Name of NG Organization: Mustang Culture and Education Center

Location: Jomsom in Mustang district of Nepal



The Mustang Culture and Education Center (MCEC) has been founded by venerable Geshe Sonam Gyaltsen to realize his most important missions. Geshe Sonam was born in Pangling village in Mustang district in 1971. At the age of 9, he moved to Dolanji in Northern India and spent over 33 years learning Tibetan Bon philosophy, religion, culture, history and Bon ritual in Menri Monastery, the highest education center of Tibetan Bon community. After completing his Geshe degree, the highest academic qualification one can achieve in Tibetan monastery, he decided to return to his home in Mustang with intentions to re-establish his traditional culture and to promote high quality of education there.

            The MCEC center was registered at the District Administration Office of Mustang in Jomsom in summer 2012 and since then Geshe Sonam serve as the principle administrator of the Center. He will physically engage himself in all projects in order to revive Mustang Tibetan culture as well as to educate the younger generations. He has expressed his visions and dreams in a documentary film Bon: From Mustang to Menri by the film-maker Andrea Hackman and Rose Gordon. This documentary is about Geshe Sonam’s life and his mission in his home Pangling in Mustang.



Statement of the Problem:

Mustang in Nepal once enjoyed a thriving indigenous culture of Tibet. When the religion, culture and tradition of Tibet was greatly affected during the Cultural Revolution since late 1950s, its sister cultural areas on this side of the border in the Himalaya such as Mustang and Dolpo in Nepal are the only among the few surviving areas in which the old Tibetan tradition, culture and religion have survived intact. Recently, the existence and sustenance of old Tibetan culture in Mustang have been threatened by a complex series of influences from non-Tibetan culture and modernization. For an instance, exposure to modern Indian culture via television and film has had an erosive effect on local customs and dress, especially among the younger generation. Such exposure to diverse cultural groups has meant less likelihood of teaching children of the areas their mother language (i.e. Tibetan), teaching traditional medicine and maintaining their ancestral religious practices.

            Apart from that, scarcity of water has made local farming practices much more difficult. The unpredictability of irrigation has meant that land passed down for generations is being sold, and local farmers are leaving the area to find work elsewhere. In addition, traditional farming practices are giving way to modern machinery and are being forgotten which has resulted in a loss of ancient, sustainable farming practices. Therefore, it is becoming more and more urgent to preserve such a unique and endangering farming through documentation and archive project.

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