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How the Sherpa Celebrate Dumji

July 18, 2023

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How the Sherpa Celebrate Dumji

The Last Buddhist Kingdom in the world, Nepal has a whole host of festivals and history just waiting to be experienced by the luckiest of travellers. One of the most respected and honored festivals in Nepal, Dumje, also known as Dumji, has been practiced for hundred years in Nepal itself and ties to the very heart of the kingdom’s long, rich history. This event takes place in May or June and is celebrated by Sherpa across Khumbu, from towns and villages like Namche Bazar, Tengboche and Thame to the Chiwong Monastery.


Like many festivals in Nepal, there is an emphasis on family and communities coming together. While Gyalpo Losar, which ushers in the New Year, is arguably the bigger event, the Dumji festival holds a special place in the community with emphasis on the family unit and community coming together to do good work.


What is Dumji?


Dumji, or Dumje, commemorates the birth of Guru Rinpoche, a legendary figure in Nepal and Tibetan Buddhist history. Guru Rinpoche is said to have been born on a lotus flower, relating to his other name Padmasambhava (“Born from a lotus”). He is believed to have lived in the 8th century and is credited for bringing Buddhism to Nepal, and setting up schools of Buddhism in the country. As the Last Buddhist Kingdom on Earth, Buddhism is at the very heart of Nepal, which is why popular festivals like Dumji, Mani Rimdu and Tiji are all linked to Guru Rinpoche in some way.


Like all festivals in Nepal, the Dumji festival historically follows the Tibetan Lunar Calendar. The festival generally lasts 4 to 5 days, although there is a preparatory period beforehand.

How is Dumji Celebrated?


Dumji is a very family and community orientated event, but that isn't to say it isn’t lively. In fact, Dumji has a lot of heart and is one of Nepal’s most vibrant celebrations due to its personal nature. With a focus on community spirit, the celebrations are primarily organized by villages and towns with hosting families chosen to provide food and drinks for the community. The celebrations involve dancing and drinking for the participants, as well as religious rituals and dances performed by Tengboche monks.


On the first day of the festival, the flagpole is raised at the local monastery, which the villagers or townspeople gather in the early afternoon, the villagers gather at the monastery and the hosting family provides 1kg of rice to each member of the family. The second day: consists of worship and gathering at the monastery after lunch to welcome the head monk, ‘Rinpoche’.


As the celebrations progress, in places like Tengboche, Namche Bazar, Pangboche and Khumjung, Tengboche monks will perform Chhyam, traditional Nepali mask dancing, wearing colorful costumes and wielding swords, while young monks will play horns. Traditionally, this is to ward off evil spirits from the village. In the evening, the head monk will burn effigies during ‘Logpar’, an exorcism ritual. All throughout, the hosting families are in charge of providing the food and drink, and also perform traditional Nepali and Sherpa dances after dinner.


As the celebrations come to a close, the head monk, called a ‘Rinpoche’, provides blessings to the town or village residents and then families for the next year’s Dumji are chosen. As the day ends and night sets in, the festival will close with lively dancing and singing at the monastery compound.

Best Nepali Food for the Celebrations


Every thirteen years, the honor traditionally falls to roughly three to eight families to provide drink and sustenance to an entire village or town during these four or five days. Generally, the last 6 days before the festival are a part of the preparatory period, with the community pitching in a hand to help the hosting families make different local foods and drinks.


The Sherpa of Nepal have a whole host of tasty cuisine that’s a must try. Here are a few delicious Sherpa favorites below:


Momo, a national favourite:


Dumplings are a staple in Nepal, and one dumpling dish that’s a national favorite is Momo. These steamed, stuffed dumplings is a popular Sherpa snack and dish in Nepal, traditionally coming with minced or ground meat like lamb or pork. Fillings these days can also include tofu, vegetables, cheese and paneer. Momos can also be pan-fried or deep-fried.


Tsampa:


Another popular Sherpa dish, Tsampa is a traditional dish made from roasted barley flour and is pretty hearty. You usually mix it with butter tea and yak cheese to make a delicious dough that tastes great and gives you the energy you need for the day.


Sha Phaley


Originally from Tibet, Sha Phaley has found a home with the Sherpa community as well. Sha Phaley is bread or a dough traditionally stuffed with a mixture of seasoned, minced meat and cabbage.


Various Soups and Stews


Nepali and Sherpa people also have an excellent variety of spicy soups and stews that can be served for the Dumji Festival. Soups like Thukpa, a delicious, spiced noodle soup, and Rildok, a light mashed potato dumpling soup dish, are highly popular. These soups are bursting with flavor, while not being that difficult to make, making them an excellent cooking option for hosting families to make.


Sherpa tea and beer


Nothing washes it all down like tea and beer. Hosting families can provide a number of teas, however an all-time favorite of the Sherpa community is Sherpa salt butter tea, which is a combination of black tea, yak butter and salt. It’s delicious, both in flavor and design, making it a must try. Another favourite for celebrations is “Chhaang”, or Changkol, a distilled, milky alcoholic beverage made from fermented kodo millet and “raksi”, a strong, alcoholic beverage which often is a part of religious ceremonies one way or another.


Celebrating with Sherpa


To commemorate such an important festival for Nepal and the Sherpa people, Sherpa Adventure Gear brings you our men and women’s beautiful Dumji knitwear collection. The heart of the Himalayas in thread and style, with ethical woolen warmth for those higher altitudes, these premium sweaters always serve you well as you enjoy the rich culture of the Sherpa and Nepal.