The people of Mustang

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Virtually all the people of Mustang are Buddhists, with a heritage linked to Tibet. Before the modern era, there were four traditional castes across Mustang. The royal castle, the common folk, the blacksmith, and the butcher/milling caste.

The common folk, including the farmers, laborers, messengers, and firewood gatherers, were all obliged to supply the rulers. These days, the old castesystem has virtually disintegrated and many people migrate to the lowlands for winter.

The staple diet of Mustang is tsampa, made from barley flour and mixed with butter tea. Other crops are buckwheat, wheat, and mustard. With frequent water shortages in Mustang, farmers need to plan their crops carefully each season.

Wheat is planted first since it takes so long to ripen at these altitudes. Pears are also grown and take four months to bring to harvest. Buckwheat follows, and here and there, mustard is cultivated.

Trekkers will want to savor the abundant apples across Mustang; whether in pies or pancakes, they are a great supplement to the normal diet.

In common with much of the high country across Nepal, young people are leaving for the cities and overseas to the Gulf and Malaysia. There is now a labor crisis during the harvest in most of the hills of Nepal.

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