Safeguarding Kalash heritage

UNESCO World Heritage

A workshop for the preparation of the nomination dossier for the inscription of Kalash on the UNESCO World Heritage List was held at the Lok Virsa Heritage Library. The workshop was held under the aegis of Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage), the Ministry of National Heritage and Integration and the Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM). National Heritage and Integration Federal Secretary Faridullah Khan said: “Keeping in view the heritage of the Kalaash valley and the threats posed to it, the ministry is keen to come up with a comprehensive plan for safeguarding it.”
He added that the preparation of the nomination dossier for the inclusion of Kalaash in the World Heritage List would be started soon.
He stated that the process necessitated the involvement of all the stakeholders, including the local governments, NGOs/INGOs, the provincial and federal governments. Khan emphasised the need for the support of the relevant organisations to fulfill the requirements for the successful completion of the dossier. He also assured his ministry’s cooperation for the documentation and preservation of the Kalash culture. The discussions revolved around the measures necessary for safeguarding the Kalash cultural heritage, including taking inventory of the region’s endangered elements; documentation of Kalash culture and preserving the Kalash culture in the Bamborate, Birir and Rambur model villages. Lok Virsa’s Executive Director Khalid Javaid said the Lok Virsa had established a creative diorama at the National Heritage Museum in Islamabad to depict the efforts of the Kalash people in its ongoing initiative to preserve the area’s indigenous folk culture.
He added that Lok Virsa had also published a book on Kalash which can facilitate research about the neglected area.
The present Kalash community is restricted to three parallel Chitral district valleys, namely Bomboret, Birir and Rambur. Collectively, these are called the Kalash valleys or Kafiristan. In the Birir and the Rambur valleys the Kalash out number the non-Kalash while in the more picturesque Bamboret valley the non-Kalash are in a slight majority. These three narrow V-shaped valleys are situated to the south-west of Chitral. In 2007, the local government department approved the creation of separate Union Councils in Bamboret for the Kalash valleys.
The word Kalash bears three meanings: it is the name of the tribe, the pagan religion and the endangered language.
The Kalash were in majority in Chitral and ruled the area in the 12th century. In 1320 Muslim invader Rais conquered Chitral, and forcibly converted the Kalash community. After embracing Islam the Kalash community abandoned their religion as well as their language and ethnic identity, except for a few thousand people who took refuge in Bamboret, Birir and Rambur. Recent history shows that the Kalash population is shrinking instead of rising. In 1951 the Kalash population numbered to 10,000.
During the last 60 years, the population of Muslims in Chitral is increasing at the rate of 2.5 percent per annum and the population of the Kalash has decreased from 10,000 to 3700. The participants who took part in the workshop were Archaeology and Museums Department Director General Dr Fazal Dad Kakar, Zakir Hussain from Survey of Pakistan, Inamullah Khan from IUCN, KPK culture department member Pervaiz Sabat Khel, Zahir Gul and Luke Rehmat from Kalash.


Related posts