A Hindu Festival in a Buddhist Monastery

An example of religious harmony in Nepal. [But some people want to differ. That is why this post has an update below on 28 October.]

Hindu Festival Dashain Celebrations in a Buddhist Monastery

This Padmasambhava idol of lord Buddha is taken out of the Tarke Gyang monastery only once in a year, on the day of Dashami (10th and most important day of Dashain festival), according to the head monk (lama). [Related article in Nepali: पदयात्राका पात्रहरू Below is the video of the ceremony.]

Oct 21 [Tarke Gyang]: They say traveling is learning. I feel that’s right. You learn about so many things while traveling new places. About cultures and people. When we reached Tarke Gyang, village in Helambu region, we saw a ceremony in the Monastery there. What’s that about? We wanted to know. “It’s our Dashain,” said the main monk (Lama) who was performing the ceremony. “You guys celebrate Dashain in your own ways and we celebrate it in our own way.” He was taking us as Hindu. Dashain is the biggest festival of Hindus and is considered national festival in Nepal though many would like to counter this “consideration”. I had always known that Hindu and Buddhist religions are so interrelated in Nepali society that their followers live in harmony. Buddha was born in Nepal and Hindu religion considers him an incarnation of lord Vishnu. Hindus celebrate Buddha Purnima (full moon day, the day Buddha was born and got enlightenment) and Buddhists also celebrate many Hindu traditions. I used to think not until long ago that there was actually no difference in these two religions because of the way followers of these two religions enjoy such a nice relationship. As I have mentioned in my Interests page, I am religiously secular person and I respect all religions equally. So the Dashain celebration in the Tarke Gyang monastery was an example of religious harmony for me. “Hindus sacrifice many animals during the two days of Maha Astami and Maha Nawami (eighth and ninth day of 15-day long Dashain),” said Kanchha Lama, the head monk of the monastery. “And we fast on those two days and prey for the soul of those animals killed in those two days.” And a young man added: “Hindus put tika from their seniors. We receive tika in the evening from head Lama.”

Hindu Festival Dashain Celebrations in a Buddhist Monastery

Hindu Festival Dashain Celebrations in a Buddhist Monastery

Hindu Festival Dashain Celebrations in a Buddhist Monastery

Update 28 Oct.: Suraj and I wrote about that celebration in our travelogue (पदयात्राका पात्रहरू)that was published in yesterday’s edition (27 October) of Kantipur daily. Not all people were happy. A group of Yolmo (pronounced Hyolmo) organization people came to Kantipur Complex today to meet me. They were angry about the theme of the story. They said that that was not the Dashain ceremony. “We Buddhists don’t celebrate Dashain,” one of them said. “To say that we celebrate Dashain is an insult to us.”

They wanted to publish their comment in the newspaper and I happily accepted. Their version of the story will appear in tomorrow’s edition of the paper. Here is an excerpt of the conversation that took place between the group and me:

“But I didn’t write that from my imagination,” I said. “The lama who was actually performing the ceremony told me explicitly that they were celebrating Dashain. And I have clearly attributed the saying to him in the story.”

“Well the Lama is wrong,” said a guy. “We are the authority. We are the people who run the [non governmental] Hyalmo (people from Helambu region identity themselves as Yolmo or Hyolmo) organizations.”

Hindu Festival Dashain Celebrations in a Buddhist Monastery

Hindu Festival Dashain Celebrations in a Buddhist Monastery

Hindu Festival Dashain Celebrations in a Buddhist Monastery

The head monk (lama) and others performing pooja inside the monastery.

“Well not only the Lama but people who were participating in the ceremony also told me that they were celebrating Dashain,” I said. “Actually they used the term Dashain. They could have said anything but they didn’t. They said they were indeed celebrating Dashain in their own style.”

“They are wrong,” another said.

“Monastery is a place that teaches nonviolence,” reads their statement that I will post tomorrow on this web site. “We don’t celebrate a festival like Dashain that kills so many animals in such place.”

“Yes I understand your sentiment,” I repeated. “But the Lama and the people organizing the ceremony told me that they were celebrating Dashain.”

“That’s wrong,” said one of them.

“Anyone of you from Tarke Gyang village?” I inquired.

No, there were none.

What I have to say after all this? Well, politics is the name of the game. You play the game in the name of religion, in the name of region and in the name of ethnicity. One of them blamed me that since I was Hindu I was trying to impose my “Hindu superiority” upon them. I protested. I told him that I wasn’t a Hindu. I didn’t want to be identified as Hindu. I am a Human.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Dinesh Wagle.”

“What does Wagle mean?”

By then I was almost loosing my temper. “Okay, call me John Bush. Now what do you have to say?” I would have also added: “Call me Tashi Tenzing.”

Some people are really engrossed in the petty politics of petty subjects. God (of all religion) save Nepal.

10 thoughts on “A Hindu Festival in a Buddhist Monastery

  1. Kunsang Sherpa Yolmo

    Thank you so much for providing Yolmo video.I am from Tarkeyghyang too.If you have any question then please you can contact me.Thank you once again


  2. yolmo

    Wagle dai
    I came to know that you have posted article about Helambu Tarkeyghyang.It was great and thank you for doing that.
    In your article there is nothing wrong.what ever Lama from Helambu and local people said is true……….. Y. Association and whoever don’t agree with this article plz go ask all Yolmo villages what we do time of Dasai (Nawami and Dasami) It is true that we don’t secrifies animal….. But we do selebrate Dasai Tika.
    What the hell Yolmo association……..Who said you are the authority?.
    You are the one who said not to wear own yolmo culture dress instead encouraging yolmo people to wear Tibetain dress and now whatever culture have been happening in Helambu, you are agaist that ancient culture? Mind your business..You run Yolmo association it doesnot mean that you can do whatever you wish to .Mind it. You might say not to stay in our own place then……….. We have to listen to you?.That is impossible.I don’t know what kind of Buddhism you guys practice? Inviolence………? I am also Yolmo and Buddhist as well but I do respect other religion.


  3. sonam Yolmo

    Oww nice pictures. Keep it up. Yolmo association don’t have right to say that.Most of the Yolmo monestries selebrate Dasai Tika including Melamchegoan Tarkeyghyang etc .Yolmo association and people who live in Kathmandu have no idea and they name only Hyolmo association. Bandar kya janu sandray ka sawad. Plz you guys don’t play dirty politic in the name of relegion and culture. I wanna warn you that don’t ever try to make your own by leaving own culture and custom and accepting other culture and dress. Save Yolmo culture and avoid politic.


  4. Kunsang Yolmo

    Wagle dai
    First of all I would like to thank you for providing beautiful article as well as pictures.You have created beautiful website……..Good job keep it up.
    Secondly I would like to appologise on the behalf of Hyolmo Organisation as well as people who came to protest.Actually they should not say that and declaring themselves as an “authority” is completely wrong.I know they have done some positive things to improve and preserve Hyolmo culture.I agree with that but Hyolmo organisation they have no right to interfere ( domintion) in our culture.We know what is our culture and tradition.We have been selebrating this Dasai Tika which is also know as “Mani Chhopa” from long time.So tell me…. who knows the culture about that place you guys or people who born there?


  5. neema

    hello wagle dai i appreciate for what you have written.i think all the yolmo people dont understand or some pretend not to understand..that all the culture are the same but the way they practise is different..it would b grt if you could post the pictures of other yolmo villages either…thanking u in instead…


  6. Hyolmo

    Wangle Ji
    First of all Daneyabat for posting Hyolmo article and pictures.Actually I was searching news or anything regarding Helambu and I found your website…..and all this sort of thing.
    Why this Hyolmo organisation always pock their nose.I heard enough……… I don’t know what they think about themselves……..They have no right to interfer in ourculture.Hyolmo organisation in Kathmandu don’t accept real Hyolmo culture but they encourage innocent Hyolmo to follow Tibetain culture.We respect Tibetain culture but Hyolmo culture is Tibetain culture.We were never against Hyolmo organisation..Now time to act . Wake up Hyolmo people ( Speacially Helambu,Hyolmo people).Almost all Hyolmo village selebrate Dasai Festival which is called Dasai Tikka.
    Hindu and Buddhist are interrelated from long long time,Ancient time.If we turn the pages of our history then we can find out.May be this people didn’t study about our history….How can they know since the represent Tibetain not Hyolmo Nepali.If they were Nepali then they won’t accept other cultural.
    In Hyolmo organisation, they proclaim Nepal is secular state but their mind is still century back.
    Changing is development but not that much change ……. forgeting own place, culture and tradition…. Developing is good but not forgetting what ever happing culture is better and keeping it fresh is best.
    Hope you guys got it what I mean to say.
    Once again thank you Wagle dai….Keep posting interesting articles.Good Job!!!!!


  7. Lama Karma Gyaltsen Yolmo

    Dear Wagleji,

    1. What you literally saw in Tarkeghyang is true; some form of religious ceremony taking place on the same day of the main day of the Hindu Dashain. However your interpretation of it being a celebration of Dashain is hundred percent wrong.

    2. The Lamas who you have as your main informants of this event are local lamas who are learned in their religious/ cultural practices but who do not
    understand the politics of words. And mind you Neapali is not their mother tongue. However well they could communicate with you in Nepali is through verbal skill of the language they have acquired through mingling with the nepali speaking communities not through formal schooling. In stead of treating what they said literally as a meaningful information for your writing,
    as a learned writer if you had even bothered asking the same Lamas what actually takes place in this event, you would have definitely come to a different conclusion. In other words your writing was bit too much on surface to be from a learned writer.

    3. For your information, what happens during this event in Tarkeghyang as in many other ghyangs throuhout Yolmo (Helambu), prayers take place on behalf of the animals/birds sacrificed by the Hindus in the name of religion. Recitation of Mani mantra (Om Mani Padme Hung) is the central part of the event like in the funeral rites held when a person dies. It’s prayed that the sacrificed ones along with all sentient being in general be liberated from samsara or be born with a better life. So it’s in fact exactly the opposite of what you wrote. It’s NOT A CELEBRATION, but a MOURNING ceremony!
    Such an Ironny!

    And Yolmo friends who posted comments on Mr. Wagle’s comment, please try to learn about ourselves and our culture a little more before being carried away by our political instincts and making such weightless comments based on what side you belong to or not. Both the article and as well as your comments fail to represent the truth.

    Thanks and happy and (more) meaningful writing!


  8. Pingback: Dashain the Festival is an Opportunity to Travel | Wagle Street Journal

  9. Pingback: त्यो दसैंमा… | ब्लगमान्डू

Please post your thoughts. (कृपया तपाईंलाई लागेको लेख्नुस् ।)

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s