The Hunza also have a unique shamanic history involving a story of mythological beings known as the Pari. These fairy-like creatures are said to make their presence known only to a shaman, the Bitan, who is able to contact them during periodic ceremonies.
The Pari are said to live in the mountains surrounding the Hunza Valley, protecting locals from outside threats. Shepherds say when they are herding goats at higher altitudes, they can hear the voices and inhuman music of the Pari. But their descriptions of these beings are different than the Western conception of fairies.
“They were human-like, but taller than any man I know, with fair skin, red cheeks, golden hair, and clad in green garments,” a Hunza native said. “Their mouths were wider than human mouths, their noses extended high into their foreheads, and their feet were backwards.”
When contacting the Pari, the Bitan will inhale smoke from burning juniper, dance to the beat of a drum, and drink the blood from the severed head of a freshly killed goat. He then goes into an ecstatic trance state, communicating with these ethereal, otherworldly creatures. After his trance he provides the community with advice and a foretelling of future events.
Could the Pari’s protection and prophecies have anything to do with the Hunza’s longevity? Maybe... but it provides another example of how these people continue to uphold ceremonies promoting their culture and group gatherings. Maintaining social rituals and cultural narratives is good for both mental and emotional health, contributing yet another factor to an overall healthy lifestyle.