If anyone in Pakistan thinks “Sharbat Khan” and “Mohabbat Khan” are weird names to say the least, they should take a detour of the scenic Chitral valley and ask for the names of the Kalasha people living there.
The Kalasha does probably have the weirdest names on earth.
Named after the items and utensils of daily use, some of them which are hard to find, the children in the valley are often named after“Telephone”, or“Computer” or even “Balti
Predominantly polytheistic, the Kalasha’s proudly call themselves the direct descendants of the Alexander the Great and hold pagan views about life, faith and destiny.
Most scientists and anthropologists dispute the legend: No genetic ties between Kalasha and Greeks have been discovered, and scientists believe the Kalasha are Indo-Aryans whose religion has some commonalities with pre-Zorastrian Iranians.
But regardless, the legend once lured busloads of Greek tourists to the valleys, seeking a link to their ancestral past.
Women wear vibrant-colored embroidered dresses and beaded headdresses called“susutr" — are viewed with both admiration and suspicion by the Islamic majority. As militant Islam gains hold in regions surrounding the Kalasha — most recently with Pakistan’s cease-fire agreement with the Taliban in the nearby Swat Valley — the fate of Pakistan’s indigenous tribes hangs in the balance.
If asking for a `telephone` or `cooker` in the remote Kalash valley of Rumbur or Bumburate the local people lead you to someone`s house; take it easy as Kalash people have been naming their children after household items since long.
Zahid Ali, a university student doing research on Kalash culture, said that in the Kalash dialect the local names of both men and women hardly carried any meaning. However, he said that the Kalash try to avoid repeating a name already used.
Mostly uneducated and backward, the people do not have access to basic education and health facilities and life in the rugged mountainous region is anything close to a comfortable one. Subsistence farming is the source of livelihood where mostly the womentend to the fields and men follow the other essentials of life.
”No two Kalash can be found with the same name,” says Zahid, adding that the Muslim names like Saifullah Jan, Abdullah were now being used.
He said that a stranger could not differentiate between a man and woman through their names, but now the Kalash women had starting using Muslim names like Fatima, Khadija, Shahida and others. Enumerating some funny names of the Kalash, he mentioned Number-One, Mobile, Radio, Cassette, Akhbar, Chaprasi. He said that `Pepsi` was the original name of a young boy living in his neighbourhood.