In Pakistan, the last pagans of Central Asia

BIG REPORT – In the secret folds of Hindu Kuch, a handful of free men leaning against the Afghan border have been perpetuating, for more than two thousand years, the celebration of the great cycle of nature. During the winter solstice, the Kalashs reaffirm their identity in a whirlwind of rites as festive as they are spiritual. An enchanted parenthesis in a microcosm on borrowed time.

A singular vibration invaded the air, on this last evening of Chaumos. Songs echo in the mountain, answer each other in diffuse echoes. On the upper terrace of Grum, at the top of the village rolled up on its peak, a palpable fever reigns which electrifies laughter and makes eyes shine. While icy darkness has been drowning the furrow of Rumbur for several hours, one of the last three enclaves of Kalash settlement, fires are lit in the chain of hamlets in the valley. It’s about keeping evil spirits at bay, guiding the messenger gods, and bringing humans together. Around the braziers, groups of women and girls chant guttural chants from the depths of time, stamping their feet to warm the numb toes and to evacuate the excitement.

At the same time, above the stables and sheepfolds, men and young initiates gather around other braziers. In this intermediate space between villages and summits, between

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