Ever since I started talking with Pema Dorje Sherpa during this past summer I’ve been intrigued by the Sherpa customs and I was anxious to one day be the recipient of my own “kata”, which is a length of yellow silk (about 5 or 6 feet long) draped around the shoulders of an esteemed guest. It’s a nice tradition and it’s a humble way of showing admiration and respect. I remember seeing a photo of Sir Edmund Hillary heaped over by katas and flower, thinking how absurd but that they really loved him. That reminds me of the tradition in Hawaii to drape strands of blissfully fragrant plumerias on revered dignitaries and hokey mainland tourists. That reminds me, I must have landed at the Honolulu airport at least ten times and I never got lei’d. So I was due for a little traditional acknowledgment from some culture in the world. Pema described how many of the Sherpa traditions came to the land centuries ago with the Tibetan emigrants, probably packed atop dzos. A significant part of the traditions and customs originate in the deeply devout Buddhist faith of their forefathers from the northern plateau.(more…) customs Kathmandu Sherpa society shopping travel trekking Trekking in Nepal
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We were recently looking through our collection of photos from Nepal to find some truly representative traditional Sherpa clothing. Pema told me about the old days when they would wear fur hats and shoes that were just a patch of leather wrapped around the feet and padded with dried grass. In all of recorded digital history though we couldn’t find anyone in such a quaint outfit, but Pema was proud to share a photo from when he had dressed up in his finest. There he was in a Stetson hat and cowboy boots, along with his chuba and kanam. He insisted that this was a traditional outfit, but we were sure he didn’t understand. To me “traditional” means it has cultural significance, that you wear it on certain occasions, and you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing it under normal circumstances, like when we dress up as pilgrims and Indians in America for Thanksgiving. Or am I the only one that still does that? So we repeated and clarified the question to Pema if he had pictures in traditional clothing. And then we traded incredulous shrugs.