Introduction to the Sherpa of Nepal

  • Mount Glory Team
  • Last Updated on Nov 5, 2023

Table of Contents

Sherpa also called Sharwa are about 150,000 in number and dwels people of Nepal. Sherpa is a major Ethnic group that lives in the high mountains of the Himalayas in northern Nepal. They are well known for being guides, to trekkers who want to climb Mount Everest and other highest mountains in the world. They are hardworking, brave, and peaceful people. Nowadays, many sherpa are in contact with western and their life and culture has changed drastically.


Location Of Sherpa:

Sherpa is mainly located in the Khumbu region which lies in the southern part of Mount Everest. They also live in the east of Khulung. the valley of Dudhkoshi, Rowaling rivers, Langtang Helambu region, and north of Kathmandu are major places where sherpa are found. They are originally from Tibet and migrated to Nepal and the Himalayas for thousands of years. These people are small in stature and fair in complexion with distinctive facial features like people of Tibetian Origin. During the winter months, people descend to lower elevations while people return to their village at the New Year festival. They managed their life preparing fields and sowing crops.


Language, Culture, And Religions Of Sherpa:

Sherpali or Sherpa is the major language of these ethnic groups which is a dialect of Tibetian. Although the Sherpali language is heavily borrowed from the neighboring languages it belongs to Tibeto Burman and branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. The sherpa uses Tibetan script for writing and the Nepali language while dealing with other people. Due to the influence of tourists, many sherpas nowadays are fluent in English as well.

Abominable Snowman known as Yeti is a unique element in sherpas folklore. Yeti were numerous in the past and attracted and terrorized local villagers.

Many sherpas belong to Buddhism. They are local deities borrowed from pre-Buddhist born religion. They also believe in Neumorus gods and demons. They have worshiped Buddha as the fabric of rituals. Their location is in the Great Himalayan mountains which are worshiped as Gods.

Sherpa called Mount Everest Chomolunga and worshiped it as the mother of the world. Mount Makalu is worshiped by the Deity Shiva. Every mountain in the Himalayas is worshiped and prayed to as god. Lamas are spiritual leaders and religious practitioners living in the village. Lama performs every ceremony in Sherpa like weddings, Death rituals, and other household functions. These people believe in supernatural power and spirit. Monastries and Gumbas are major religious aspects of the Sherpa religion. There are many monasteries and gumbas scattered throughout the Himalayas which are religious institutions. There are communities of lamas or monks who take vows of celibacy and lead a life searching for truth and religious enlightenment. They are respected and supported by a large community and their contact with the outside world is limited. They invite many people during annual festivals and funerals and read sacred texts during funerals wishing for a better life of passed out once in heaven.


Food And Clothings Of Sherpa:

As per their living status and location, their diets are mainly dominated by starchy foods, supplemented by vegetables, spices, and meat occasionally. Sherpa drinks Tibetan tea which is served with salt and butter. Lunch includes boiled potatoes which are dipped in the grand species sometimes stiff dough is made from grain and eaten with a thin sauce made from vegetables spices and meat. Shakpa is a tropical dinner made from potatoes and vegetables while dairy products especially butter, milk, and curds are important in diets.

The main clothes of Sherpa are similar to Tibetans. Both men and women wear a long inner shirt over a pant-like garment made of wool. They also wear Bakhuu that reaches below the knees and fastens at the sides. They wear high wooled boots with hide soles. Women usually wear multi-color striped apparel to cover the front and back of their bodies below the waist. Both married and unmarried women wear aprons while married women wear front apparel. Various ornaments and a distinctive cap called Shamahu are famous among Sherpa Women. Nowadays these typical clothes are disappearing among young sherpas who have worked on mountain expeditions so, they wear altitude clothing.


Education And Employment Of Sherpas:

Only very few sherpas have formal schooling in the past but nowadays primary schools are being introduced. There are very few sherpas who can read and write.

Traditionally, agriculture is a major economic activity of the Sherpa of the Khumbu region. They raise maize, barley, Buckwheat, and potatoes. Due to the high altitude farming is difficult. Sherpa raises Yak, and cattle that survive in high elevations. Yak is a major animal to provides wool and milk. They sold milk and butter for grain. These animals are used for plowing. Sherpas are famous for trade between Nepal and Tibet as their location and language schools. Salt, sheep wool, meat, and yak products are brought to Nepal from Tibet by Sherpas.

Sherpa is reputed as excellent mountain guides and porters as they have excellent climbing and expedition skills. Trekking and mountain expeditions have brought new sources of income for comfortable living. So, many young sherpas are nowadays involved with trekking industries for employment.

Mount Glory Team

Mount Glory Team

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