People, Culture, and Food in Manaslu

The Manaslu region is home to a diverse group of people. The Shah dynasty originated here. However, now it is mainly inhabited by the Gurung people. Two ethnicities, Nubri and Tsum, also inhabit the region.

The Gurung people migrated to Nepal from Tibet around the 6th century. Their ancestors traveled west through Tibet before entering Nepal from Mustang. They arrived in Nepal before the spread of Buddhism in Tibet and later converted to Tibetan Buddhism. So, their religion is mixed with Animistic rituals and Buddhist beliefs.

The Nubri ethnic groups came from Tibet around 400 years ago to reside in the Nubri Valley. Roughly 2000 people are residing in Nubri Valley. They have Buddhist and animistic beliefs. Likewise, the Tsum ethnic groups of Tibetan origin have a population of about 4000 spread in the Tsum Valley. They practice Buddhism and Bon po religion. Rice is the staple food of the Gurung people now. Historically, they lived in areas with low rice production. So, their traditional food does not contain much rice. Mohi Chop is one of their classic food items. It is a chili, garlic, salt, and Mohi or skimmed milk blend. They also enjoy Sukuti, which is dried meat, mainly from buffalo.

What is the main religion in the Manaslu region?

In the Manaslu region, the main religions are Tibetan Buddhism and Bon po with animism.

Are there any unique languages spoken in Manaslu?

In the Manaslu region, the unique languages spoken are Nubri and Tsum languages. Nubri remains largely undocumented and undescribed. Only lexicon has been described for this language. The language hence has been classified as "definitely endangered." Likewise, when the Tsum language was identified as a distinct dialect, it had already become endangered.

What is the main festival of the Manaslu region?

As a historic region rich in culture, many festivals are celebrated in the Manaslu region. Filled with deeply religious people, most festivals here have religious significance.

Tsum Shagya Centennial Festival

Tsum Shagya Centennial Festival celebrated the 100th anniversary of Tsum valley's unique custom of non-violence. Since 1920, the inhabitants of the upper Tsum valley have sworn to protect it as a Shagya, which means "Non-sacrificing area." Even before this commitment, the inhabitants lived following Buddha's five precepts of "Ahimnsa Parodharma," which means non-violence is foremost for Dharma ("religion"). The killing was seen as a sin, and even cutting trees was disliked. Around Gompas, it was even prohibited.

The people practice this custom of non-violence by following certain rules, namely:

  • No slaughtering of any animals
  • No hunting
  • No honey hunting
  • No forest fire
  • A complete ban on animal slaughtering
  • Maintain and promote the Shagya

Drukpa Rinpoche Lama Serab Dorje established this custom. Since 1972, the lower Tsum valley was also declared as a Shagya. The punishment for breaking any of the above rules is to light 1000 lamps in Rachen Gompa. This is a famous monastery located in Chhekampar.


Lhosar is an important festival in Nepal. 'Lo' means new, and 'sar' means year. So, Lhosar is the start of a new year for Nepal's Tamang, Gurung, and Sherpa people. Each group has a different Lhosar celebrated on other days. All religious buildings of Buddhism in Nepal are cleaned and decorated on this day. It consists of family gatherings, feasts, and cultural programs.

Tamu Losar is the Lhosar of the Gurung people. It falls in January of the Gregorian calendar. Family members and relatives meet and celebrate. They feast with traditional food and homemade alcohol. Cultural events are organized, and they attend celebrations and festivities on Buddhist shrines. People can be seen wearing traditional outfits to attend these programs.

Sonam Lhosar is the Lhosar of the Tamang people. In the Gregorian calendar, it falls in January or February. They feast and perform their traditional dance, ‘Selo,' playing their traditional instrument, Damphu. The people also clean and decorate their houses and visit monasteries to pray and hang flags. The celebrations are for winning over the opposing forces and providing positive support.

Gyalpo Lhosar is the Lhosar of the Sherpa people. It falls in February or March of the English calendar. It is celebrated with feasts featuring Guthunk and Chhyang (Tibetan beer) dumplings. The houses are cleaned with particular attention to cleaning the kitchen as the family eats.