NOMADS RETURNING HOME
The beginning of autumn is marked with grass turning a subtler shade of green that makes its way to yellow. Insects become larger and louder, blue flowers take over, and berries give a touch of red to the fading pasture. By mid-October, the oats harvest, used as winter feed for the animals is complete, and it is time to move the sheep and yak to winter pasture, closer to home. For the animals, it is a time for gorging. The autumn pasture is nearing depletion and make a rush for the harvested fields at Dorakhang, in the valley that leads into the village, where, for three days, the area is overcome by over twenty thousand yak and sheep. Once the animals have settled into their winter pasture, close to the nomad’s winter homes, the nomads go about securing blessings to protect their animals and families from the harsh winter. Men representing the village clans borrow a complete set of the Kangyur, 108 volumes of the Buddha’s teachings, from the monastery, tie two to three to their backs and circle the winter pastures on horse, including the sacred Amney Tongra mountain in their path. The circumambulation complete, they return to the monastery and deliver the volumes, all set to begin winter life.
Life is now centered in the winter home, the women busying around the stove that warms the main room. The area is dominated by the khang, the heated platform where people sit, receive their guests, swap stories and at night, lie down to sleep. It is covered in felt mats to protect one from overheating, and in this cozy place, families gather and exchange, cook and catch up. The animals are nearby, and the oats are there to fill their needs. Humans can now relax, tell stories, eat and see the new year and all it brings.