The land of Yeti, Tsum Valley
The unique culture and tradition of people living in this valley have remained intact even though modernity has gripped almost every place in Nepal. Many Tsumbas (residents of Tsum Valley) say that they have seen or found the signs of methi, commonly referred to as the ‘Yeti’ or ‘Abominable Snowman.’
Tsum comes from the Tibetan work ‘Tsombo,’ which means vivid. Historically, Tsum valley was a culturally distinct geographical area called ‘Tsum Tso Checksums,’ which means 13 provinces ruled as a single territory. The valley was recently opened for foreigners.
Situated at an altitude arise from a 1905m at Lokpa to over 5093m at Ngala Dhojhyang on the Tibetan border, the valley occupies an area of about 1663 sq. Km. Tsum Valley, popularly known as the “Hidden Valley,” is surrounded by Himal Chuli and Baudha Himal in the western past Ganesh Himal from the southern part and Sringi Himal from the Northen part. Tsum Valley includes two remote village development committees — Chahe Kampar (Upper Tsum) and Chumchet (Lower Tsum).
The valley is especially untouched by modernism. Due to its remoteness, numerous ancient relics are seen almost everywhere in the valley. The unique culture and tradition of people living in this valley have remained intact even though modernity has gripped almost every place in Nepal. Many Tsumbas (residents of Tsum Valley) say that they have seen or found the signs of methi, commonly referred to as the ‘Yeti’ or ‘Abominable Snowman.’
Thumbs are mostly of Tibetan origin and have a unique dialect. They are often referred to as ‘Bhote’ or ‘Bhotiya.’ Most of the Tsubas practice polyandry systems and families that are practicing polyandry systems are found well-managed and prosperous than other families.
According to elders, a group of nomads called Tamba Setto migrated to this Valley from Bichour in the Lamjung district many centuries ago. They were connected by the Bu Phaujyas, who came from Tibet to spread Buddhism. The Buddhist saint named “Milarepa” is believed to have meditated in the caves on the laps of mountains in Tsum Valley.
People in Tsum Valley have strong faith in Buddhism. They respect and worship Buddha, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), and some bodhisattvas. They install prayer flags, khata, or mani walls and burn butter lamps in monasteries, and they believe in the reincarnation of lamas. They follow numerous rituals, festivals against devil entities. They don’t believe in animal sacrifice to please their deities.
Tsumbas believe in reincarnation; thus, birth and death are just cyclic and not supreme. The birth of the child is a social occasion that reunites friends and family members. Generally, older adults in the house take care of the newborn, letting the adults work. Winter is a suitable season for marriage, as there is plenty of time to celebrate. Traditionally, older people find a match for youths. However, young people have started selecting partners on their own. The ritual of cremating dead people is very interesting. The dead body is kept untouched for several days until Lama’s visit. The astrological chart of the dead person determines the type of burial as per the four components — cremation, ground burial, water burial, or the sky.
Tsumbas are joyous by nature, and they celebrate numerous festivals, mask dances, and other rituals throughout the year. Festivals are the way for preserving centuries-old practices and make merry. Lhosar or the New Year festival is the most important in Tsum Valley. However, Tsumbas in Lower Tsum Valley celebrates the festival earlier than the Tsumbas in Upper Tsum. Dhaching or horse riding festival is another important festival in the hidden valley. Men enjoy horse riding and participate in races while women sing and dance in the evening. The festival is celebrated in December/January. Saka Dawa is another important festival in Tsum Valley. Rituals are performed at local monasteries and nunneries, and people take fast for a whole day during this festival.
Trek to Tsum Valley begins from Arughat in the Gorkha district and mostly end in Arughat. But the trek can also be linked to Annapurna Conservation Area before concluding at Besi Sahar in Lamjung.