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The Dards are a group of Indo-Aryan peoples found predominantly in northern Pakistan, northwestern India and eastern Afghanistan. They speak Dardic languages, which belong to the Indo-Aryan family of Indo-European languages. The largest populations of Dards are in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan and in the Kashmir Valley and Chenab Valley in India. There are smaller populations in Ladakh in India and in eastern Afghanistan. The Kashmiri people are the largest Dardic group, with a population of over 5.5 million.

History

Asko Parpola identifies "Proto-Dardic" with "Proto-Rigvedic", suggesting that the Dards are the linguistic descendants of the bearers of proto-Vedic culture ca. 1700 BC, pointing to features in certain Dardic dialects that continue peculiarities of Vedic Sanskrit, such as the gerund in ''-tvī''. According to Gerard Fussman, the word ''Dard'' is only used in the field of linguistics, not as a country or ethnicity. During Swati rule, the Dards predominantly followed a form of Hinduism.

Religion

The Dards historically practiced Hinduism along with Buddhism. The vast majority of Dardic peoples are now Muslim. Kashmiris, Pashayis, Kohistanis, Brokpas and Kho are majority Sunni. The Shia are majority Ismaili and Twelver. Some in Gilgit-Baltistan follow Noorbakshia Islam. A significant minority of ethnic Kashmiris are still Shaivite Hindus, known locally as Kashmiri Pandits. The Kalash people of Chitral follow a form of ancient Hinduism infused with local pagan/animist accretions. In the Ladakhi villages of Da and Hanoo, the majority of the population is Buddhist, although some follow animistic traditions.

Social status

, the Brokpa had been classified as a Scheduled Tribe under the Indian government's reservation program of affirmative action.

See also

*Dardistan

References

{{authority control Category:Ethnic groups in Afghanistan Category:Ethnic groups in Pakistan Category:Social groups of Gilgit Baltistan Category:Scheduled Tribes of Jammu and Kashmir Category:Indo-Aryan peoples Category:Ethnic groups in Ladakh