The exquisite dresses that adorn the locals with their grace and delicacy have remained as a permanent part of daily lives. People still put on their typical Tibetan-style costume despite the influx of modern clothes from China. However, few youths show inclination towards fancy clothes. Among women, large round plated earrings alloyed of gold and silver are distinctive features. Lapton confirms that there is only one jeweler in Kathmandu who knows how to make those earrings, and holds the appreciation of women in Gatlang.
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I am invited to a ceremony of making ‘mit’ and ‘mitini’. I understand the ceremony, but have little clue of what is to come. Precursor legend follows like this. When two persons feel they have met their ‘soul friends’ in this life, they exchange gifts and promises to remain faithful friends for life. This relationship transgresses over seven lifetimes. This is a peculiar tradition of Gatlang, and has remained so for ages. ‘Mit’ is for male soul friends, and ‘mitini’ for female. Sworn, gifts exchanged, and another feast! I witness the ceremony of an American girl and a Tamang girl who bind themselves in a relationship that transcends their lifetimes. This may come as emotional undertaking for many people. And, yes it is.
Spirituality is a way of life in Gatlang. Tamangs share the roots with Tibetan Buddhism and the practice penetrates the fabrics of daily life. Thing I did not witness – Tamang traditional dance. Tamang traditional dance is performed at the Community House upon the request of tourists. Men and women wear traditional Tamang dress, and perform the collective dance. Visitors are not required to pay, but it is commonly understood that donations offered will be used for the preservation of their unique culture.
Life may be a factor of length and breadth, a product of deeds and visions. Yet, there is a difference in quality of intensity in which one lives. Some people live more in a day than others in a week. It is both the quality and quantity that measure the dimensions of life. Here in Gatlang, life has its own denominators – social cohesion, nature’s bounty, traditions, culture and religion, and people’s reverence to the mountains and their environment. When we in the cities are constantly waning our humanity and care for fellow beings and Mother Nature, is it not necessary to reform our understanding of where we stand as human beings and our achievements? It’s 8:00 pm, and I am off to my bed, in anticipation of the next day along the Tamang Heritage Trail.
Photo/text: Amit Shrestha, Nature Trail.