Sherpa

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Published Date: 2020-02-28

Sherpa

 

Sherpa is one of the ethnic group's native

to the most mountainous regions of Nepal

and the Himalayas. The term sherpa  or 

sherwaderives from the  Sherpa language

words Shyar ("east") and Pa ("people"),

which refer to their geographical origin of eastern Nepal.

        The current Sherpa population is estimated to be around 45,000 people. They mainly live in the Khumbu and Solu Khumbu regions that lie to the south of Mount Everest. Sherpas also live to the east of this area in Kulung. In addition, Sherpas inhabit the valleys of the Dudh Kosi and Rolwaling Rivers west of Solu-Khumbu, and they are also found in the Lantang-Helambu region north of Kathmandu. Kathmandu itself has a sizable Sherpa population, while small numbers of Sherpas can be found throughout Nepal, even in the Terai. Sherpa communities are also present in the Indian state of Sikkim and the hill towns of Darjiling and Kalimpong. The Sherpas are small in stature, relatively fair in complexion, with the distinctive facial features associated with peoples of Tibetan origin.

        Most Sherpa people live in the eastern regions of Nepal; however, some live farther west in the  Rolwaling Valley and in the Helamburegion north of Kathmandu. Sherpas establish gompas (temples) where they practice their religious traditions. Tengboche was the first celibate monastery in Solu-Khumbu. Sherpa people also live in ChinaBhutan, and the Indian states of Sikkim and the northern portion of West Bengal, specifically the district of  Darjeeling. The Sherpa language belongs to the south branch of the Tibeto-Burman languages, mixed with Eastern Tibet (Khamba) and central Tibetan dialects. However, this language is separate from Lhasa Tibetanand unintelligible to Lhasa speakers.

The number of Sherpas migrating to Western countries has significantly increased in recent years, especially to the United States. New York City has the largest Sherpa community in the United States, with a population of approximately 3,000. The 2011 Nepal census recorded 312,946 Sherpas within its borders. Some members of the Sherpa population are known for their skills in mountaineering as a livelihood.

 

History

The Sherpa were nomadic people who first settled in the Solukhumbu District (Khumbu)Nepal. According to Sherpa oral history, four groups migrated from Kham in Tibet to Solukhumbu at different times, giving rise to the four fundamental Sherpa clans: Minyagpa, Thimmi, Sertawa and Chawa. These four groups gradually split into the more than 20 different clans that exist today. Mahayana Buddhism religious conflict may have contributed to the migration out of Tibet in the 13th and 14th centuries and arrived in Khumbu regions of Nepal. Sherpa migrants travelled through Ü and Tsang, before crossing the Himalaya.

By the 1400s, Khumbu Sherpa people attained autonomy within the newly formed Nepali state. In the 1960s, as tension with China increased, Nepali government influence on the Sherpa people grew. In 1976, Khumbu became a national park, and tourism became a major economic force

Gautam (1994) concluded that the Sherpa migrated from Tibet to Nepal approximately 600 years ago, initially through Rongshar to the west and then later through the Nangpa La pass. It is presumed that the group of people from the Kham region, east of Tibet, was called "Shyar Khamba" (People who came from eastern Kham), and the place where they settled was called "Shyar Khumbu". As the time passed, the "Shyar Khamba", inhabitants of Shyar Khumbu, were called Sherpa. A recent Nepal Ethnographic Museum (2001) study postulated that present-day Nepal became an integral part of the kingdom of Nepal. Since ancient times, Sherpas, like other indigenous Kirat Nepalese tribes, would move from one place to another place within the Himalayan region surviving as Alpine pastoralists and traders.

Genetics

Genetic studies shows that much of the Sherpa population has allele frequencies which are often found in other Tibeto-Burman regions, in tested genes, the strongest affinity was for Tibetan population sample studies done in Xizang Tibetan Autonomous Region. Genetically, the Sherpa cluster closest with the sample Tibetan and Han populationsAdditionally, the Sherpa had exhibited affinity for several Nepalese populations, with the strongest for the Rai people, followed by the Magars and the Tamang.

Released in 2010 by UCLA at Berkeley, a study identified more than 30 genetic factors that make Tibetans' bodies well-suited for high-altitudes, including, referred to as the "super-athlete gene" which regulates the body's production of hemoglobin, allowing for greater efficiency in the use of oxygen.

A 2016 study of Sherpas in China suggested that a small portion of Sherpas' and Tibetans' allele frequencies originated from separate ancient populations, which were estimated to have remained somewhat distributed for 11,000 to 7,000 years.

Haplogroup distribution

A 2014 study observed that considerable genetic components from the Indian Subcontinent were found in Sherpa people living in China. The western Y chromosomal haplogroups R1a1a-M17, J-M304, and F*-M89 comprise almost 17% of the paternal gene pool in tested individuals. In the maternal side, M5c2, M21d, and U from the west also count up to 8% of people in given Sherpa populations. However, a later study from 2015 did not support the results from the 2014 study; the 2015 study concluded that genetic sharing from the Indian subcontinent was highly limitea  2017 study found the same.

In a 2015 study of 582 Sherpa individuals (277 males) from China and Nepal, haplogroup D-M174 was found most frequently, followed by Haplogroup O-M175Haplogroup F-M89and Haplogroup K-M9. The Y-chromosome haplogroup distribution for Sherpas follow a pattern similar to that for Tibetans.

Sherpa mtDNA distribution shows greater diversity, as Haplogroup A was found most frequently, followed by Haplogroup M9aHaplogroup C4a, Haplogroup M70, and Haplogroup D. These haplogroups are also found in some Tibetan populations. However, two common mtDNA sub-haplogroups unique to Sherpas populations were identified: Haplogroup A15c and Haplogroup C4a3b.

LANGUAGE

The language of the Sherpas, called Sherpa or Sherpali, is a dialect of Tibetan, although it has borrowed heavily from neighboring languages. It belongs to the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. The Sherpas use the Tibetan script for writing. Sherpas use Nepali in their dealings with other peoples.

 

Mountaineering

Many Sherpa are highly regarded as elite mountaineers and experts in their local area. They were immeasurably valuable to early explorersof the Himalayan region, serving as guides at the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region, particularly for expeditions to climb Mount Everest. Today, the term is often used by foreigners to refer to almost any guide or climbing supporter hired for mountaineeringexpeditions in the Himalayas, regardless of their ethnicity. Because of this usage, the term has become a slang byword for a guide or mentor in other situations. Sherpas are renowned in the international climbing and mountaineering community for their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes. It has been speculated that part of the Sherpas' climbing ability is the result of a genetic adaptation to living in high altitudes. Some of these adaptations include unique hemoglobin-binding capacity and doubled nitric oxideproduction.

Religion

According to oral Buddhist traditions, the initial Tibetan migration was a search for a beyul (Buddhist pure-lands). Sherpa practise the Nyingmapa, the "Ancient" school of Buddhism. Allegedly the oldest Buddhist sect in Tibet, founded by Padmasambhava (commonly known as Guru Rinpoche) during the 8th century, it emphasizes mysticism and the incorporation of local deities shared by the pre-Buddhist Bön religion, which has shamanic elements. Sherpa particularly believe in hidden treasures and valleys. Traditionally, Nyingmapa practice was passed down orally through a loose network of lay practitioners. Monasteries with celibate monks and nuns, along with the belief in reincarnated spiritual leaders, are later adaptations.

In addition to Buddha and the great Buddhist divinities, the Sherpa also believe in numerous deities and demons who inhabit every mountain, cave, and forest. These have to be respected or appeased through ancient practices woven into the fabric of Buddhist ritual life. Many of the great Himalayan mountains are considered sacred. The Sherpa call Mount Everest Chomolungma and respect it as the "Mother of the World." Mount Makalu is respected as the deity Shankar (Shiva). Each clan reveres certain mountain peaks and their protective deities.

Today, the day-to-day Sherpa religious affairs are presided over by lamas (Buddhist spiritual leaders) and other religious practitioners living in the villages. The village lama who presides over ceremonies and rituals can be a celibate monk or a married householder. In addition, shamans (lhawa) and soothsayers (mindung) deal with the supernatural and the spirit world. Lamas identify witches (pem), act as the mouthpiece of deities and spirits, and diagnose spiritual illnesses.

An important aspect of Sherpa religion is the temple or gompa. A gompa is the prayer hall for either villages or monasteries. There are numerous gompas and about two dozen monasteries scattered throughout the Solukhumbu region. The monasteries are communities of lamas or monks (sometimes of nuns) who take a vow of celibacy and lead a life of isolation searching for truth and religious enlightenment. They are respected by and supported by the community at large. Their contact with the outside world is focused on monastery practices and annual festivals to which the public is invited, as well as the reading of sacred texts at funerals.

 

 

 

Traditional Clothing

Men wear long-sleeved robes called kitycow, which

fall to slightly below the knee. Chhuba is tied at the

waist with a cloth sash called kara, creating a

pouch-like space called tolungwhich can be used

for storing and carrying small items. Traditionally, chhuba were made from thick home-spun wool, or a variant called lokpa made from sheepskin. Chhuba are worn over raatuk, a blouse (traditionally made out of bure, white raw silk), trousers called kanam, and an outer jacket called tetung.

Women traditionally wear long-sleeved floor-length dresses of thick wool called tongkok. A sleeve-less variation called angi is worn over a raatuk (blouse) in warmer weather. These are worn with colourful striped aprons; metil aprons are worn in front, and gewe in back, and are held together by an embossed silver buckle called kyetig.

Sherpa clothing resembles Tibetan clothing. Increasingly, home-spun wool and silk is being replaced by factory-made material. Many Sherpa people also now wear ready-made western clothing.

 

Traditional Housing

When a son marries and has children, the community may help to construct a new house, as the extended family becomes too large for a single home. The neighbours often contribute food, drinks and labour to help the family. Houses are typically spaced to allow fields in between. A spiritual ceremony may be conducted at every building stage as the house must have space for deities, humans and animals. Once constructed, the house is often handed down within a family and not sold. The house style depends on the lay of the land: old river terraces, former lake beds or mountain slopes. There are stone single-story, ​1 12-story (on a slope), and the two-story houses, with ample room for animals. Many well-to-do families will have an annex shrine room for sacred statues, scriptures and ritual objects. The roof is sloping and is made from local natural materials, or imported metal. There's space in the roof to allow for fire smoke to escape. There may be an internal or external outhouse for making compos.

 

Notable People

One of the best-known Sherpas is Tenzing Norgay. In 1953, he and Sir Edmund Hillary became the first people known to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. Norgay's son Jamling Tenzing Norgay also climbed Everest in honor of his father with the mountaineers Ed Viesturs and Araceli Segarra during the disastrous year of 1996.

In 2001, Temba Tsheri became the youngest Everest climber in the world (holder of the Guinness World Record), then aged 16.

In 2003, Sherpas Pemba Dorje and Lhakpa Golu competed to see who could climb Everest from base camp the fastest. On 23 May 2003, Dorje reached the summit in 12 hours and 46 minutes. Three days later, Golu beat his record by two hours, reaching the summit in 10 hours 46 minutes. On 21 May 2004, Dorje again improved the time by more than two hours with a total time of 8 hours and 10 minutes.

On 11 May 2011, Apa Sherpa successfully reached the summit of Everest for the twenty-first time, breaking his own record for the most successful ascents. He first climbed Mount Everest in 1989 at the age of 29.

One of the most famous Nepalese female mountaineers was Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the first Nepali female climber to reach the summit of Everest, but who died during the descent. Her namesake, Pasang Lamu Sherpa Akita, has also climbed Everest, and was one of three Nepali women who were the first to reach the summit of K2. Another well-known female Sherpa was the two-time Everest summiter Pemba Doma Sherpa, who died after falling from Lhotse on 22 May 2007.

On 20 May 2011, Mingma Sherpa became the first Nepali and the first South Asian to scale all 14 of the world's highest mountains. In the process, Mingma set new world record – he became the first mountaineer to climb all 14 peaks on first attempt.

Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa is one half of a Nepali duo that was voted "People's Choice Adventurers of the Year 2012". In April 2011, Lakpa Tsheri and Sano Babu Sunuwar made the 'Ultimate Descent': a three-month journey in which they climbed Everest, then paraglided down the mountain and proceeded to kayak through Nepal and India until they reached the Indian Ocean.

On 19 May 2012, 16-year-old Nima Chhamzi Sherpa became the youngest woman to climb Everest; the previous record holder was Nimdoma Sherpa, who summited in 2008, also at 16 years old.

Chhurim Sherpa (Nepal) summitted Everest twice in May 2012: 12 May and 19 May. Guinness World Records recognized her for being the first female Sherpa to summit Everest twice in one climbing season.

In 2013, 30-year-old Chhang Dawa Sherpa became the youngest mountaineer to summit the 14 highest peaks, the 8000'ers.

Pratima Sherpa 19 (2017), has lived her entire life in a maintenance shed on the fourth hole of Royal Nepal Golf Club in Kathmandu, and is the top-ranked female golfer in Nepal.

On 26 July 2014, Pasang Lamu Sherpa AkitaDawa Yangzum Sherpa, and Maya Sherpa crested the 8,611-metre (28,251 ft) summit of K2, the second highest mountain in the world. In doing so, the three Nepali women became the first all-female team to climb what many mountaineers consider a much tougher challenge than Everest. The feat was announced in climbing circles as a breakthrough achievement for women in high-altitude mountaineering. Only 18 of the 376 people who have summited K2 have been women.

Another notable Sherpa is cross-country skier and ultramarathoner Dachhiri Sherpa, who represented Nepal at the 2006, 2010, and 2014 Winter Olympics.

Similarly Cultural and tourism Minister of Nepal Kripasur Sherpa, major of British Gurkha Army Prem Dorji Sherpa, ambassador of Australia Lucky Sherpa are notable personnel from Sherpa communities.

Mountain guide Kami Rita Sherpa holds the world record for the number of successful climbs to the summit of Mount Everest, 23as of 15 May 2019. Two others, Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi Sherpa, have successfully summitted on 21 occasions.

Mountaineer PK Sherpa and his 14 year-old-son Sonam Sherpa will lead the "First Father and Son Mountaineers" for a global awareness campaign about climate change and global warming. Both father and son will jointly climb all the seven highest summits of seven continents from March 2019 to May 2020.

 RELIGION

The Sherpas belong to the Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism. The oldest Buddhist sect in Tibet, it emphasizes mysticism and incorporates shamanistic practices and local deities borrowed from the pre-Buddhist Bon religion. Thus, in addition to Buddha and the great Buddhist divinities, the Sherpa also have believe in numerous gods and demons who are believed to inhabit every mountain, cave, and forest. These have to be worshiped or appeased through ancient practices that have been woven into the fabric of Buddhist ritual life. Indeed, it is almost impossible to distinguish between Bon practices and Buddhism.

Many of the great Himalayan mountains are worshiped as gods. The Sherpas call Mount EverestChomolungmaand worship it as the "Mother of the World." Mount Makalu is worshiped as the deity Shankar (Shiva). Each clan recognizes mountain gods identified with certain peaks that are their protective deities.

The day-to-day religious affairs of the Sherpas are dealt with bylamas(Buddhist spiritual leaders) and other religious practitioners living in the villages. It is the village lam a, who can be married and is often a householder, who presides over ceremonies, and rituals. In addition, shamans(lhawa)and soothsayers(mindung)deal with the supernatural and the spirit world. They identify witches(pem),act as the mouthpiece of gods and spirits, and diagnose illnesses.

An important aspect of Sherpa religion is the monastery orgompa. There are some two dozen of these institutions scattered through the Solu-Khumbu region. They are communities of lamas or monks (some-times of nuns) who take vows of celibacy and lead a life in isolation searching for truth and religious enlightenment. They are respected by and supported by the community at large. Their contact with the outside world is limited to the annual festivals to which the public is invited, and the reading of sacred texts at funerals.

 MAJOR HOLIDAYS

The major festivals of the Sherpas are Losar, Dumje, and Mani Rimdu. Losar, which falls towards the end of February, marks the beginning of the New Year in the Tibetan calendar. It is celebrated with much feasting and drinking, dancing, and singing.

Dumje is a festival celebrated for the prosperity, good health, and general welfare of the Sherpa community. It falls in the month of July, when the agricultural work is complete, the trading expeditions to Tibet have returned, and the Sherpas are preparing to take their herds into the high pastures. Over a seven-day period, Sherpas visit their local monasteries and offer prayers to their gods. There is much eating and drinking, and members of the younger generation participate in singing and dancing.

The colorful Mani Rimdu celebrations are held four times a year, twice in Khumbu (at the Tami and Tengboche monasteries) and twice in Solu-Khumbu (at the Chiwong and Thaksindhu monasteries). Monks in colorful costumes and elaborate masks impersonate gods and demons and perform religious dances intended to scare the evil spirits.

Feasting and drinking accompany all Sherpa festivals and celebrations except for Nyungne. This is a penance for sins committed during the previous year. For three days, laypeople abstain from drinking and dancing and may even undergo a complete fast. They visit the gompa to recite sacred texts with the lamas, or repeat the mantraOm Mani Padme Hum. The principal mantra of the Buddhists, it is also found inscribed on prayer wheels. It has many interpretations, one of which is "Om, the Jewel of the Doctrine is in the Lotus of the World." Monks and nuns keep to the restrictions of Nyungne for two weeks.

 RITES OF PASSAGE

The name-giving ceremony of a Sherpa child is an important event. The locallama(Buddhist spiritual leader) is informed of the birth and the time that it occurred. On the basis of this information, the lama determines the child's name and when the naming ceremony should take place. Children are often named after the day of the week on which they were born. Thus a baby born on Friday would be called "Pasang" (the Sherpa word for "Friday"). The lama, relatives, and neighbors are invited to celebrate the name-giving at a feast.

Children are usually brought up by their mothers, as the men are often away from home for much of the year. Young girls are introduced to household chores at an early age, while boys tend to have greater freedom for leisure and play. Boys undergo an initiation ceremony between seven and nine years of age, which is presided over by the lama and accompanied by feasting and drinking.

For the wedding ceremony(zendi),the boy's family dress in their best clothes and go in procession to the girl's house. There, they are entertained with food and drink and are expected to dance and sing in return. They visit houses of relatives, where the procedure is repeated. The feasting lasts for a day and a night, before the party returns home with the bride. The actual marriage is observed by putting a mark of butter on the forehead of the bride and groom. The bride is given a dowry by family and friends that usually consists of rugs, woolen carpets, yak-wool mats, and even cattle.

At the time of death, the body is washed and covered with a white shroud. The lama cuts off a lock of hair from the corpse so that the life breath(pran)of the departed may leave the body, and reads from the sacred texts. The lama decides if the deceased is to be buried, cremated, or given a water-burial. The lama also decides when to remove the corpse, which may not occur for several days. The body is seated on a frame and taken for cremation or burial. The funeral procession is accompanied by flags and novice lamas blowing conch shells and playing drums and cymbals. After death, the family performs rites for the benefit of the departed and undertakes a ritual purification of the home. Sherpas believe that the soul remains near the house for forty-nine days, and on the last of these days a grand feast is held to complete the last of the funeral rites.

 

 

RELATIONSHIPS

The Sherpas' most important rule of hospitality is that a visitor must not leave the house unfed or without a drink. Guests are entertained with Tibetan tea or beer. Visitors of high standing will be served a snack, or even a complete meal. Unlike some communities in South Asia, guests in Sherpa homes have complete access to both the kitchen and the area set aside for worship.

 LIVING CONDITIONS

Sherpa villages cling to the sides of sheer mountain slopes or sit on top of steep escarpments. Sherpa settlements range from villages with a few houses to towns such as Khumjung or Namche Bazaar with more than a hundred houses. In the higher elevations, a house is usually built in the middle of its owner's fields. Where more flat land is available, however, houses are clustered together in a group at the center of the village's agricultural land. Larger villages may have a community temple, a community mill, and religious monuments calledstupasandchorten. There are few proper roads, and villages are connected by tracks and trails. Goods are transported by pack animals or on the backs of the people.

Sherpa houses have two stories and are built of stone. The roofs are flat and usually made of wood, weighted down by heavy stones. The lower level is used to house livestock, fodder, food, and firewood, while the upper story holds the living quarters. The floor of this room is wooden, covered with carpets and rugs. There is no furniture; platforms and benches are used for sitting and sleeping. A small area of the house is set aside for an altar. Incense and butter lamps are kept burning before the shrine.

 FAMILY LIFE

Sherpa society is divided into a number of clans calledru. A person is required to marry outside his or her clan. Although there is no ranking of individual clans, they fall into two groups, thekhadeuandkhamendeu. The former are of higher status and anyone marrying into the lower group loses this standing.

Sherpas choose their own marriage partners. The marriage process is a lengthy one that may stretch over several years. Following a betrothal, the boy has the right to live with his fiancée in her parents' house. This arrangement may continue for several years, during which the relationship may be broken off. Once the respective families feel that the marriage will be successful, a ceremony is carried out that formally confirms the marriage negotiations. Several months or even years may pass again before the wedding date is fixed.

Sherpa families are small by South Asian standards. The nuclear family is the norm in Sherpa society, with households consisting of parents and their unmarried children. A newly married son is supposed to receive a house on completion of the marriage. Interestingly, a man does not return home until he has a child; he lives with his in-laws until such time as his wife gives birth. Most marriages are monogamous, although fraternal polyandry (having more than one husband) is permitted and is even considered to be prestigious. According to this practice, two brothers marry the same woman. Divorce is quite frequent among the Sherpas.

CLOTHING

Sherpa dress is similar to that worn by Tibetans. Both men and women wear a long inner shirt over a pant-like garment, both made out of wool. Over this, they wear a thick, coarse, wraparound robe(bakhu)that reaches to below the knees and fastens at the side. A sash is belted around the waist. Both males and females wear high, woolen boots with hide soles. The uppers are colored maroon, red, and green (or blue), and the boots are tied on with colored garters. An unusual feature of women's dress is the multicolored striped aprons worn to cover the front and back of the bodies below the waist. Both married and unmarried women wear the rear apron, while the front apron is worn only by married women. Various ornaments and a distinctive cap called ashyamahucomplete the dress of the Sherpa woman.

Traditional Sherpa dress is rapidly disappearing among Sherpa men. Many younger men who have worked for mountaineering expeditions wear Western-made high-altitude clothing.

 FOOD

The Sherpa diet is dominated by starchy foods, supplemented by vegetables, spices, and occasionally meat. In addition, Sherpas drink Tibetan tea (tea served with salt and butter) at all meals and throughout the day. A typical breakfast consists of Tibetan tea and several bowls of gruel made by addingtsampa,a roasted flour, to water, tea, or milk. Lunch is eaten in the late morning and may include boiled potatoes which are dipped in ground spices. Sometimes a stiff dough made from a mixture of grains(sen)is eaten with a thin sauce made from spices and vegetables, or meat if it is available. A typical dinner is a stew(shakpa)consisting of balls of dough, potatoes, and vegetables. Dairy products, especially butter and curds, are important in the Sherpa diet. Sherpas eat meat, but as practicing Buddhists they will not kill animals themselves.



A favorite beverage of the Sherpas ischang,a beer made from maize, millet, or other grains. This is consumed not only at meals, but also at most social and festive occasions. It has considerable symbolic and ritual significance in Sherpa society.

 EDUCATION

Although primary schools are slowly being introduced into Sherpa areas, few Sherpas have any formal schooling. As might be expected, literacy rates (the percentage of people who can read and write) are low, as are parental expectations for their children.

CULTURAL HERITAGE

The Tibetan tradition of religious dance-dramas known as 'chamcan be seen in the Mani Rimdu festivals of the Sherpas. Elaborately choreographed, with monks dressed up in costumes and masks, the Mani Rimdu dances enact the triumph of Buddhism over the demons of the Bon religion. The temple orchestras that accompany these dramas are unique in the makeup of their instruments, which include drums, cymbals, handbells, conch shells, 10-foot (3-meter) telescopic horns, large oboes, and flutes made from human thighbones. The distinctive chant used by monks in their religious observances is also in the tradition of Tibetan sacred music.

 

EMPLOYMENT

Trade between Nepal and Tibet is of considerable historical importance in the region. Sherpas, because of their location and ability to handle high altitudes, have traditionally played a major role in the trade that moves through Nangpa La and other passes across the mountains. Salt, sheep's wool, meat, and yak are still brought from Tibet into Nepal, in exchange for food grains, rice, butter, and manufactured goods.

The Sherpas' reputation as excellent porters and guides on mountain-climbing and trekking expeditions has brought them a new source of income and, for some Sherpas, a comfortable living.

 SPORTS

Sherpas enjoy playing cards and gambling with dice. Wrestling and horseplay is popular among both boys and girls.

RECREATION

Sherpa entertainment and recreation is largely limited to their traditional pastimes of singing, dancing, and drinking beer.

CRAFTS AND HOBBIES

Sherpas rely on the artisan castes to provide the material necessities of life. Some Sherpas have developed skills in religious painting and in liturgical (religious) chanting. The Sherpas have a tradition of indigenous folk songs and dancing.

 SOCIAL PROBLEMS

Sherpa society has a high incidence of alcoholism and related medical problems. Similarly, although the situation is beginning to change, the lack of education among the Sherpas reflects to a large extent their isolation and the low level of development in Nepal as a whole. Tourism has provided many Sherpas with wealth, but serious environmental damage has occurred with its development. Inflation, increasing dependence on a tourist-based economy, problems with drug-running, and the migration of wealthy Sherpas to Kathmandu are all indications of a changing Sherpa society.

FOLKLORE

A unique element in Sherpa folklore is the Yeti, better known in the West as the "Abominable Snowman." According to one tale, Yetis were far more numerous in the past and would attack and terrorize local villagers. The elders of the village decided on a plan to eliminate the Yetis. The next day, the villagers gathered in a high alpine pasture and everyone brought a large kettle ofchāng(maize beer). They also brought weapons such as sticks and knives and swords. Pretending to get drunk, they began to "fight" each other. Towards evening, the villagers returned to their settlement, leaving behind the weapons and large amounts of beer. The Yetis had been hidden in the mountains watching the day's events. As soon as the villagers left, they came down to the pasture, drank the rest of the beer, and started fighting among themselves. Soon, most of the Yetis were dead. A few of the less intoxicated escaped and swore revenge. However, there were so few left that the survivors retreated to caves high in the mountains where no one would find them. Occasionally, they reappear to attack humans.

 

Source: Wikipedia 

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