Texts from the winter feasts of the Kalasha of Birir.
Author: Cacopardo, Augusto S.
Pub Date: 01/01/2010
Publication: Name: Acta Orientalia Publisher: Hermes Academic Publishing Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Hermes Academic Publishing ISSN: 0001-6438
Issue: Date: Annual, 2010 Source Volume: 71
Accession Number: 300544838
Full Text: Text no. 13

The melancholy chanted prayer ended after less than an hour, and the following song, sung in a merry tune that created a sharp contrast, concluded the ritual for the White Crow.

tr'iku tr'aku ie kag'arik

tr'iku tr'aku i -e kag'a -rik

crow crow come.IMPV.2S -RTM crow -DMN

crow crow come little crow

24 A prayer that was fulfilled.

w'iku w'aku ie kag'arik

w'iku w'aku i -e kag'a -rik

crow crow come.IMPV.2S -RTM crow -DMN

crow crow come little crow

t'ai ta r'iCuna LO'an

t'ai ta riC -una LO -an

2S.OBL CORR excrement -in mix -P/F.3P

for you they prepare excrement

mai'o m'onDuna LO'an

m'ai -o monD -una LO -an

1S.OBL -CORR whey -in mix -P/F.3P

for me they prepare whey

The song is addressed to the real crows this time, ironically reminding them that they eat excrement. After a short while the lively song was interrupted abruptly and the women streamed out of the temple, each with a piece of burning wood from the fire in one hand, and a small aluminium cup with offers of cracked walnuts in the other, which they emptied down the slope from the porch of the temple. The real crows are supposed to arrive at this time to consume the offerings, if the incoming year is to be a fortunate one. I set my gaze in the obscurity to see if I could spot a crow, but under the trees the veil of darkness was still too thick.

Text no. 14

Once the prayer to the White Crow was over and the women were back in their homes, a man from each household was supposed to leave at dawn for the goat-sheds carrying as a gift a large bread-cake with a decoration representing a herd on its surface, baked in the homes the previous evening, along with a few dough figurines. I went with one of the men. The goat-shed we reached after an hour's walk in the snow was crowded with children and a few men. The large bread cake was split and distributed, while a few cups of wine made the round of all present, children included. Stimulated by the wine, one of the men sang the song transcribed below. Though I had not heard it yet in Birir, the song was not new to me. I had heard it at the Rumbur Chaumos in 1973 where it was chanted by the whole community on the holiest night of the festival (Cacopardo A.S. 1985: 746; Cacopardo & Cacopardo 1989: 325; cf. Loude & Lievre 1984: 287; Snoy 2008: 62). The melody was now different, but the chant was no doubt the same one. Even if in no way solicited, it was seemingly not in its proper ritual context.

k'onDa meSaL'ako Cakabr'onzay k'asi-o

k'onDa meSaL'ak -o Cakabr'onz -ay kas -i -o

hornless lamb -RTM mountain.grass-LOC walk -CP -RTM

the hornless lamb roams on the mountain grass

k'onDa meSaL'ak t'ai-o S'in~gan

k'onDa meSaL'ak t'ai -o Sin~g -an

hornless lamb 2S.ACC -RTM horn -P.OBL


ty -au -e

hit -PST.A.3S -RTM

the hornless lamb hits you with his horn, the hornless lamb

k'onDa meSaL'ako se nash'a ti

k'onDa meSaL'ak -o se nash'a ti

hornless lamb -RTM REM.S.NOM inebriated become.CP


kas-i -o

walk-CP -RTM

the hornless lamb walks around drunk

k'onDa meSaL'ak am'E~a goT meSaL'ak

k'onDa meSaL'ak am'E~a go T meSaL'ak

hornless lamb sheep crazy lamb

the hornless lamb, crazy for a sheep

k'onDa meSaL 'ak saraw'atay k'asio

k'onDa meSaL'ak saraw'at -ay kas -i -o

hornless lamb Sarawat -LOC walk -CP-RTM

k'onDa meSaL'ak

k'onDa meSaL'ak

hornless lamb

the hornless lamb roams to Sarawat the hornless lamb

k'onDa meSaL'ako Sin~g zhe br'oay

k'onDa meSaL'ak o Sin~g zhe bro -ay hornless lamb -RTM peak and crest -in


kas -i -o

walk -CP -RTM

the hornless lamb roams among crests and peaks

k'onDa meSaL'ak s'uci pari'ansom mish'ari

k'onDa meSaL'ak s'uci par'i -an -som mish'ari

hornless lamb fairy fairy -P.OBL -with mixed

k'onDa meSaL'ak

k'onDa meSaL'ak

hornless lamb

the hornless lamb mixes with the fairies, the hornless lamb

k'onDa meSaL'ak 'onjiSTa zhew kas'alo

k'onDa meSaL'ak 'onjiSTa zhew kas -au -o

hornless lamb pure row walk -CAUS.PST.A.3S-RTM

k'onDa meSaL'ak

k'onDa meSaL'ak

hornless lamb

the hornless lamb leads pure herd

k'onDa meSaL'ak Cakabr'onz c'arawe

k'onDa meSaL'ak Cakabr'onz car -aw -e

hornless lamb pasture graze -PST.A.3S -RTM

k'onDa meSaL'ak

k'onDa meSaL'ak

hornless lamb

the hornless lamb grazes on the mountain grass, the hornless lamb

k'onDa meSaL'ako k'irik th'ara n'atio

k'onDa meSaL'ak -o k'irik thar nat -i -o

hornless lamb -RTM snow on dance -CP -RTM

k'onDa meSaL'ak

k'onDa meSaL'ak

hornless lamb

the hornless lamb dances on the snow the hornless lamb

k'onDa meSaL'ako to sha'ios zh'uei

k'onDa meSaL'ak -o to sha'ios zhu -ai

hornless lamb -RTM S.REM.ACC glacial.ponds (25) eat -CP

k'onDa meSaL'ak

k'onDa meSaL'ak

hornless lamb

the hornless lamb eats worms the hornless lamb

k'onDa meSaL'ak s'aras pres c'arila

k'onDa meSaL'ak s'aras pres car -ila

hornless lamb juniper branches graze -PST.HRS

k'onDa meSaL'ak

k'onDa meSaL'ak

hornless lamb

the hornless lamb grazes on the lower branches of the juniper trees the hornless lamb

"The hornless ram hits you with his horn" was the refrain repeated after each verse (not transcribed here for the sake of brevity). The sentence contains an apparent contradiction that was unravelled at the moment of the translation of the text, when it was explained to me that the horn was a metaphorical one, representing the male organ. meSaL'ak is a ram aged between one year and one year and half, that can therefore easily be still without horns. The chant evokes thus the image of a young ram, madly in search of a female, in a state of exhilaration (nash'a ti), roaming the high peaks among the mountain spirits (s'uci), dancing in the snow and grazing on mountain grass and juniper buds, ready to hit anyone with his male organ. An image of male virility, it seems, represented as bursting out of the 'onjiSTa sphere of the high mountains. An image containing the three most apparent traits of the realm of the 'pure': it is male, it is pastoral, it is connected to wild nature. (26) The reference to Sarawat is of some importance. It is the name of a remote mountain pasture that plays a role in the mythology, because it is the place where the dough figurines made for Lagaur are believed to be led during the night by their walm'oc, their shepherd, a majestic dough markhor to whom a special place is reserved on the main beam (sai'ar) of the house; the animals are then taken into custody by the fairies (s'uci), which indicates that they are seen as an offering to the mountain spirits. Sarawat, where--I was told--there is a spring and a lake, is deemed to be their abode and represents therefore the very core of 'onjiSTa territory in the Birir valley.

The lyrics of two different chants appear in fact to have been conflated in this text. One is the chant of the 'hornless ram', the other is a chant the same man sang immediately after, on a different melody, called mai muzh'ik, my markhor kid, which missed the refrain but had for the rest very similar verses. It may be that the former was imported from the two northern valleys because it is closely connected to the Balimain cult (cf. Wutt 1983: 116), (27) while the latter is a song of Lagaur celebrating the markhor that leads the goats to Sarawat. The verses "leads the pure herd" and "roams to Sarawat" surely belong to this second one.

Text no. 15

While the time of Chaumos is indicated by the movement of the sun, the time of the festivities that follow is regulated by the lunar cycle. Between the fifth and the seventh day of the January moon, about two weeks after Lagaur--from the 23rd to the 25th of January in 2007--Jhani was celebrated. The event concerned in fact only little girls (and their female relatives), while the male population appeared to ignore it altogether and to hardly consider it a festival. For the girls, however, the celebration brought three days of fairly intense activities. On the first day they conducted a ritual begging collecting beans and flour: while on the last day of Chaumos (dA'u tat'u), the begging was carried out at the village level, for Jhani the girls made the round of all the villages of the moiety they belonged to. In the evening the foodstuffs collected were brought to the temple of Guru where--like for the 'feast of beans'--young people gathered until late at night singing and dancing, while a few adolescent girls watched over the pots boiling under the porch; the following day the cooked food was distributed to all the families, to be eaten only by women. The third day the ceremony of the purification of dolls took place. These consist of a wooden skeleton in the shape of a cross on which a tailored little dress is fitted. They are made by the parents as a gift to their daughters. The little girls, with the help of their mothers, are supposed to bake bread for them. The rite did not amount to much: there was no fumigation with juniper as in women's purification rites, and once the bread cakes were ready, the girls grabbed their dolls and ran out of the house. The ceremony, at any rate, is meant to introduce them to the basic feminine tasks, making bread, fetching water and taking care of babies. Though not formally considered part of the initiation rituals, Jhani seems therefore to have an initiatory character. It announces indeed an impending change of status and it gives the little girls a first glimpse of their future life as wives and mothers. A future life not free of sorrow, as testified by the song transcribed below. Its text was not recorded, but was dictated to me by a middle-aged man who maintained it was that of an old song, forgotten by the women.

tu ta mai kAmbAh'uki k'ari

tu ta m'ai kAmbAh'uki kar -i

2S.NOM CORR 1S.OBL doll make P/F.2S

ao t'ai khazin'a pash'em

a -o t'ai khazin'a pash -em

1S.NOM -CORR 2S.DAT treasure see.CAUS.P. IS

you make a doll for me and I will show you a treasure

khoy ta aug'an desh mai de

khoy ta aug'an desh m'ai de

or CORR Afghan country 1S.ACC give.IMPV.2S

mai d'adako

m'ai d'ada -ko

1S.GEN father -ENDM.

either you give me away in the land of the Afghans, my dear father

kO'A shak amish'oti k'arim

kO'A shak amish'oti kar -im

koa vegetables salt.mix make -P/F.1S

and I will cook vegetables with salt

khoyo kushtyagr'om k'ui mai de

khoy -o kushtyagr'om k'ui m'ai de

or -CORR Kamdesh valley 1S.ACC give.IMPV.2S or you me away in the Bash al valley

a ta kiL'A pac'aw chu'aem

a ta kiL'A pac -aw chu -'a -em

1S.NOM TOP cheese cook -AGT dip.bread.in.food-CAUS -P/F.1S

and I will prepare cheese

kr'iSna cimb'araik kre mai 'ari

kr'iSna c'imbar -aik kre mai 'ar -i

black iron -ADJ price 1S.OBL make.PST.A -PST.A.2S

mai d'adako

m'ai d'ada -ko

1S.GEN father -ENDM

you gave me away in exchange for dark iron my dear father

mai ta kAk h'la osh h'awalo

m'ai ta kAk h'la osh h'aw -au -o

1S.GEN TOP extremely heart cold become.PST.A -PST.A.3S -RTM

frozen with sorrow

In the song a girl addresses her father saying that he makes a doll for her, but she will give him a treasure; a quite clear reference to the bride-price he will receive when he'll give her in marriage. "You will give me away in exchange for iron," she adds, referring to the tripods and the cauldrons for making cheese that customarily compose it. She fears especially to be given to a foreigner and her heart, she says, is frozen with grief.

kushti'a is the name given by the people of Birir to the Kom of the neighbouring Bashgal valley, in Afghan Nuristan. A marriage between a Kom man and a Kalasha girl may have been a possibility before the Kom were forcibly converted to Islam at the end of the nineteenth century. (28) In contrast, a marriage to a Pashtun--this is what is intended by "Afghan"--seems hard to imagine, because these people have been Muslims for a long time. It could be, however, that there were times when a Kalasha father in dire straits would sell his daughter outright, under the feeble disguise of a marriage, to a Muslim man who would of course convert her.

We have here one more song expressing the suffering of Kalasha girls when they are married still children to a man who will take them away from their family and friends, if not from the whole community; as it is feared by the girl in the case she is given to a foreigner.

Text no. 16

Though Chaumos has all the characteristics of a New Year festival, the beginning of the new year is not marked by the solstice. The new cycle begins in fact in the following lunar month, when the moon is full, with an animal sacrifice celebrated at one of the main shrines.

A New Year celebration at the end of January is not surprising, because in the Indo-European world the date of the beginning of the year, though quite variable, remains generally included between December and March (Dumezil 1929: 6-10; cf. Propp 1978: 44-45; Van Gennep 1988: 3471-3472). From the name of the sacrifice b'asun don, 'spring bullock' -and for the fact that it is celebrated at the end of the coldest period, the New Year day of Birir seems to be connected to the spring, rather than to the winter, season. This was the trend prevailing in ancient Persia. An influence from the Iranian world seems to be indeed indicated by the name itself of the Birir celebration, which is called salgher'ek: while gher'ek is a Kalasha term meaning 'rotate', sal is the Persian term for 'year', which I never recorded in Birir in any other instance.

The sacrifice of b'asun don that celebrates the 'rotation' of the year is performed at the shrine of the god Mahandeo. In 2007 the sacrificial victim, however, was not a bullock, as the name of the ritual would seem to imply, but a kid. What follows is the text of the prayer that accompanied the central part of the rite, recorded at the Mahandeo shrine on January 31st.

e all'ah parwadig'ar

e all'ah parwadig'ar

O Allah Creator.God

O Allah Creator

d'eshuna khayr k'ari tazag'i k'ari

desh -una khayr kar -i tazag'i kar -i

country LOC peace make-IMPV.2S health make-IMPV.2S

pruST'I k'ari barak'at de heesh!

pruST -i kar -i barak 'at de heesh!

good -NML make -IMPV.2S blessing give.IMPV.2S heesh!

bring peace and health to the community, make everything good, give blessings, heesh!

e all'ah pak parwadig'ar

e all'ah pak parwadig'ar

O Allah holy Creator.God

O Allah, Creator

tu k'ushala mahand'eo khod'ayas h'atya

tu k'ushala mahand'eo khod'ay -as h'atya

2S.NOM ingenious Mahandeo God -GEN to

suw'al k'ari

suw'al kar -i

prayer make -IMPV.2S

you, ingenious Mahandeo, pray God for our sake

mun ta pili'ai m'undo uchund'ai heesh!

mund ta pili 'ai -ai munD -o uchund -ai heesh!

top CORR climb -CP top -CORR descend -CP heesh!

once the top is reached, from the to you descend heesh!

As in other prayers we commented, we find here the Kalasha god represented as an intermediary between humans and the Creator God, in line with the monotheistic reinterpretation of Kalasha religion which, as we have seen, is now quite firmly established. The requests are the usual ones, of peace and good health. The peculiarity of this prayer lies in the cry heesh! which I had not heard before, and in the last verse, for which I could obtain no explanation. It is in all likelihood a traditional formula referring, it would seem, to the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. A formulation, that is, of the idea of cyclical time: once the end, the top, or if we want, the climax, has been reached, you can only descend and start over again. The 'rotation' of the year had been celebrated.

Text no. 17

The same evening a final ritual was celebrated in all households, dedicated this time to the goddess Jeshtak, who presides over the domestic world of the family. A mash of walnuts and cheese with wheat bread was the ritual meal. The prayer below was recorded in the home of one of my hosts, who recited it personally.

'ia b'asun don 'arimi kh'ayras

'ia b'asun don 'ar -imi kh'ayr -as

PROX.S.NOM spring bull do.PST.A -PST.A.1P peace -OBL

bat'i zhe ab'at kar'ikas bat'i

bati zhe ab'at kar -ik -as bati

PURP and prolificness make -INF -OBL PURP

we have done this basun don ritual for the sake of peace and abundance of children

'ama ishper'i k'arik day

'ama ishper'i kar -ik d'ay

PROX.S.ACC ritual.meal make -P/F.1P P/F.CONT

now we are having this ritual meal

se tu d'uray j'eSTak zhe baS zhu'aw

se tu dur -ay j'eSTak zhe baS zhu'aw

HON 2S.NOM house -of Jeshtak and share eater

khayr k'ari

khayr kar -i

peace make -IMPV.2S

you Jeshtak of the house, and eater of a share (of the offer), give us peace

Chek Chom'iko d'esha h'isti

Chek Chom'ik -o d'esha hist -i

trouble pain -SEQ far throw -IMPV.2S

keep trouble and pain away from us

The deity is called goddess of the home because her emblem--two little wooden horse-heads protruding from a small wooden plank--is usually found in Birir in every house and, of course, because she presides over family relations. She is also addressed as 'share eater', an epithet given to all gods because in sacrifices they are given a part of the body of the victim--mostly the blood--and they share thus the sacrificial meal with men. The requests are again the usual ones, but the rite has nevertheless a special significance because, once it is completed, the prohibition over the consumption of the fruits of the last harvests is lifted: the sacred meal of that evening was indeed made with flour and walnuts from the autumn harvests. From that moment on, all the products of the cycle just concluded, could be consumed.

With that rite the old year was finally dismissed, and the new one was hailed in. The following day--the day of benjisht'em--was going to be the very first of the New Year. It was celebrated with a meal of squash in the morning, fertility rites at the goat-sheds, and a ritual meal in the evening.

Appendix: Outline and chronology of the winter ritual celebrations in Birir in 2006-07

Preparations for Chaumos

acar'ik--gandalik'an--10 December 2006

--virgin boys make preparations at the shrine of the god Praba

--old baskets are burnt and Chaumos songs and dances are sung around the bonfires

Chaumos--14--20 December 2006

desh suc'ein--14 December

--purification of the territory with juniper smoke

ruzh'ias--15 December

--cleaning of the houses

--animal sacrifices for the first wine of the year

--offerings to the dead

goST-s'araz--16 December

--purification rites with juniper smoke at the goat-sheds

--processions/assaults with torches to the temples: the young and the novices insult the elderly

--songs and dances in the temple until late at night

non~g-rat--17 December

--ritual begging of the novices

--beginning of initiation sacrifices

--purification rites in the homes for female novices

--washing of kitchen implements, which are not to be touched until the early morning rite (see below)

--evening fast

--rite with offerings of rice and juniper smoke just before the break of dawn

ist'on~gas-rat--18 December

--offerings to the dead brought by young girls

--novices are dressed with ceremonial clothes in the homes by the maternal uncle, and are brought to the temple

--male initiation rites at the goat-sheds with animal sacrifices

--beginning of seclusion for the novices

--banquets with meat and wine offered in the goat-sheds by the families of the novices to ali the male members of each moiety

--holocaust at the break of dawn at the shrine of the god Praba, with the participation of the novices

--singing and dancing in the temples and torchlight procession in the early hours of the morning (3:00 a.m.): each of the two moieties is reunited in one of the temples

koT SaT'ek--19 December

--the whole community gathers in full daylight for a whole day of singing and dancing

--ritual game of the capture of the fortress (nog'or grik)

--ritual chasing away of the fox (Law'ak bih'ik)

--running competition and lighting of a fire (koT SaT'ek)

--fight and general commotion

--rite with mistletoe and secret prayer

--concluding dance led by man with mistletoe, called the dance of the markhor (sharacat'aki)

dA 'u tat'u--20 December

--dancing and singing in full daylight outside one of the temples

--ritual begging of beans by young girls

--rite with mistletoe marks the end of the seclusion of the novices

--young people gather in the temple to oversee the cooking of the beans.

After Chaumos

dah'u pac'ein--21 December

--the cooked beans are distributed in the homes

SiS khur--6 days later

--the heads and the legs of sacrificed animals are eaten

Lagaur--3-9 January 2007

First day

--the kazi announce the beginning of the festival

--ritual meal with cheese in the evening

Second day

--in the evening ritual meal with beans and walnuts

Third day

--in the morning the women make animal figures with bread dough

--children of both sexes go to the goat-shed area singing the song of the Crow, and they collect leafy branches to decorate the temples.

--in the evening the men make animal figures stuffed with walnut mash mostly representing markhors, and a large bread cake to take to the goat-sheds early the following morning.

Fourth day

--women gather in the temple two hours before dawn to invoke the White Crow

--when they are finished, the men take the large bread-cake to the goat-sheds.

--in the villages children imitate the rituals of Chaumos.

Six days of dances for children follow (reduced to two in 2007)

Last day

--game in which the children imitate the ritual race of the central day of Chaumos

--boys take the dough figurines made by the men up to a small plateau above Guru village and leave them there for the crows

--the bread figurines made by the women are given to the goats.

Jhani--23-25 January 2007

First day

--ritual begging of flour and beans by little girls who make the round of the villages of each moiety

--cooking of the beans in the temple and gathering of young people Second day

--distribution of the cooked food to all the families of the village (only for female members)

Third day

--ritual purification of the dolls

Salgherek--31 January 2007

--in the morning animal sacrifice at the shrine of the god Mahandeo

--in the evening, rite in the homes in honour of the goddess Jeshtak, which marks the lifting of the ban over the consumption of the fruits of the last harvests.

Benjishtem--1 February 2007--first day of new year

--in the morning breakfast with squash

--fertility rites at the goat-sheds

--in the evening, ritual meal with cheese and walnut mash at the goat-sheds

Note on the Transcriptions and Abbreviations Used in the Texts

Capital letters express a retroflex articulation which in Kalasha occurs not only in consonants but also in vowels (Heegard & Morch 2004; Di Carlo 2010). < sh > represents the voiceless palatal sibilant, < zh > its voiced counterpart; but all other consonants followed by < h > are to be pronounced as aspirates; < y > represents the palatal approximant and < w > the voiced labio-velar approximant. All the other phones are transcribed according to Masica's 'Standard Orientalist' transcription (Masica 1991: XV-XVI), including the palatal affricate expressed with < c >. Since Kalasha syllabification is not as yet thoroughly studied, stress is marked by the symbol < ' > in front of the stressed vowel, and not, as in IPA, in front of the stressed syllable. Nasalization is expressed by < ~ > following the nasalized letter.


ACC: Accusative Case

ADJ: Adjectivizer

AGT: Agent

AN: Animate

CAUS: Causative

CORR: Correlative

CP: Conjunctive Participle

DIR: Direct Case

DMN: Diminutive

DIST: Distal

ECO: Eco-words

ENDM: Endearment

GEN: Genitive Case

HUM: Humoristic

IMPV: Imperative

INAN: Inanimate

INT: Intensifier

LOC: Locative

NEG: Negation

NML: Nominalizer

NOM: Nominative Case

OBL: Oblique Case

P: Plural

P/F: Present Future

P/F CONT : Present Future Continuous

PCL: Particle

POSS: Possessive (suffixes)

PRF.P Perfect Participle

PROX: Proximal

PST.A: Past Actual

PST.HRS: Hearsay Past

PURP: Purpose

REM: Remote

RTM: Rhythmical Element

S: Singular

SEQ: Sequencer

TOP: Topical

VIA: Vialis

VIS: Visible


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(28) For a detailed reconstruction of the events see Cacopardo & Cacopardo 2001: 180-190.

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Augusto S. Cacopardo


(1) Recently converted Kalasha communities where Kalashamon is still spoken are found also in the two southern valleys of Jinjeret Kuh (Cacopardo & Cacopardo 1992, 1996) and Urtsun (Cacopardo, A. S. 1991, 1996; Cacopardo & Cacopardo 2001: 261-277). Earlier converts, living in various settlements around Drosh and in the Shishi Kuh valley, have abandoned Kalashamon for Khowar (the majority language of Chitral), opting for a radicai change of identity (Cacopardo A.M 1991, 1996; Decker 1992:96114; Morch 2000).

(2) For a detailed presentation of the relevant sources see Cacopardo & Cacopardo 2001 : 25-44.

(3) For descriptions of Kalasha religion see Jettmar 1975; Witzel 2004; Cacopardo A.S. 2010.

(4) Other important cyclic celebrations are the Uchaw late summer festival, especially in Rumbur (Loude & Lievre 1987: 193-203) and Bumburet, and the Prun autumn festival in Birir (Staley 1964, 1982: 71-75; Lines 1988: 224-232; Loude & Lievre 1987: 204-219; Lievre & Loude 1991; Di Carlo 2007).

(5) A detailed description and analysis of the Birir Chaumos is now available in Italian (Cacopardo A. S. 2010).

(6) Linguists will forgive me if I do not offer linguistic comments, but I hope they will find the texts useful as new materials for the study of the still little known dialect of Birir, and of Kalasha ritual language in general.

(7) Several other people, too many to list, offered me assistance and warm hospitality. To all I express my gratitude.

(8) I want to thank here Pierpaolo Di Carlo, who participated in the Birir project as an ethnolinguist documenting the autumn Prun festival (Di Cario 2007), for preparing the software and, in general, for his precious support in linguistic matters (only mine of course the responsibility for any faults). The project was part of a research mission funded, partially, by the Istituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente (Is.I.A.O.) of Rome, and by the University of Florence. A third member of the team was Alberto M. Cacopardo, who conducted ethnohistorical research in Upper Chitral, Swat, Dir and the Bashgal valley.

(9) For a detailed description of the three genres see Parkes 1994, 1996; Di Cario 2007:63 76, 89-97; Cacopardo A. S. 2010: 160-178. One of the main differences between the Chaumos of Birir and that of the two northern valleys is that only Chaumos songs and dances are allowed there, while the ordinary songs/dances of the other celebrations are banned, together with the beating of drums that invariably accompanies them.

(10) Though this proposal is not quite in line with the existing reconstructions of the formation of retroflex vowels in Kalashamon--following the loss of an intervocalic retroflex consonant (Heegard J. and I. E. Morch 2004; Di Cario 2010)--it seems nevertheless likely.

(11) According to Trail and Cooper (1999: 143) this term, which has an endearing connotation, is used by people other than the parents and those who can address the girl as chu, daughter.

(12) See the text in Cacopardo, A. S. 2008:92 and Loude & Lievre 1984: 272.

(13) As I have shown in my former article on Chaumos (Cacopardo, A. S. 2008: 102-103), Balimain is also to be identified with Indra.

(14) The virilocal marriage rule has probably always favoured the circulation of women's song in the three communities.

(15) Which he translated as "donne autant que tu prends, et tout sera bien" (Mauss Ib.).

(16) I am quite sure this is the meaning of the sentence, though its structure remains a bit enigmatic. My assistant found it difficult to translate.

(17) For the relation between obscene words and behaviours and fertility of humans and nature in New Year celebrations see, e.g. Caillois 2001: 117; Eliade 1976: 372-73; Lantemari 1983: 517-519; Propp 1978: 209-211.

(18) They were solicited, I am not sure to which extent, by one of my assistants who--not on my request addressed a chanting group of women urging them to sing 'old' songs.

(19) Pulses, on the other hand--for the fact that they are seeds and as such contain the potential of life--may be seen as symbols of abundance (Propp 1978: 47).

(20) Women are allowed to eat some parts of these wild animals (Lievre & Loude 1990: 72)

(21) Kalasha tradition, however, offers an escape from situations of unbearable unhappiness: the woman may elope with a man other choice if her new mate is ready to pay the double of the bride-price to the abandoned husband. The institution called aLaS'in~g is discussed at length in Parkes 1983 and Maggi 2001.

(22) According to several people I questioned, fathers no longer impose their choices on their daughters; but without behavioural data we cannot really draw any conclusions on the subject.

(23) In 2007 these were reduced to only two because of a funeral celebration that had to be held just then.

(25) The reference is, I was told, to the worms found in glacial ponds: the grass soaked in snow produces worms, on which the herds feed. The term used in the verse for glacial pond is Khowar; the Kalasha word is p'utsas.

(26) It is interesting to note that in a Vedic hymn Indra is represented as a famous ram (De Gubernatis 1872: 403): it could be that the hornless ram of the song is none other than Indra.

(27) One of my assistants asserted that it is chanted in Birir on the morning of the day of initiations (ist'on-gas rat), but I do not remember hearing it on that day.
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