Why in news?
A top court in Pakistan directed the government to add the Kalash community, the country’s smallest religious group, in the census form; days after the same court ordered the inclusion of minority Sikhs in the Muslim-majority nation’s first census in 19 years.
Who are Kalash?
- Kalash, the religion followed by some 4,000 members of the Kalash community, lies between Islam and an ancient form of Hinduism.
- Dwelling in the folds of the stony Hindu Kush Mountains in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, the tribe draws its lineage from the ancient Middle East or even from soldiers of Alexander the Great’s army, academics say.
More about Kalash
- TheKalasha or Kalash, are an Indo-Aryan Dardic indigenous people residing in the Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. They speak the Kalasha language, from the Dardic family of the Indo-Aryan branch. They are considered unique among the peoples of Pakistan. They are also considered to be Pakistan’s smallest religious community.
- The neighboringNuristani people of the adjacent Nuristan (historically known as Kafiristan) province of Afghanistan once practiced a form of ancient Hinduism adhered to by the Kalash. By the late 19th century much of Nuristan had been converted to Islam, although some evidence has shown the people continued to practice their customs. Over the years, the Nuristan region has also been the site of much war activity that has led to the death of many endemic Nuristanis and has seen an inflow of surrounding Afghans to claim the vacant region, who have since settled along with the remaining natives. The Kalash of Chitral maintained their own separate cultural traditions.
The language of the Kalash is a sub-branch of the Indo-Aryan group, itself part of the larger Indo-European family. It is classified as a member of the Chitral sub-group, the only other member of that group being Khowar.