The “Aryans” no longer exist; yet a distant murmur of their lost language lives still, spoken a handful from a tribe of Nuristanis…
Some of the available evidence as to their cultural origin is certainly puzzling. They live in wooden houses ornamented with carvings that resemble those of the Balkans or the Pyrenees. They use chairs and tables rather than sit on the ground, as their neighbors do- but the chairs have curved rawhide seats like those of the ancient Aegean. Until their conversion to Islam the Kafirs made wine and poured libations, like the classical Greeks. In their athletic games they toss a stone shot-put and a sort of discus. They play a four-stringed harp, the waj, which is unlike any instrument found in the world today but closely resembles the angle harps of ancient Sumer, dating from the third millennium B.C. The music theyplay on it sounds tunefully Balkan rather than Asian, with rippling melodies that are tinged with a certain melancholy.
But it is the antiquity of their language that provides the best clue to their past. An authority on Indo-Aryan languages, Georg Morgenstierne, once said that Kafiri, “probably derived from the language of an early wave of Aryan invaders, forerunners of the later…tribes pushing on, from Central Asia, towards the plains of India. The ancestors of the later Kafirs were then pushed back by these their more numerous and stronger successors into the remote and till recently inaccessible valleys where they have been able to preserve, not only their ancient religion but a number of special cultural features, such as sitting on chairs, drinking wine, and so on.”
None of this has any bearing on the thoroughly discredited Aryan myth so far as it pertains to Europe. Archaeologists and linguists now agree that the word “Aryan” cannot be used to describe a race, but only those people who spoke the early Indo-Aryan languages.One thing emerges from prehistory: a great migration of peoples began in Asia around the second millennium B.C.:they are probably the same “Aryas” who are mentioned later in Vedic literature.Waves of these invaders laid the foundations of the present population of the Iranian plateau and the Indian subcontinent, giving it an Indo-European language base. What they looked like, no one is now in a position to ascertain; perhaps some of thm did resemble the Kafir villagers. But the present day inhabitants of the Hindu Kush are so far removed from the mysterious original Aryans in time that they can no longer serve as a valid anthropological “control group.”
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Once the Afghan refugees and the Tablighis became entrenched in Chitral, the forced conversion of the Kafirs began. Gun-toting Tablighis made it clear that in order to go on living in Pakistan (Pakistan means “Land of the Pure”) the Kafirs must convert to Islam. For the Kafirs any place beyond the Kalash Valley is as alien as Mars. The kidnapping and forced marriage–and hence forced conversion–of the Kafir women to the Muslims, mostly Tablighi Pathans, continues t
is day. These women are not allowed to see their relatives unless the relatives also convert. It is no secret that many of these women are sold at auction. Men are circumcised against their will. The Tablighis carry klashnikovs as a matter of routine and have killed many Kafirs who resisted conversion to the Tablighi Islam. No Kafir is allowed to carry a gun.
The poverty of the Kafirs has also been a big factor in their conversion to Tablighi Islam. Within the Chitral society they are completely ostracized for being “Kafirs”, a term that illiterate people (and illiteracy in Chitral is the norm) understand to mean “infidels.” The government does not give loans to Kafirs; the police and the judiciary have never taken any action against the appropriation of Kafir land by the Tablighis. The only source of income for the Kafirs are the Tablighis who lend them money at high interest. Since the Kafirs cannot pay off these loans, the only course left for them is either to convert or surrender their properties to the Tablighis.
While electricity, available through gasoline generators, and tap water are available to every Muslim in the Kalash Valley, and loudspeakers relay azzan and Koranic recitations throughout the day, there is not a single Kafir house that has electricity or a water tap. Their living conditions are indescribable. The Chitral winter is Siberian. The mosques and seminaries have heaters and warm water. The Kafirs’ houses remain dark all winter, and they have to melt snow for drinking water. They cut wood to make fire. Their houses are actually large single rooms that remain shut for the six months of winter. Humans and animals live in them together. One can only imagine the stink and the lack of sanitation. There are no toilets. In summer, people use the open fields to relieve themselves; in winter they relieve themselves inside their houses, the same as their animals. One finds human and animal waste everywhere.