Unlike all the neighboring societies within the Hindu Kush region, the Kalasha still practice a pre-Islamic religion of Vedic origin. The process of culture maintenance finds in the ancestral language an irreplaceable symbolic resource for identity purposes. This, in turn, determines that those Kalasha who convert to Islam are inclined to repudiate their fathers’ language. Culture and language maintenance are clearly interdependent processes; hence, it is important to identify the loci of reproduction of Kalasha culture. Ritual and verbal art performances occupy a central role in this perspective. This unsurprising result is accompanied by a much less predictable suggestion—a contrastive analysis of topic coding devices in ordinary and poetic discourses indicates that it is during verbal art performances that Kalasha poets reframe their traditional eschatology, thus providing an essential motivation for an endangered enclave to continue bearing the burden of being unique.


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pp. 141-159
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