Echoes of the “Aryans” …
What is so striking about the Kafirs is that, thanks to their mountain defenses, they were able to preserve so many incredibly ancient cultural traditions. While the Zoroastrians and the Buddhists, each in their turn, converted Afghanistan, the Kafirs clung stubbornly to their version of the Aryan religion- a kind of ancestor worship combined with the cult of Imra the Creator, Gish the war god, and several lesser deities.
The Kafirs were the only tribes who successfully parried the sword of Islam when it swept through Afghanistan in the seventh century. In the fourteenth century Tamerlane tried to subdue them and failed; so did the Mogul emperors and the Afghan dynasties that followed.
Not until 1896 did the “Iron Man” of Afghanistan, Emir Abdul Rahman Khan, put an end to the guerrilla raids with which the Kafirs regularly celebrated their independence. Capturing the main villages in a surprise attack, he compelled the tribes to acknowledge his authority and to accept the Moslem religion. The government sent a missionary priest to each of the fourteen villages, and the name of the region was changed from Kafiristan, land of the infidels, to Nuristan, land of light.
During the summer of 1896 the tribesman of the upper Bassgal valley gave a great feast to which they invited people from all the villages, together with their fourteen missionaries. For the last time they performed the elaborate rituals and dances of their native religion: animals were sacrificed to Imra, the ancient songs were chanted, and there were choric dances around a bonfire fed with libations of goat fat poured over sacred cedar branches. Then, as the historian A.R. Palwal writes, “for the first and last time, but for once and fo ever, the heads of the fourteen Muslim priests were cut off to propitiate the Kafirs’ gods and to pacify their dead ancestors.”
Those who were responsible for this ceremony quietly emigrated across the mountains to what is now West Pakistan. The rest were, as we now say, reindoctrinated, but in fact Nuristan is one of those no-man’s lands, wild and wooly with frontier justice the norm. Lots of “accidents” beyond the reach of the authorities in Kabul, such as they are. In other words, carry a gun, lots of ammo, and given that you are expected to look after your own security, maybe bring along Chuck Norris.
Its a very particular culture. Most of the heavy carrying is done by women, the men, with flowing robes and Henry VIII berets, look as though they had stepped out of one of those Renaissance paintings in which the apostles are shown as Europeans in vaguely Biblical costumes. And, at these to and three mile altitudes, people can get to be very old indeed. Apparently, 125 year old grandfathers with mobility in a dignified way are not unheard of. When he was a bambino a Kafir had
be a killer in order to qualify for manhood; today murder is at least no longer obligatory. Noahide laws you say?
For those with a utopain bent, there is little that money can buy. The basic unit of exchange is often the goat, and much trade is carried on, if not with the actual animals, then in terms of so many goats’ worth of other commodities.
It used to be said that the Kafirs were the degenerate remains of “something higher” on the scale of civilization. But it now begins to look as though they were lucky to be locked in the alpine redoubt of their time warp, a five thousand year Reich, with its Sumerian harps and Aegian chairs. They can live to be a hundred, easily, and can freely breathe the air, thin as it is, that surrounds them; they pay no taxes, have no feminist movements, pink washing, or secular “progessive” modes of conduct, and they produce an annual net increase in goats without significant inflation. On any scale of values, which of the “Aryans” have made better use of their time?
(see link at end)…
There is not a single hospital nor even a minor dispensary in the whole of Kafiristan. The Tablighis have 4×4 jeeps, but few Kafirs have any kind of vehicles. Many Kafirs have died, when basic emergency aid could have saved them, such as during childbirth. The Kafiri diet is basic and monotonous, and one rarely sees either a male or female Kafir who looks physically strong. The women’s veins show plainly because of their malnourished state. Their characteristic long necks are dirty, and you only have to come close to one to know that they seldom get to take a bath.
Needless to say, Kafir culture is now nonexistent, thanks to the Tablighis. In the 1980s it was thought that the Kafirs as a distinct cultural group would become extinct by the end of the century. But they still linger on, though their number now is no more than two thousand. The government of Pakistan takes great pride in having established the Kalash Foundation “to preserve and propagate Kafir culture.” But the facts speak otherwise. It is true that the Kalash Foundation has somewhat slowed the steamroller of the Tablighi Islam. But it has not done anything positive for the Kafirs. No effort has been made to give their language written documentation, and there does not exist even a single standard text devoted to Kafiri culture.
Visitors to the Kalash Valley have to pay a toll to enter. The toll ticket given to the visitor is jokingly called “the zoo ticket.” The Kafirs and what is left of their culture have been preserved merely to cater to the tastes for the exotic of generals, bureaucrats, politicians and foreign dignitaries. Thanks to the Kalash Foundation, the Kafirs have become little more than anthropological artifacts. The World Wildlife Federation has been crying blue murder over the fact that only five thousand tigers remain in their natural habitat. Who cares that only two thousand Kafirs remain, despite a captivity-cum-protection program supposedly accorded them by the Pakistani government?
Meanwhile, the Tablighi are pushing to convert these few remaining pagans, and it is unlikely that the Kafirs will last very long into the 21st century. Kafir culture will end up–like so many indigenous cultures elsewhere–in the “cultural centers” of the big cities under the oversight of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. One may surmise that in future the converted Kafirs and their progeny will be engaged in fighting Indians, the religious minorities of Pakistan and “infidels” elsewhere. Meanwhile, in order to edify and entertain their audiences, Muslims employed by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs will stage exhibitions of Kafiri culture, dressing up and posing as the Kafirs whom the government and the Tablighis have systematically eliminated.
(see link at end)…At the core of all Kalash cosmology are the concepts of onjesta and pragata energies. Nangar Dehar, the greatest Kalash shaman and initiator of most Kalash rituals, entered a trance and shot two arrows, one red, one black. The black arrow’s landing place was to be the sacrificial altar and centre of onjesta energy, to be visited by only men; the red arrow’s, the bashali and centre of pragata energy, to be visited by only women.
All life forms, places and objects are accorded measures of onjesta and pragata. Generally, wine, water, holy sites, men and goats head the onjesta list, while women, Muslims and chickens are the main carriers of pragata. There is communal concern to keep the equally important energies separate. When women attend the bashali, their men do their normal daily tasks. In the bashali women can be creative and resolve personal issues without the stress of village life….
…revealed that there were no prisons or police in the valleys. And no written laws, or written language.
‘Our spiritual leaders, kazis [judges], maintain our legends. They can recite or sing all 4,000 of them. They will teach their sons to do the same. The shaman communicates with our gods to find out what needs to be done and informs us.’
‘What if a Kalash does something that is obviously wrong, like killing someone or stealing goats?’
‘It never happens. It couldn’t.’
‘But if it did?”
‘We would ask the shaman what to do.’
‘What might he instruct?’
‘To sacrifice an animal, so the village eats well, and we can all get drunk.’
I began to understand, or thought I did: there was no good and evil, just onjesta and pragata and their tricky identification and management.
Yet more wine landed on the table. Full of mirth, we drank ourselves under it and squatted on the grass.
‘It’s a strange one, Jonny; peace, tranquillity and merriment on the front line.’
‘I know, I was here on 11 September 2001, but didn’t find out anything about the twin towers until 10 days later. These valleys protect you from everything, especially yourself. It is a pity you leave so soon. Did you know the Kalash don’t have a word for goodbye? They never leave here; otherwise they lose their identity.’Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2008/jul/27/afghanistan.pakistan