THE YAK’S BLOOD DRINKING FESTIVAL

The visitors stand in queue to drink a glass full of Yak’s blood

By LB THAPA FOR THE ROAMING POST

A Yak is being prepared to drain his blood out. ecs.comp.np

Nepal has been popular for its glorious cultural and traditional practices. Many of those cultural and traditional practices are very old, while others have become popular only in recent time. Over the years some traditional practices have attracted many people at home and abroad.

In fact there are a number of fascinating traditions popular across the country, the Chauri Mela, has special place to put in. Yak Blood Drinking Festival is observed twice in a year at Khopra Lake in Myagdi and Marche Lake in Mustang, where unbelievably a large number of people gather and drink fresh, hot blood of yaks.

The other day Chauri Mela was organized at Boksi Khola in Kobang village development committee, Mustang. This Mela was special as the people who gathered there had drunk Yak’s blood worth one crore rupees. According to Lal Prassad Gauchan, president of Dhaulagiri Chauripalan Krishak Samuh about 16 thousand people had drunk hot and fresh Yak’s blood.

Collecting blood of a Yak. annapurna-everest-basecamp.blogspot.com

About 500 Yaks were brought to the venue, where they were tied gently so that their blood could be drawn in big jars. From each Yak about 20 to 30 glass full of blood can be drained out at a time. Many people who drink Yak’s blood believe that their chronic ailments will be cured. According to Khim Gauchan, a local resident of Myagdi said: “Every year I go to witness the grand Chauri Mela. Ever since I started visiting the Mela and drank Yak’s blood, I got rid of blood pressure, allergy and asthma completely. This year I took my wife with me. She also drank a glass of Yak’s blood. At first she grew skeptic. But later she agreed to attend Chauri Mela and also drank a glass full of Yak’s blood. I’m fully convinced about the cure of her allergy and gastric problems.”

One has to pay one hundred rupees to get one glassful of Yak’s blood. However, five years ago one glass of Yak’s blood would cost only 25 rupees. It is still considered cheaper and more people gather here to taste Chauri’s blood. The popular belief is that a glass of Yak’s blood has magical power of curing several physical ailments. With a high hope of getting cured of physical ailments, every year a sizeable amount of crowd reach here. People who reach here don’t mind paying any money as they only wish to get rid of the diseases they are suffering from.

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Everyone is not allowed to bring Yaks in the programme. According to the Chauri Mela Organizing Committee, Mustang, those villagers raising minimum 40 Yaks can bring their Yaks at the fair. This condition has encouraged local people to raise more Yaks. And raising more Yaks means generating more income. In the recent years Chauri farming has become a potent source of income among the local people of Mustang and Myagdi.

Now Chauri Mela has attracted domestic and foreign visitors alike. Some want to see this spine tingling Mela, while others want to drink fresh, hot blood of Yak. And this has been possible at Khopra village Myagdi and Marche Lake, Mustang, where this festival is held twice in a year.

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It is believed that Chauri (Yak) regularly eats rare herbs like Yarsagumba, Jatamasi, Nirmasi, Panchule and so on. The essence of such herbs is found in Yak’s blood. Hence, many people believe that Yak’s blood has medicinal properties which can cure some diseases like gastric, dysfunction of kidneys and liver related complications. Yak’s blood helps improving immune power of human body. Some people even claim that Yak’s blood can even cure impotency.

“I was suffering of gastric problem for the last one decade. I visited to several clinics and consumed lots of medicines, but I couldn’t get rid of gastric until I drunk Chaur’s blood last year. Now I lead a healthy life and I don’t have gastric problem at all”, said Ramesh Gauchan a hotel entrepreneur of Ghandruk.

Like Gauchan, nowadays more people show interest as well as curiosity in Chauri’s blood. Scores of people can be met at the Chauri Mela, who claim to have benefited from Cahuri’s blood. Their testimony is enough to believe that Chauri’s blood must contain some healing properties.

A man drinks glassful of Yak’s blood. sandrageul.com

The local people of Myagdi run two schools with the income of Chauri Mela. Income from Yak’s blood is the only regular source of income to run Himanchal Higher Secondary School and Paudar High school.

Along with income from Yak’s blood, Chauri Mela has provided an opportunity to the local people of Mustang and Myagdi who attend the bazaar with their produce to sell locally. The local people of these places bring handicraft items and several goods including Churpi and varieties of clothes made on handlooms and sell in the Chauri Mela.

Nature has also blessed Myagdi with rich wildlife and Majestic Mountains. The craggy hills and fabulous mountains can be observed from any vintage points. Myagdi is a paradise to trekkers and adventure lovers. “Over one dozen lofty Himalayas can be seen from the hills near Khopra, Myagdi. Rich stock of flora and fauna has made this place an important region for the tourists. Large varieties of colorful birds and rhododendron flowers can win any one’s hearts. But due to inadequate publicity, the region has been left in oblivion” grudges Thaman Tilija, a member of Chauri Mela Organizing Committee, Myagdi.

When asked if blood drained this way may have bad effect on Yak’s health. Rudra Bhadure Tilija, president of Chauri Mela Organizing Committee ((CMOC) denied all doubts and said: “A certain amount of blood can be drawn in a year. It is rather good for Yak’s health. If blood is not taken out on a regular interval, then Yaks will put on more fats that might cut short their lives”.

It may look barbaric as one of the major veins of the Yak is pierced and from which a stream of blood gushes out. However, those farmers who have been raising yaks for years dismiss any health hazards to Yaks.

Mahabir Pun, the winner of Ramon Magsaysay in 2007, is credited to initiate Chauri Mela in Myagdi. He brought Yaks from Mustang and Manang and laid the foundation of Chauri Festival with a bang.

Without doubt if Chauri Mela at Khopra Lake and Marche Lake is well organized, it can pull more visitors in days to come. Influx of tourists will certainly give more business to local people. This will definitely uplift their living standard. Moreover, the concept of village tourism can only be possible if such events are popularized in national and international level.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

LB Thapa is a travel blogger. He is also the author of six books. His books have been published by Nirala Publications, New Delhi, India and Himalayan Maphouse, Kathmandu, Nepal. His book, POKHARA AND ANNAPURNAS has been translated into seven foreign languages. LB Thapa’s books are also available on www.amazon.com

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