Indigenous castes comprise one third of Nepal’s population and live mostly in the country’s mountainous regions. In the mountain towns of Nargokat, Dhulikel, and Namobuddha, Tamang, Gurung, Newari, Brahmin, Sherpa, and other castes intermingle in daily life but also keep their own distinct traditions. The faces of the majority of these tribes reflect east asian features while Newaris look more South Asian. Many of these tribes are Buddhist or have practices akin to shamanistic Tibetan Bön. Others are Hindus. Formerly known as a Hindu Kingdom, the parliamentary goverment declared Nepal as a secular republic in 2008. Still, approximately eighty percent of the population is noted as being Hindu.
While the challenges of life and daily survival are an ever-present reality, there was a softness to the people I met. Women walked with purpose on the streets, multi-tasking as mothers, gatherers, shopkeepers, and workers. They seemingly outnumbered the men who melted into the landscape tending to their fields and farms.
Those I photographed had time to stop and connect and offered their warmth and curiosity towards me. Sometimes a moment extended into hours with an appreciation of each other’s company shared over hot milk tea.