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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Kalasha

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Old Holidays Die Hard

Old holidays die hard.

Throughout the Persian-speaking world—Iran, Afghanistan, Kurdistan—the Winter Solstice is a widely-celebrated, if secular, holiday. (For Zoroastrians, of course, it retains its religious character.) In Farsi, it's called Yalda, a word which may or may not be related to the Semitic root YLD, “to give birth.”

It's customary to stay up all night, to see the year's longest night through from beginning to end. People pass the long candle-lit hours, as one would expect, telling stories, singing songs, and eating. In Iran, the tradition is to serve 13 different fresh fruits—pomegranates, melons, cucumbers—one for each moon of the coming year.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Those Wacky Non-Pagans

 

Who you callin' 'cowan'?”  (Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin, Masters of Solitude) 

Every community has one: a name for Them. You know, those “Not Us” People. In this, pagans are just like everyone else. Who are they, those mysterious non-pagans?

Non-Pagans. A term for when you need to sound neutral (or polite). Most non-pagans that I know are pretty amused to learn that they're non-pagans. Long-time resident in the pagan ghetto that I am, I appreciate the educative value of “non-pagan.” (Let's hear it for paganonormativity.) Mostly, though, this is an “inside-looking-out” term; I don't generally use it when speaking with fellow normos.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Linette
    Linette says #
    I'm loving the "Darrens" idea. Thanks for the smiles this is bringing me.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Goat-Man of the Hindu Kush

The Kalasha are the last remaining pagans of the Hindu Kush. Numbering about 4000, in three adjoining valleys in northwest Pakistan, they are known for their proud polytheism, the freedom (and beauty) of their women, and their wine-drinking.

The Kalasha are a transhumant society. In the spring, the young men take the herds of sheep and goats up to the high mountain pastures, where they spend the entire summer and autumn. In late October, they return, just in time for the Prun, the three-day harvest festival that marks the end of the growing season, the return of the flocks, and the first drinking of the New Wine, led by a mysterious figure called the Budálak, the Goat-Man.

The Budálak wears horns and goat-skins, and on the third and final night of the festival, as drums throb around the bonfires and wine flows freely, the women garland him and he joins their wild dance. He is the embodiment of the purity, fertility, and rampant maleness of the high mountains, the realm of the peri (“fairies”), and his role is to transmit this fruitfulness to the entire community.

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From Those Who Have Much, Much Is Expected: A Kalasha Tale

The Kalasha are the last remaining pagans of the Hindu Kush. Numbering about 4000, in three adjoining valleys in northwest Pakistan, they are known for their proud polytheism, the freedom (and beauty) of their women, and their wine-drinking.

Among the Kalasha, November is the month of the ancestors, and it is customary to remember them—for “the spirits of the dead are pleased when their names are remembered”—by recounting tales of their deeds.

In Kalasha society, it is impingent upon the wealthy to throw elaborate feasts for as many people as possible; only by sharing their wealth with the rest of the community do they gain prestige. Their Muslim neighbors laugh at them for their lavish, spendthrift ways, but this is indeed the way of the pagan ancestors: from those who have much, much is expected.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    My understanding (I'm certainly no expert) is that the Kalasha reckon lineage bilaterally (i.e. through both the mother's and the
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    According to Heide Goettner-Abendroth, gift giving as a method of ensuring social equality is characteristic of matriarchal egalit

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