As for many indigenous people living around the world, the Sherpa people have comparatively little written history making it more complicated to trace their origin for some socio-political reason. However, the pre-history traces that the Sherpa people are one of the 17 ethnic groups native to the most mountainous regions of Nepal and the Himalayas. Sherpa is not only the surname of a family or last name it has one of the indigenous communities with its own rich culture, unique language, and different way of life predominantly living in the Eastern Himalayan region in east Asia. The terms Sherpa or sherwa derives from the Sherpa language Shyar (east) and Pa (people) which means “people of the east” which refer to their geographical origin of eastern Nepal. So they came over the mountains and they settled higher regions of the Himalayas. People believed that they moved from Tibet to Nepal five hundred years ago. They speak Tibetan dialect but it is different from the version of Tibetan language. The language that they speak is called Sherpa language. The Sherpa people speak Sherpa language as their mother tongue.
There are many references and interesting evidences prove that the Sherpa people were the first inhabitants of the Eastern Himalayan region in present Nepal before the territorial demarcation in East Asia into the nations. The carvings of religious texts on the huge rocks and stones; the long standing Mani wall and artful Stupas; old monasteries and the beautiful settlements with unique architecture; the name of every valleys and other places in Sherpa language; and the most importantly the old documents such as Lalmohar are sufficient and living proofs of Sherpa origin land. Most of the Sherpa people live in the eastern regions of Nepal, however, some live farther west in the Rolwaling Valley and in the Helambu region north of Kathmandu. Sherpa establish gompas (temples) where they practiced their religious traditions. Tengboche was the first celibate monastery in solu-khumbu. The history also reveals several cases of invasions on the smaller autonomous states within Nepal, and conflicts on border issues with Tibet, the autonomous region of People’s Republic of china before the demarcation. After the territorial demarcation, the main homeland of the Sherpa people was unified to Nepal and the Sherpa people are one of the nationalities of Nepal with its own defined territory and cultural Heritage.
The Sherpa Association of Nepal has estimated at least half a million Sherpa people around the world. The Sherpa people are migrating and spreading to different regions within Nepal and going abroad from their origin valleys in pursuit of better education and diverse economic opportunities. The population census data shows decreasing trend of Sherpa population in Nepal (CBS,2001; CBS,2011). The total population of Sherpa in 2001 was 154,622 and in 2011 population was 112,946 that decreased by 41676.
Men wear long-sleeved robes called kitycow, which fall to slightly below the knee. Chhuba is tied at the waist with a cloth sash called Kara, creating a pouch-like space called tolung which can be used for storing and carrying small items. Traditionally, chhuba were made from thick home –spun wool, or a variant called Lokpa made from sheep skin. Chuba ate worn over raatuk, a blouse (traditionally made out of bure, white raw silk), trouser called kanam, and an outer jacket called tetung.
Women traditionally wear long-sleeved floor-length of thick wool called tongkok; a sleeveless varation called angi is worn over raatuk (blouse) in warmer weather. These are worn with colorful striped aprons; ktil aprons are worn in front, and gewe in back, and are held together by an embossed silver buckle called Kyetile.
Increasing, home-spun wool and silk is being replaced by factory-made materials. Now, most of the Sherpa people also wear ready-made western clothing.
Sherpa people are Buddhist. Specially, they follow Tibetan Buddhism. If you can find yourself in the Everest Region, you can visit beautiful monasteries, admire the mini walls and listen to the sounds of "om mani padme hum playing."
Losar is a festival in Buddhism. The word Losar means "new year" in Buddhist religion. The losar festival celebrated on the first day of the lunisolar Sherpa calendar, which corresponds to a date in February or March in the Gregorian calendar. Families prepare for Losar some days in advance by throughly cleaning their homes; decorating with fragrant flowers. Debts are settled, quarrels are resolved, new clotes are acquired and special foods like kapse (fried twists) are made. Losar is celebrated for 15 days, with the main celebrations on the first three days. o the first day of Losar, a beverage called changkol is made from chhaang (tradition beer). The second day of Losar is known as king's Losar (gyalpo losar). Rest of days sherpa people used to go their relatives house to take the blessing from elders and to enjoy the quality time with their loved one. community will most commonly get together to celebrate their main festival Losar Sherpa.
There are limited economic opportunities in that mountain valley before 1950s.The Sherpa is also known as high altitude worker. Agriculture, animal husbandry, and trans- boundary trading were some of the life sustaining live hoods of the Sherpa people. The Sherpa people are known as most dangerous occupation in the world. Since early 1960s when those beautiful mountains and valleys were opened for outsider, Sherpa people also got opportunity to involve in mountaineering and trekking. Many Sherpa are highly regarded as elite mountaineers and experts in their local area. Today, the terms often used by foreigners to refers to almost any guide or climbing supporter hired for mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas, regardless of their ethnicity. Sherpa are renowned in the international climbing and mountaineering community for their hardiness, expertise and experience at very high altitudes. It has been speculated that part of the Sherpas' climbing ability is the result of a genetic adaptation to living in high altitudes. Most people will recognize the name Tenzing Norgay Sherpa who became famous as the first man to summit Everest besides Edmund Hillary. Pasang Lhamu Sherpa was the first female Sherpa to summit Everest which is the highest mountain in the world.
Traditional Himalaya Sherpa Food
1) Thukpa: It is tick noodles soup that has either meat or egg and vegetables. The noodle is more of dumplings. Its taste is often little spicy and very heartly. It's considered a winter delicacy in the Himalayas.
2) Alu Roti: It is a potato pancake. The pancake is made from potato, eggs and flour. Its often served to welcome guests. Usually, its served with a green onion sauce and some spicy chilli.
3) Thentuk: It is often called pulled noodles soup. Its similar to Thukpa however, the taste and noodles are different. Thentuk can best be compared to chicken noodle soup in America. However, you can order it with different meats and it has more vegetables.
4) Butter Tea: It is made with milk, salt and butter which is designed to keep you warm and help replenish your body after a long day of trekking. Sherpa people use to drink it more and more.