors and researchers. But one aspect that to date eludes and confounds historians and archaeologists is their origin. Starting with the once popular and now discarded narrative of their descent from Alexander the Great’s Macedonian troops, various theories have been put forth to explain the enigmatic identity of the Kalasha. But some more recent studies now suggest that their lineage is perhaps more close to home than it seems at first glance.

The Alexandrian myth

The Kalasha community lives in three specific valleys of Chitral: Bumboret, Birir, and Rumbur. It is estimated that the community has a population of over 3,000 – making them the smallest minority group in Pakistan.

A Global Human Rights Defence paper titled, ‘Tribe of Kalash: The last Kafir’ describes the Kalash people as animists and nature worshippers who refuse to convert to Islam and states that their refusal to convert as the ‘root cause of their marginalisation in the region.’ The Kalash people who don’t even make up one per cent of the population in the region, are considered ‘ethnically marginal’ and demographically insignificant.’ 

 

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