Pakistan

Cultural Dresses of Balochistan | The Lovely Planet

Cultural Dresses of Balochistan | The Lovely Planet.

Balochistan is the largest province of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in area which is also the richest province in terms of natural resources. But unfortunately, the people of Balochistan are the poorest and the most backward as compare to other parts of the country. There are many reasons for their retardation like the lack of education, slowness in development, ignorance by the authorities, typical tribal system and the everlasting abnormal situation.

But all this has never stopped the Baloch people to continue their lives with their unique traditions and customs. Although the modernization has put some effects upon the centuries old culture of the Baloch people, however, the colors of their culture is much reflected from their day to day affairs even, today. This might not be wrong to say that the most prestigious thing near to Balochs is their culture. Obviously, like many other ancient cultures of the world, where the traditional dresses have much significance, the enlightening feature of the Baloch culture is also their cultural dress. The cultural dresses of Balochistan are called as “phashik” in the Balochi language.

A group of Balochi folk dancers ( Image : mana008 )

A group of Balochi folk dancers ( Image : mana008 )

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Goddesses of the Kalasha

Goddesses of the Kalasha.

One of the last peoples of western Asia to retain their aboriginal culture are the Kalasha of upper Pakistan. They speak an ancient Indo-Iranian language, Dardic, which conserves very ancient features. They took refuge in the mountains of Chitral a long time ago, surviving many waves of invaders. One of the last of these named them Kafir Kalash, “Black Pagans,” after the black robes of the women, and their refusal to convert to Islam. The individual tribes call themselves by older names: Kati, Kom, Vasi, Presun.

Kafiristan, shown in lower center

Kafiristan, shown in lower center

A neighboring group of Kalash people speak a different Indo-Iranian language but shared many cultural ideas and deities. [Witzel, 2] They live in the northwestern region of Afghanistan, which Muslims dubbed Kafiristan, Land of Pagans. In 1895-96, the Afghan emir Abdur Rahman Khan led an attack on the country, declaring “that either the Kafirs would be converted to Islam or be wiped off the face of the earth… Even the names of their villages were Islamised.” [Zaidi, online]

The emir’s armies forcibly converted the Kalasha, and  destroyed their temples and icons. “Altars were burned, priests murdered, boys kidnapped and conscripted to military school in Kabul. Only several hundred Kati Kafirs (the Red Kafirs of the Bashgal Valley) managed to flee across the border.” [Witek, online] The conqueror renamed the region Nuristan, “Land of Light,” symbolizing what he saw as their rescue from pagan darkness.

On the Pakistani side, the Chitrali Kalash have lived under steady pressure to convert to Islam, and about half the remaining populations have done so, to date. Three valleys, with about 3500 inhabitants, hold on to their ancient culture. [Mohammed Bugi, personal communication, June 5, 2013] They are like a besieged island, trying to survive surrounded by the dominant, highly conservative Pakistani society, with the added pressures of poverty and tourist bombardments.

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Kalashi Girl(North Pakistan)

 

 

By Max Loxton

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yasirnisar/2736566543/

 

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