Himalayan honey-A part of the livelihood of mountain families in Lamjung


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During early civilization, groups of families and tribes frequently migrated in search of better locations with adequate resources and suitable environments to settle. Similarly, many years ago, tribes of Gurung and Ghale people departed from Tibet and embarked on a journey in pursuit of such a place.

Deliberately, they chose to settle in the mid-hills of Nepal, specifically in regions such as Lamjung, Manang, Syanja, and Gorkha, among others. As time passed, these indigenous natives from various parts of Nepal gradually came together and began living collectively in these areas.

In their quest to survive and sustain life, these communities relied on the abundant food sources found in the forest and the freshwater from rivers.

Local Women Enjoying her DalBhat at her Kitchen in Lamjung

One fateful day, as they ventured into the lush jungles in search of sustenance, they stumbled upon the mad honey hives nestled atop the cliffs of the Himalayas, formed by a Natural bee-keeping process. Little did they realize that this sweet delicacy would soon become an indispensable part of their livelihood, ushering in waves of joy, fostering togetherness, and elevating their way of life to new heights.

The discovery of mad honey gave rise to a tradition known as honey hunting, wherein a group of tribes engages in this activity annually. Meanwhile, other villagers eagerly anticipate the most awaited event of the year. It serves as an opportunity for men to demonstrate their courage as they climb the ladders to access cliff honey and harvest the prized mad honey.

Navigating along narrow paths with slippery surfaces and cliffs, the honey hunters press forward, embarking on a lengthy and intricate journey to reach the honey bees’ habitat. Despite the challenges, these hunters, with big smiles and joy, adeptly overcome obstacles like seasoned masters, sharing their wealth of past experiences with newcomers along the way.

The acquisition of Cliff Honey has not only brought economic benefits to the villagers but has also fostered emotional bonds among them. In ancient times, honey-hunting events served as vibrant gatherings where young men and women came together, fostering connections and relationships as they got to know one another amidst the exhilarating pursuit of this prized delicacy.

Transferring Mad honey from the Container after harvesting

Even in modern times, communities continue to engage in social gatherings, interactions, religious ceremonies, and rituals centered around mad honey harvesting. These gatherings provide locals with opportunities to meet and converse with fellow villagers, share moments of laughter and sorrow, and resolve disputes and misunderstandings.

The honey hunters of Nepal hold this tradition in high esteem, considering it not just a mere process of obtaining honey but rather a significant event for spiritual and social occasions.

The preparation for mad honey harvesting begins three months before the actual hunt, during which villagers gather to make plans and decisions regarding task allocation, as well as determining the optimal hunting date and time. The entire process is imbued with a sense of celebration and camaraderie, reflecting the deep cultural significance of this cherished tradition.

Local from Lamjung Transfer honey after harvesting

Before embarking on the mad honey harvesting expedition, the cliffs are inspected, and the handmade equipment is carefully checked and repaired as needed. With limited access to modern equipment, the hunters rely on tools crafted from locally available resources such as bamboo, sticks, knives, ropes, and more. Despite the availability of modern alternatives, they find solace in utilizing these ancient tools, as they are intimately familiar with their functionality and reliability.

For the hunters, these traditional tools hold immense significance, almost akin to divine entities, as they have served as indispensable means of survival for generations. This deep connection to their tools reflects not only their resourcefulness but also their profound respect for the traditions and techniques passed down through their cultural heritage.

An auspicious day is selected by the pujari (priest) for honey hunting. On this particular day, the pujari recites prayers and offers flowers, fruits, and sacrifices of sheep, goats, and chickens to ensure a safe and successful harvest. The ideal time for hunting is either in the mornings or evenings, with Tuesday considered the most auspicious day.

According to the spiritual beliefs of the tribes, women are not permitted to be near the cliff during honey hunting. However, they are allowed to observe the activity from a distance. Additionally, if a honey hunter’s wife or any other female member of their family is menstruating or pregnant, the hunter is disqualified from participating in the hunting activity.

While mad honey serves as a significant source of income for the Gurung tribes, they are also engaged in various other activities to sustain their livelihoods. Agriculture and animal husbandry are the primary occupations, with farming being a predominant activity.

Additionally, livestock and poultry farming are integral household activities aimed at achieving self-sufficiency and economic security for the community. These diverse endeavors contribute to the overall resilience and prosperity of the Gurung tribes beyond the realm of honey hunting. When you are buying mad honey, you are indirectly making a contribution to these families in Lamjung.

Furthermore, the increasing accessibility to the region and the rising recognition of its natural beauty, coupled with the renowned bravery of the local tribes, have transformed it into a notable attraction for foreigners. Tourists visiting the Himalayas often opt to stay in homestays with villagers, immersing themselves in rural life, savoring organic cuisine, and relishing the warm hospitality. This trend has created a market for local products, as visitors eagerly seek authentic experiences and souvenirs.

The widespread desire to witness the honey-hunting tradition and embrace the pristine environment has significantly bolstered the economic standing of the tribes inhabiting the area. Consequently, tourism has emerged as a pivotal driver of economic growth and sustainability for these communities, while simultaneously fostering cultural exchange and appreciation.

Despite their current successes, honey hunters maintain a vision for the future, aspiring to enhance their prospects in honey hunting. Their dreams encompass various goals, including the expansion of bee colonies and the implementation of improved forest management practices.

Additionally, they yearn for strengthened unity and cooperation within their community, drawing inspiration from the harmonious synergy observed among bees. This collective vision reflects their commitment to furthering the sustainability and prosperity of honey hunting traditions for generations to come. 


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