The Mid-Western Nepal is one of the rare undiscovered lands where its inhabitants still live in communities dispersed in the hills with rare contact with the civilized world. The almost absent influence of globalization and the distance from the industries makes the nature that surrounds these places still uncontaminated.
During the majority of the year, the hills which shapes these lands are fully covered by green trees while the water of rivers and lakes is still crystalline.
The houses of the villages are still made in the traditional way. Most of them are made by rock slabs covered with mud used as thermic isolation. The roofs, instead of depending on the zone, can be made by sloped wooden planks if the zone is subject to snowfalls in winter and by rock slabs covered with mud layers if weather is dry during winter. In the second case, the renovation of the roof with different layers of mud is very important and it is done once a year, since most of the daily activities take place there. Due to the difficult conformation of the territory and the big slopes, all the house roofs are connected with a big carved trunk as a stair that simplify the movements of the inhabitants inside the village. The interior division of the house is very simple. Depending on the dimension of the house, there could be between two and four rooms, where the most important one is without doubt the kitchen which is also used as a meeting place. The villagers still cook their food with fire wood that they will put inside an artisan iron chamber with circular holes for the pot and equipped with a chimney that will lead the smoke outside the home. Reaching these areas of the country is extremely hard, due to the lack of a proper road network, seen that the only big road is the Karnali Highway subject to the bad weather conditions. In addition, reaching the villages is also impossible by vehicle because they are scattered through huge hills which lead directly to the Himalayan Range. The people who inhabit these lands are therefore accustomed to walk hours through little muddy trails just to reach their cultivated fields or their home. The climate surely doesn’t help them. During the summer they are victim of massive quantity of rain brought from the monsoons that destroy their paths, while during the winter the temperature can reach even 10 degrees below the zero with presence of ice. Their lifestyle could seem simple, but is truly strenuous.
Due to the isolation in these remote places, and the absence of electricity, the people still live without any technological devices. At the same time, in the nearest villages to the biggest city of the area (Jumla), some families have begun to buy a small solar panel which allows them to have 2 hours of light during the dinner time. The lack of electricity makes sure that their daily life is organized by the sunlight. In fact, their daily routine goes from dawn (5:30 to 6 a.m.) to dusk (4:30 to 6:30 p.m.) depending on the season of the year. Due to the insidious conformation of the territory, the villages are without sewage and water system which means that the inhabitants are forced to go to the nearest water source, generally rivers, only to get some water to drink, to cook and wash themselves or wash their clothes. The almost absent contact with others realities and the lack of need to buy material goods, makes their economy rather basic. Their source of livelihood and their only income comes exclusively from agriculture, breeding and the sells of some artisan products such as iron pots or carved wood. The livestock breedings are formed by horses, sheeps, buffalos, muttons and chickens where only the last two are used for the locals diet. Regarding the agriculture, depending on the season it is possible to find several type of cultivations, such as potatoes, beans, barley, wheat, rice and many others plants used to feed the animals or even as medicinals. A typical cultivation of these areas are the red beans, which is possible to find only in these hills. In rotation shifts, the work in the fields is usually done by every person of the village, even the children, who early in the morning have to walk for hours just to reach their cultivated land. In order to help their family and consequently their village, the children begin to work usually since a very young age, even from 6 years old. When it is time to go back to the village, every person has to carry a heavy basket made of bamboo called “Doko”, filled with the harvest of the day on their shoulders or tanks full of river water. The others who remain in the village are in charge of the legumes separation process that takes place on the house rooftop where, with a long wooden stick, they hit the dried plants in order to separate the pods from the beans. Who remains in the village is also in charge of preparing the meal for the family. The daily meal is called “Dal Bhaat” and is composed of white rice, beans soup, boiled potatoes and sometimes for the special occasion chicken or mutton meat.
Depending on the season, when the harvest time is finished, usually before the beginning of the winter, they store the remaining supplies in a hole under the ground covered with planks of wood in order to preserve them and avoid the lack of food when the weather blocks the roads which connect the nearby villages. Beyond the agriculture and the breeding, the villagers have other occupations as Blacksmiths, Weavers and Wood Carvers.
Almost every person in this area is descendent from Chhettri caste. According to the Nepali society, the Chhetris are considered as the sacred thread bearers (Tagadhari) and are twice-born people.
Their traditions are quite ancient and still they preserve it with proud. Both men and women are accustomed to wearing traditional dresses and ornaments as jewels. The traditional dress worn by men is called “Daura-Suruwal”, a cotton long dress formed by a shirt and a long pair of pants that is completed with the inevitable hat called “Dhaka-Topi”.
Instead, the feminin dress is called “Gunyo Cholo” and celebrates the passage from childhood to being a woman. Besides, the women are accustomed to wear many jewels usually bequeathed by the mother that symbolize their beauty and richness. In particular, the most rapresentative jewel is the “Bulaki”, a unique nose ring which symbolizes the family membership after the wedding. The people who live in this area still speak their own native language called “Khas”, which is very different from the rest of Nepali dialects.
The ancient religion of the Chhetri is “Masto” which worships the nature in all its forms. However, nowadays the most diffuse belief among them is without any doubt the Hinduism and at the same time Buddhism.
Decades ago with its ascent, the Hinduism brought new customs through the people. The inhabitants of the most remote villages have developed their idea of religion through a strict way of thinking, more male chauvinist. In fact, the “Chhaupadi” is still practiced in several villages. This habit consists in isolating the woman during her menstruation period in a little room outside the home because she is considered impure. During those days, the woman is not allowed to cook, to eat with her family members and even to sleep in her bedroom.
Therefore, even if it is unstoppable, it seems that the globalization didn’t affect these lands and their inhabitants whom are used to live the way they would centuries ago. Their remote location keeps them even outside the possible touristic routes, helping them to preserve the authenticity of these places. In addition, the will of these people who are really bond to traditions plays a fundamental role in their society and daily lives. All these components makes these communities unique in Nepal and at the same time in the entire world, keeping alive the so called true Nepali spirit.