Nature and environment shape people and cultures that thrive in their midst. Social anthropologists have long considered the subtle impact that ecology has on the overall predisposition of a population, as well as the society, lifestyle & practices that it produces. It has been witnessed time and again that land shapes its inhabitants.
So what sort of a people has the greatest mountain range on the Earth evolved and cradled amongst its innumerable valleys, plateaus, passes and peaks? Who exactly are the Himalayan People? What are they like? How do they live and what human legacies do they leave behind as generations of their wandering tribes, semi-nomadic groups or settled populations continue to pass the torch down over the ages? These are the questions we seek to provide answers to, with our attempt at bringing slivers of their remarkable lives to you through the food, art, culture, handicrafts and stories of the Himalayan People.
The Himalayas are geologically the youngest fold mountains in the world. In fact, they represent one of the greatest upheavals in the planet’s crust that is still on-going! Consequently, the Himalayas are a mountain range that, despite the awe-inspiring, hair raising, spectre of their desolate heights, are incredibly soft (even delicate) at their core! The hardy exterior hides within itself a gentleness that is difficult to fathom. Therein lies the essence of the Himalayan People. The difficult terrains, climatic gauntlets, day-to-day logistical challenges and often, tough economic conditions, have over the eons produced a people of remarkable perseverance and ingenuity. Despite artificial political and national boundaries that have nominally differentiated them on paper maps in modern times, there runs an unmistakable unifying grain of socio-cultural proximity in all the people of the Himalayas. It is visible in the colours of their fabrics and handicrafts. It lends an audible oneness to their folk music & dance styles and imparts a familial flavour to their cuisines and food habits. The people are industrious and efficient in using the local materials and available resources to fashion artefacts of incredible beauty and practical utility. Above all else though, what ties the Himalayan People together most is an invisible thread of unassuming humility, peace-loving, friendly nature and an impossible-to-miss openness with which they welcome the outsider into their homes and lives to share in the collective human experience.