A Nepalese Festival for Prosperity and Good Harvest


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Nyima Tsering Gurung drinks chyang, a local beer made from barley, during the Dhajyang festival in Khinga, a village in Nepal’s northwestern Mustang region. The festival’s name refers to archery and beer, two key elements of the celebration. Shilu Manandhar, GPJ Nepal

In Nepal’s Mustang region, the conclusion of cultivation work is met with a celebration that features archery and locally made beer. The festival, called Dhajyang, is a joyful expression of gratitude and hope for a favorable future.

KHINGA, NEPAL — When this village celebrates the Dhajyang festival each spring, the name is taken literally. “Dha” means arrow and “jyang,” also called “chyang,” refers to local beer.

Just after seeds are sown in local fields and cultivation work is over for the season, the men gather for an archery competition. Village elders reward winners with blessed leaves and branches, which are brought to the presentation by married women dressed in traditional attire. The women also bring beer, which is enjoyed as the men play instruments.

There is singing and dancing and prayers for prosperity, good health, long life and a good harvest.

“Even the songs that we sing are prayers for prosperity and good health,” says Tsewang Norbu Gurung, 30, who is the village’s “ghenpa,” the chief for the year.

It takes three days to prepare for the festival. Married women make the beer and pray in temples and monasteries, returning with leaves and branches to adorn the winners of the archery competition.

When the competition begins, one target is set to the east and another to the west.

“When the arrow hits the target in the east we believe that the good spirit’s powers are strengthened and the community will be protected by good spirits,” Gurung says. “And when the arrow hits the target in the west we believe that we have victory over bad spirits.”

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Myebar Gurung plays a drum while singing and dancing during the Dhajyang festival.

Shilu Manandhar, GPJ Nepal

Married women dance and sing while carrying blessed leaves, branches and the local beer. The women dress in traditional attire for the festival.

Shilu Manandhar, GPJ Nepal

The community priest and village elders watch the Dhajyang festival’s archery tournament.

Shilu Manandhar, GPJ Nepal

Tsewang Norbu Gurung (left), the village chief, and other men from the village participate in the archery tournament. Targets are set to the east and west, and both have spiritual symbolism.

Shilu Manandhar, GPJ Nepal

Tashi Gurung (right) receives blessings from a village elder after hitting a bullseye during the tournament. Blessed leaves and branches are often used to adorn the tournament’s winners.

Shilu Manandhar, GPJ Nepal

Serkyini Gurung (left) laughs with the men while she serves them locally made beer.

Shilu Manandhar, GPJ Nepal

Tsering Gurung, 4, (right) plays with a bow and arrow with Druk Tsering Gurung, 5, (center) and Tenzin Gurung, 5, by imitating their elders. After school, the children join the elders at the festival ground.

Shilu Manandhar, GPJ Nepal

Women laugh as they wait to serve beer to the men.

Shilu Manandhar, GPJ Nepal

Takla Gurung (left) and Wangyal Gurung drink beer, a key element of the Dhajyang festival.

Shilu Manandhar, GPJ Nepal


EDITOR’S NOTE: No sources in the story are immediately related. The Gurung surname is a common caste name in this village.

Shilu Manandhar, GPJ, translated the interviews from Nepali.