Simikot Local Customs

  • Butter tea served in Jang, Limi Valley
    Butter tea served in Jang, Limi Valley
    by Saagar
  • Thakuri children
    Thakuri children
    by Saagar
  • Local radish and saag leaves at 4000 meters, Yang
    Local radish and saag leaves at 4000...
    by Saagar

Most Recent Local Customs in Simikot

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    Salt tea

    by Saagar Written Feb 15, 2007

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    Humli people will be quick to offer you tea. This tea might not be what you are used to, since limited availability of commodities and old traditions reign. Even the hinud community of Humla might thus serve up salt tea outside Simkot (where sugar and milk powder is flown in). The salt tea might be found on a scale from refreshing and ok to right-out horrible, depending on the quality of the ingredients, especially butter. If the butter is rancid, the tea will be rancid. It is made by boiling the ingrediants in a kettle (low quality brick tea from Tibet, salt milk, water), and curned with butter in a tube-like butter/salt tea churner, then pured into your cup. The cup is often Chinese or Tibetan style delicate porcellain or wooden silver-lined tea cups with a lid. You may choose to finish it off by quickly drinking it up, but that only prompts the host to refuill your cup.
    Think of salt tea/butter tea as bullion or soup; then it's an excellent rehydrator in the mountains.

    Butter tea served in Jang, Limi Valley
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    Local food - grains and vegetables

    by Saagar Updated Jan 17, 2007

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    Millet:
    You can make a porridge, pakodas, noodles, cakes, alcohol (Humlis make porridge and alcohol)

    Buckwheat:
    Pancakes, noodles, various dumplings, mixed flour etc. (Humlis make sour pancakes, mainly)

    Potatoes:
    You can make just about anything with potatoes. (Humlis curry and fry them and boild them, too)

    Simi/beans:
    The best beans in Nepal are from Humla, used as dal, curried or bean soup. Major cash crop in Humla.

    Radish:
    The ever-present moola in varieties; raw, currier, fried, pickled, dried and mashed (you can buy radishes in many parts of Humla).

    Barley:
    You will find barley being used for tsampa mush or as alcohol mainly, but also excellent bread flour mixed.

    Green leaf veggies:
    As saag, anything goes, it seems. Not very refined, but a great way of making use of root crop leaves and just anything else green.

    Black rice:
    High altitude rice: found as far up the Karnali as Kholsi village.

    Chinnu:
    Beyond rice -> this is the rice substitute in medium high altitude. Very tasty, a hint of couscous.

    Amaranth: A valuable spice seed, but in Humla mainly groud as snack breads. Nice color.

    Local radish and saag leaves at 4000 meters, Yang
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    Indoor lighting

    by Saagar Written May 20, 2006

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    Outside Simkot, which has photovoltaic lighting a few hours each evening, and a few lucky villages that have micro-hydro plants, there are no lights.
    Kerosene is too far away for making it accessible, and candles are by and large absent outside Simkot. Local people use thin, dried sticks of resin-saturated core wood of pine for lighting, and stick them in the cracks of the walls, or leave them to burn on the upturned bottoms of cooking pans. It gets very sooty and is a terrible eye irritant. Interesting to experience, and it gets nice and cosy as such, but living under such conditions takes its toll on health and cleanliness.

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    Vibrant shamanism

    by Saagar Written Nov 7, 2005

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    In today's Nepal, the Humlis are probably carriers of the most vibrant shamanistic culture. The Thakuris, ancient hundu believers are themselves the propagators of shamanistic beliefs. Yet their work, customs and clothing resembles that of the local Tibetan cultures, the notion of superiority is there, but among other Nepalis from the central and southern parts their language and beliefs are considered somewhat backward in light of contemporary cultural trends. Some Humlis of aryan stock, also non-Thakuris, tend to carry turbans, and this is a remnant of the ancient pre-moslem Khas culture of Central Asia and Northern India/Pakistan.
    Near and in the villages and homes of the Thakuri and fellow chhetris you will find various signs of orthodox hindu beliefs and archaic practices, such as masta shrines, animistic rites, shamanistic events, mixed up with small shrines to Shiva, Durga and other gods and godesses. For visitors it is easier to visit Lama and dalit households, who do not have these severe cultural and practical obstacles and rigid notions of ritual cleanliness lodged into their lives. Before going to Humla, it is very interesting and certainly and advantage if you familiarize yourself with these important factors of the humlis' culture(s).

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    Orthodox and archaic hinduism

    by Saagar Written Nov 7, 2005

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    A good portion of the Humlis belong to roughly what in Nepal are said to be chhetri caste. This may not be entirely accepted within Humla and their notion of social stratification. They consider themselves as elevated of that. This is important to acknowledge when dealing with people, so not to inadvertently insult or ritually pollute people. Now, my patience with the caste system only reaches that far, redundant, ripe for the historical scrap heap, but still, it's the rule...
    While brahmins, the pundits and priestly caste are important also here, their role in Humlis' lives seem fairly limited. They are simply very destitute. Instead it is the Thakuri people who are the real cultural and political elite as thought by themselves especially, but their peers, too. The Thakuris are the remnants of the original carriers of the Nepali language and hindu culture, forced east into the hills and mountains by moslem invaders several hundered years back. Their caste was and is considered that of khsattriya (warrior) in Nepali chhetri, but they are anthropologically since quite recently been considered as a separate people. Certainly they are of Aryan stock with aquiline noses, and carriers of archaic Nepali language and pahari culture that involves an archaic form of orthodox hinduism mixed up with significant elements of animism, ancestor-beliefs and shamanism.

    Thakuri children
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Simikot Local Customs

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