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. Tsum valley was a culturally distinct geographical area called ‘Tsum Tso Checksums.’ This means 13 provinces ruled as a single territory. The tourism industry had recently opened the valley for foreigners.

 Tsum Valley:

Situated at an altitude from 1905m at Lokpa to over 5093m at Ngala Dhojhyang on the Tibetan border, the valley occupies an area of about 1663 sq. Km. In addition, Tsum Valley is popularly known as the “Hidden Valley.” Himal Chuli and Baudha Himal surround it in the western part. Also, Ganesh Himal and Sringi Himal surround the southern and northern parts.

Also, tsum Valley includes two remote village development committees — Chahe Kampar (Upper Tsum) and Chumchet (Lower Tsum).

 

Modernization is far from the valley. It is a highly remote area. In the valley, there are numerous ancient relics everywhere. The unique culture and tradition of people living in this valley have remained intact even though modernity has gripped almost every place in Nepal. Furthermore, 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.’

 

Tsumbas:

Thumbs are mainly of Tibetan origin and have a unique dialect. They are often referred to as ‘Bhote’ or ‘Bhotiya.’ Polyandry system is popular in Tsubas families. Those families are 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 “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. People there follow numerous rituals and festivals against devil entities. But they don’t believe in animal sacrifice to please their deities.

Believes and Rituals:

Tsumbas believe in reincarnation; thus, birth and death are just cyclic and not supreme. The child’s birth 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 fascinating. The dead body is kept untouched for several days until Lama’s visit. Also, 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.

 

Festivals:

Tsumbas are joyous by nature and celebrate numerous festivals, mask dances, and other rituals throughout the year. Festivals are a way of preserving centuries-old practices and making merry. Lhosar, or the New Year festival, is the most important in Tsum Valley. However, Tsumbas in Lower Tsum Valley celebrate 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 a fast for a whole day during this festival.

 

Trek to Tsum Valley begins from Arughat in the Gorkha district and mostly ends in Arughat. The trail follows the Manaslu Circuit route for the first few days of the trek. Thus, we can extend the trek with Manaslu Circuit. The trek can also be linked to Annapurna Conservation Area before concluding at Besi Sahar in Lamjung.