Dolpo, the largest district but sparsely populated region of Nepal is the home several different cast and ethnic group. The Nepalese government has divided this wonderland into two regions Upper Dolpo and Lower Dolpo. However, based on cultural and traditional diversity we comprehend it in three regions: Upper Dolpo, Middle Dolpo, and Lower Dolpo.
Upper Dolpo region is close to Tibetan border and inhabited by the Tibetan Buddhist and Bon followers. Their culture and tradition closely resemble with Tibetans and some unique of their own.The dialect speaking in Upper Dolpo has similar tuning with the Tibetan language which is called ‘Poike’.
Middle Dolpo and Lower Dolpo have the influence of Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism, Bonism and Shamanism. Middle Dolpo’s a well-known area ‘Tichurong’ or ‘Taral’ is the home of ‘Kaike’ and ‘poike’ speaking ‘Magar’ people. Inhabitants in this region are followers of Tibetan Buddhism, Bonism and Shamanism. While in the Lower Dolpo region the majority of inhabitants have the influence of Hinduism and Shamanism with little Bonism. People of Lower Dolpo are also known by ‘Khas’, and they speak the Nepali language.
Festivals and rituals in Upper Dolpa
BUDDHA JAYANTI or Saga Dawa
Buddha Jayanti is the Buddha’s birthday. It falls in the month of May. In the occasion of Buddha Jayanti people gather in Gompas and conduct communal puja and chanting prays of ‘Mani’ and ‘Bajra Guru’ and offering ‘Chog’. It is the belief that, the Dharma, offerings, and deeds done during Buddha Jayanti has multiplier credit and diminishes sin and bad deeds.
Literally, ‘Lo’ means year and ‘Sar’ means ‘New’, hence it is ‘New Year’ of Dolpa Pa People. During this festive occasion, realties invite each other and celebrate it. People enjoy and get fun with dancing, singing, playing games. People also visit Gompas (monasteries) and get the blessing from senior lamas.
Shey festival is one of the most important festivals not only for Upper Dolpo people but also for all the Buddhist people around the world. Shey festival is held in every twelve years in the month of August in Dolpo region during the ‘Dragon year’ of Tibetan Calendar. It is a grand celebration for including Upper Dolpo people and all Tibetan Buddhist followers. In this festival, people make Kora (circumambulating /walking around) the holiest Crystal Mountain. Many devotees and pilgrimages from different places and countries come here to participate in the festival. The festival is going for nearly 5 to 6 days with many different programs.
Yungney is a ritual festival of Dolpo, which held for 16 days. During this festival, people gather in one place with their foodstuffs and beddings. There will be ahead or senior lama and under his guidance, every people do ‘Yoga’ by chanting mantras. And every evening senior Lama teaching the ‘Dharma’ and every alternate day is followed by mum fasting where all the people are not allowed to talk and eat. At end of Yungney, people receive ‘Wang’ blessing from senior or head lama. It is believed that Yungney purifies the mind, sin and bad deeds.
Chhaye Chu ritual is done every 10th of the month according to the Tibetan calendar. During this ritual, the senior or the head lamas perform Puja by making ‘Torma’ from Tsampa and read Tibetan Mantras and text and people gather and chants mantras. At the people receive ‘Wang’ blessing and ‘Chhog’ from a head lama.
Tse Tar is another ritual of Upper Dolpo and Buddhist people that help in time of great misfortune. A yak or other domestic animals is set free or release free in the name of God. When Yak dies it is cut up and given a sky burial.
Festivals and rituals in Middle Dolpo/Tichurong
Chhaye Chu ritual is done every 10th of the month according to the Tibetan calendar. During this ritual the senior or the head lamas perform Puja by making ‘Torma’ from Tsampa and read Tibetan Mantras and text and people gathers and chants mantras. At the people receive ‘Wang’ blessing and ‘Chhog’ from head lama.
Chhaigo is a ‘New Year’ of inhabitants of Techurong area.This is celebrated in the month of December and celebrated for one day. During festival family are gather together and eat different kinds foods and worship their ancestor god.After 1oth to 13th days of Chhaigo ‘The Rung’ major festival of Tarali Magar people is occurs.
CHAITI OR RUNG
Chaiti or Rung festival is the major festival of Tarali Magar people.It is occurs during winter month of Jan/Feb after ‘Chhaigo’ New Year. It is celebrated for one month, and the main day of Chaiti or Rung is ‘Lapsole’ the omen for this main day is based on when Seven Stars and Moon is coincide in one line. On the ‘Lapsole’ every household renew their roof flag ‘Tarchuwa’ and inner ‘Do’. During this festival people get enjoy with eating and drinking, no one goes for work. Young people and childrens gather in one place and they play different games. People invite each other and make fist. This festival is celebrated to dedicating their ancestor god ‘Chyopata’ as farewell for his journey towards Terai region.
Keja is occurs in the March and t is celebrated to welcome the spring season. This festival is especially for ladies. In this festival people make breads and gather in a place get dance and play games.
Keja is occurs in the month of April and it is a welcome celebration of spring and returning of their ancestor god ‘Chyopata’ from Terai region. In this ritual small triangular shaped buckwheat breads are made and offer to their ancestor god, as he had his long time in Terai and had a lot of rice hence to change taste welcomed him by buckwheat bread. This is another enjoy the full festival for gents. During this festival, people use to play with archery as well.
Rungma is another important festival of Tarali people. This festival occurs in mid of March. In this festival one house becomes ‘New’ Rungma and another household becomes ‘Old’ Rungma. New Rungma is going to roof of ‘Old’ Rungma. It is celebrated for 3 days, where all the villagers gather in ‘New’ Rungma’s house and have great fist enjoy with dancing and singing.
SRAWAN PURNEY and BHADAURE PURNEY
These both festivals are Shamanistic festival and It is falls in the month of July and August respectively. During this festival, Dhamis(Shamans) travels long distance for pilgrimage and return on the Srawan Purney or before full moon day and Dhamis perform dance and devotees come to Dhamis residence with flowers, and fruits. They asked about the futures and Dhamis tells about future of people.It is celebrated for 2-3 days.
Festivals and rituals in Lower Dolpo
This festival occurs in the month of March or April. The festival is celebrated for two days.Chaitey Dashain is festival celebrated for Lord Ram Chandra’s returning back to Ayodhya with his wife Sita, brother Laxman, Hanuman and military after 14 years of his exile. So, in Chatey Dashain is usually celebrated by paying homage to lord Ram.
VIJAYA DASHAMI (DASHAIN)
Vijaya Dashami or Dashain is the main festival of Hindu. It is celebrated for 15 days and begins from ‘Ghatastahapa’. Then make different food stuffs, people return to their home from work, families and relatives gather at one place. Worships the Goddess and make Pujas, and get enjoy with different verities foods. Having fun by playing cards, hanging rope ‘Rote ping’ and receive tika and blessing from the elder people.
Another great Hindu festival, which is also said as the festival of lights ‘Deepawali’, it falls in the month of October or November. The festival is celebrated for 5 days worshiping Ox, Crow, Dog, Cow and Wealth’s Goddess ‘Laxmi’ and ‘Bhaitika’ brother receives blessing from the sisters. People pay their homage to the Goddess of property (Laxmi) and enjoy and get fun by making groups for ‘Deusi Bhailo’, this group go to very households and perform dance and sing song on return they get some money with fruits, special bread and so on.
Maghe Sankranti is falling in the month of January. It is also known as the Makar Sankranti.People celebrate it by eating different kinds of yam. It is believed that Maghe Sankranti is beginning of the new holy season, which ended with the start of winter. It is a transition of the Sun one zodiac to another.
MASTTA- Srawan Purney and Bhadaure Purney
It is most popular Shamanistic festivals commonly celebrated in the villages of Lower Dolpo.Masta, Deurali, and Bhawani are deities which ride on human beings whom called Dhamis or Shaman and they transce and talk with the external world and predict the future of common people. This festival is celebrated for 2-3 days. Dhamis travel short to long distance pilgrimage and return 2-3 days before full moon with his/her helpers and perform dance, slaughter cattle and blessing to people.