The Kalasha or Kalash, are a Dardic indigenous people residing in the Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. They speak the Kalasha language, from the Dardic family of the Indo-Aryan branch. They are considered unique among the peoples of Pakistan.
They are also considered to be Pakistan’s smallest ethnoreligious community, practising a religion which some scholars characterise as a form of animism and other academics as “a form of ancient Hinduism”.
The neighbouring Nuristani people of the adjacent Nuristan (historically known as Kafiristan) province of Afghanistan once practised the faith adhered to by the Kalash. By the late 19th century, much of Nuristan had been converted to Islam, although some evidence has shown the people continued to practice their customs.
Over the years, the Nuristan region has also been the site of much war activity that has led to the death of many endemic Nuristanis and has seen an inflow of surrounding Afghans to claim the vacant region, who have since settled among the remaining natives.
The Kalash of Chitral maintained their own separate cultural traditions.