Kalash people

Indigenous ethnoreligious group residing in Chitral, Pakistan This article is about the Kalasha of Chitral. For the Kalasha of Nuristan, see Nuristani people. For other uses, see Kalash (disambiguation).

The Kalasha (Kalasha: کاࣇاشؕا, romanised: Kaḷaṣa; Kalasha-ala: Kalaṣa; Urdu: کالاش‎), or Kalash, also called Waigali or Wai, are a Dardic Indo-Aryan 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 people of Pakistan. They are also considered to be Pakistan's smallest ethnoreligious group, and traditionally practice a religion which some authors characterise as a form of animism, while academics classify it as "a form of ancient Hinduism". During the mid-20th century an attempt was made to put force on a few Kalasha villages in Pakistan to convert to Islam, but the people fought the conversion and, once official pressure was removed, the vast majority resumed the practice of their own religion. Nevertheless, about half of the Kalasha have since gradually converted to Islam, despite being shunned afterward by their community for having done so.

The term is used to refer to many distinct people including the Väi, the Čima-nišei, the Vântä, plus the Ashkun- and Tregami-speakers. The Kalash are considered to be an indigenous people of Asia, with their ancestors migrating to Chitral valley from another location possibly further south, which the Kalash call "Tsiyam" in their folk songs and epics. Some of the Kalash traditions consider the various Kalash people to have been migrants or refugees. They are also considered by some to have been descendants of Gandhari people.

The neighbouring Nuristani people (including the Kalasha-ala) of the adjacent Nuristan (historically known as ...read more

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