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Manang is Different in the Case of Dashain in Nepal

By Heaven Himalaya | Heaven Himalaya | 5 Nov 2020

Most of the ethnic groups in the Mongolian group, who live in the high mountainous terrain from Lelep and Olangchungola in Taplejung in the east to Limi in Humla in Karnali, do not celebrate Dashain very much. The castes, including Gurungs of Manang living in such mountainous geography, celebrate Dashain very happily; why?

Although there are similarities between the Buddhist and Bon religious communities living in the Tibetan border area, the Mustang differs on Dashain's issue. By maintaining the rites guided by the Bon religion, they have been able to celebrate even the Dashain marked by Hindus. Besides treks and hikes in Nepal, Manang is also rich in culture and tradition.

The Bon religion worships nature and believes in supernatural beings, such as gods, goddesses, ghosts, and spirits. It is thought to think that there is a soul in all the objects in the universe. Rivers, streams, lakes, trees, etc. are considered gods, and big mountains and rocks are regarded as deities. This religion has its original festivals. But what is the reason why some followers of Bon religion in Manang celebrate Dashain with great enthusiasm and culture? The subject is essential.


Many people who celebrate Dashain in Manang know that it is not their culture, but they do not understand why and when Dashain celebration started in their community. But because of the ancestral culture, local youths say that they have not been able to leave celebrating Dashain. Apart from the festival, during this time, people go on a family trek such as Annapurna Family Trek. 

When did the influence of civilization start in Manang? Cultural expert and Vice-Chancellor of Nepal Pragya Pratishthan Dr. Jagman Gurung had once said that the Dashain might have impacted the Manang's even before the unification of Nepal.

It's believed that before the unification of Nepal by the then King Prithvi Narayan Shah, it was customary to cut the lamb and eat it during the Dashain festival in Manang, which was the tributary state of Lamjung. Since that time, the locals might have started celebrating Dashain, saying that it is the King's Festival."

Ashish Gurung, ward chairman of Chame Village Municipality, Ward no: 1. said that according to the locals, even today, old aged people there call Dashain as 'Royal Celebration.'

Putting Tika on the 10th Day of Dashain is still practiced in his village. But due to awakening in the youth that created awareness among the people today, Dashain is not their culture, so celebrating with joy is declining as before. Still, people there have given continuity because it's not fair to stop celebrating Dashain, which has been passed through different generations. The locals have not given up on the local Bon Culture to become extinct. 

In the past, the state used to celebrate Dashain as the main festival. The local government used to make arrangements for sacrifices in Durga temples in some places of Manang. The government encouraged by providing goods during Dashain in people's houses, so some believe that the same effect may have been extended to Manang.


The custom of celebrating Dashain on behalf of the government

At that time, the custom of celebrating Dashain was unique. No one was allowed to spend in vain, and not anyone was deprived of celebrating Dashain due to a lack of funds. Government structures such as Goshwara, Courts, and Administration were not developed. So, all the village rulers were Talukdars, gatekeepers of Gadhigauda, ​​Amara of Kot, and among the Amaras, the main person was Nir Amara. People of this position used to run the village government. The upper echelons of the state arranged chiefs or Talukdars according to the 'chain of command.'

Mustang also belonged to the then Lamjung government's Karad State. Since Lamjung is under direct rule, there is reason to believe that the Dashain has been practiced in Manang since then.

On the auspicious occasion of Dashain, it was customary to cut the "Balekhro" at the village chief's house. The buffalo that was slaughtered earlier was called buffalo, but the buffalo killed in Dashain was called "Balekhro."

There were two chiefs in the same village. They would have defined their area, which was called Zhutta. According to the caste, it was customary to slaughter buffaloes or other animals, depending on the number of houses in that Zhutta. Even within the Gurung caste, buffaloes were killed at the chief's house for food. There was an arrangement of sheep for people who don't eat buffalo meat.

The government never deprived them of eating meat because they did not have money in Dashain. The borrowed money for the meat was also paid by exchanging laborers in the field until Maghe Sakranti.

After the provision of meat, it was customary to lend a paddy to eat rice. The borrowers can pay the money next year. It was also customary for someone to send labor in the field of the person who lends paddy to them.

If someone complained that the chief could not celebrate the Dashain by making such an arrangement, he could have gone to the chief's job. Therefore, due to the previous government custom, even in Manang, celebrating Dashain's culture may have been established.

The hassle of bringing an expensive Goat of Rs 1 and 50 Paisa

Today's society sees the grandeur of Dashain in wasteful spending. But even those who spent a little more at that time were forced to take unannounced action by the community. At that time, who did not eat buffalo meat, used to bring sheep and goats.

Dr. Gurung recalls, "It is about the time when a sheep was worth Rs. 6, I don't know the exact date. Everyone, according to the number of their family member, had bought a goat worth Rs 6. In the same crowd, one of them had brought a goat of seven and a half rupees. The villagers complained that he had paid more than others. In this way, the government used to encourage the same treatment and less spending during Dashain in the past.

Mustang doesn't know that the Dashain has come

Even though the Dashain is being celebrated with full enthusiasm in Nepal's hilly and Terai regions for 15 days, it is not known whether this festival has come and gone in the mountainous districts, including Mustang. Mustang is mostly famous for different treks and tours, such as Upper Mustang Jeep Tour and Mustang trek. These tours and hikes open the door to foreign nationals to become a part of the cultural programs and enjoy the ancient taste of Mustang's architecture.  Besides, this Mustang has a unique culture and traditions.

Dashain, the most fantastic festival of Hindus in Nepal, is uniquely celebrated in Mustang. Ward member of Baragung Mukti Area Village Municipality Ward No. 1 Tashi Chiring Gurung once said that it is not known whether Dashain has come or left in Mustang. But Buddhists in districts, including Mustang, have a tradition of going to a hill above their house or to a certain place on the eighth day of Dashain to wish for peace. It was customary to light lamps on the day of many sacrifices in the country, hoping for peace.

It is not only on Dashain; the elderly population used to light candles when many sacrifices are made. Furthermore, it is celebrated not only in Mustang but also by Buddhists in other places. But he says there is no festival to celebrate, stating that this is the day of Dashain.

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