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The Brokpa People - Vegans for Thousands of Years

2021-07-21
Lingua:English
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The Brokpa are a unique indigenous community mostly living in the Ladakh area of India. They are also known as the Brogpa or Drogpa. They refer to themselves as Minaro, which means “Aryan.” The term Aryan in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit translates as “distinguished” or “noble” and historically refers to a light-skinned people who spoke an Indo-European language. They entered ancient India and influenced the culture, literature and religion of the locals.

One school of thought on their origin posits that the Brokpa people may be descendants of troops that were left behind by Alexander the Great. It has been noted that the Brokpa folk songs describe their migration route that ties in with this theory, and Alexander the Great is believed to have left his troops in Dardistan or modern-day Pakistan.

For somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 years, the Brokpa maintained a strict vegan diet, meaning they excluded animal products including meat, eggs, and dairy. This age-old way of eating is tied to their traditional spiritual beliefs that the world is divided into three different spheres, including a realm of gods, a realm of people and a lower realm consisting of water spirits. The Brokpa belief is that these worlds are connected by a tree that makes communication between them possible. In order to link with the realm of the gods, there is an emphasis on purity.

Brokpa women are respected and honored. This is because women have the power of producing life and carrying on the bloodline of the community. As a result of this, they enjoy freedom and mutual respect within their families and villages. During the Bono-na festival, the women dress up in their finest clothing and walk around slowly in a circle performing a courtship dance, at the same time singing folk songs, and calling out to the men to join them. The women also propose marriage.

A distinguishing feature of the Brokpa is their love of flowers. The colorful headgear called “tepi” has numerous decorations attached and is adorned with vibrant flowers. Wearing tepi is considered a way to repel evil influences. The women also wear gold, silver, and other metal jewelry, which are not only decorative but also are believed to have protective qualities. The community members also rely on herbal medicine in order to cure their sick.

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