Zhangmu Town Ethnic Culture
Located in Nyalam County on the Nepal-China border, Zhangmu, about 776 km (482 mi.) away from the capital of Tibet Lhasa, (also as Dram in Tibetan Language or Zham in Nepali) is a customs town and port of entry acrossing the Bhote Koshi River from the Nepalese Town of Kodari with an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level. Zhangmu has mild and humid subtropical climate, which is a rarity for Tibet, which is supposedly owed to nearby Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. Visitors come mainly for climbing up the lofty mountain, appreciating the heavenly sights, or pilgrimage at its holiness. However, for the particular location, Zhangmu Town itself can form an interesting array of scenery for the visitors.
The ethnic groups in Nyalam County are Tibetan, Han, Hui, Tujia, Sherpa and Nepalese, and Kachart (mixed-blood of Tibetan and Nepalese). Among them, the Tibetan population is 13,000, accounting for 86.7% of the total population of the county. More than 1,000 Sherpa people in Tibet are mainly concentrated in Zhangmu Town. There are more than 3,000 permanent residents in Zhangmu Town, more than 20 foreign trade and border trade companies, and an average daily population of about 1,000. The annual commodity transaction volume has exceeded 200 million yuan. Up to now, Zhangmu Port is the largest border trade center port in Tibet.
The customs and religious practices of the Sherpa people are influenced by the natural environment and traditional culture, and some are similar to the Tibetans. However, they are more colorful and unique. Most of the Sherpa people believe in Tibetan Buddhism. Most of them believe in the Sakya and Gagyu sects, and also believe in the Gelug and Nyingma sects. The believers of the Sakya and Gagyu sects can marry at home, do not live in temples, cultivate the land of temples, they just take turns to go to the temple to burn incense, and chanting. They use Buddhist canons as a code of conduct, and lamas enjoy a special status among the Sherpa people. They also admire ghosts, and all the major events shall make divination first and then decided.
1. Tibetan New Year
Tibetan New Year is the Tibetan people’s traditional festival, and the most solemn festival. Shigatse not only celebrates the Farmers’ Year on December 1 in Tibetan Calendar, but also the Tibetan New Year on January 1 in Tibetan calendar.
2. Saga Dawa
Saga Dawa is an important Tibetan Buddhist festival, held each year on the full moon day of the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, to celebrate Sakyamuni’s enlightenment”, that’s what every guidebook will tell you. But actually having been there, at that moment it is more like being part of a magic event, something that gets a total grip on all of your senses. Each year, they replace the Tarboche flagpole, a huge pole that stands round of Kailash. People from all over Tibet gather here that day to attach their prayer flags they brought from home, to pray, and to help erect the flagpole. The flagpole should stand perfectly upright, or else things are not good for Tibet . A Lama leads the whole ceremony from the nearby monastery. It’s his job to make it work.