The infidels of the Hindu Kush

Published on May 13, 2020 by

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The ancient culture of the Kalash people is threatened. Almost 4,000 still live at the foot of the Himalayas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. But modern life is making inroads here, too.

Legend says the Kalash are descendants of Greek troops who settled here during the campaigns of Alexander the Great. But the tale is debatable. DNA researchers suspect they originated in Afghanistan, but the Kalash cling to the story, saying they are of western and European appearance. Over the course of history, most of them were forcibly converted to Islam or killed. A small part of the community, however, survived in the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They are polytheists and live in a very traditional way, far from the modern, big cities. The younger generation often has to decide whether to stick to tradition or pursue a modern life. Many are engaged in a balancing act between the desire to maintain their culture and religion and the opportunity to move beyond the limited opportunities of their home villages. This film asks the Kalash how they see the future of their traditions. Will they be able to maintain them?

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