There are various ways people around the world pay tribute to their dead, and the rites of passage in Kalash Valley are unique. The festivities held to celebrate the death of a Kalash, continued for three days in the Bumburate valley. The residents of three Kalash valleys have gathered to take part in the last rituals of the oldest member of their community. Fifty goats, 300kg of cheese, 250kg ghee and 120kg honey were consumed during the ceremony. The celebrations also depend on the gender of the deceased, apart from his or her status in the tribe. When a male Kalasha dies, drum beating and dance as well as a feast is the norm. But when a woman dies, drum beating and dancing are excluded. Moreover, very few people attend funerals of women and children.
Instead of mourning a death, traditionally the Kalash people make merriment for three days they sing and dance in the community hall where the corpse is placed. As per rituals, the body has been placed in an open courtyard with groups of Kalash singing and dancing around it. The rituals will continue for two days before his coffin is placed in the graveyard called Madokzhall.
Tribes people from around the area gathered to pay tribute and bid their farewells to the highly regarded individual. The elders spoke of his contributions to the Kalash tribe. The body is adorned with a necklace of cash, and weapons, as well as other necessities, are placed beside it. Kalash funerals call for heavy spending on the passing of any tribesman. This proves difficult for poorer families which have to take loans or sell property for the rituals. That is one of the main reasons many people have been stripped of properties and walnut trees.
Some young Kalasha men express respect to the deceased and solidarity with the family members through aerial firing. The celebrations and series of praises are carried out for three days until the last services, when the body is finally buried. Earlier, the Kalashas would lay the dead body in a wooden coffin-like trunk and place it anywhere rather than burying it. But with the growth in population and to avoid air pollution caused by rotting bodies, they have started burying the bodies. Today, Kalasha families offer grape water to people attending a funeral, which is a favourite of the tribe. For the past few years, the affluent members of the community have started to help poor Kalashas on funerals. This has led to saving people from having to take heavy loans.
Kalash is a place out of this world. There are no doctors, no mobile phones, no newspapers and no tarmac roads. But they still look the happiest people on earth. They follow centuries-old traditions and customs and still send their women to secluded houses called ‘Bashali’ during menstruation and child birth as they are considered impure. No one even touches them during this period. A Kalash becomes poorer if anybody dies in his family because he has to throw lavish feasts and sacrifice his goats. But the tradition continues. The Kalash’s life revolves around their festivals throughout the year. They take pride to be Kalash and do not want to change their primitive ways of living. But they do want education and health facilities in addition to jobs and better road access from their valleys to the outer world.