Chheskam is one of the most remote of our partner communities, nestled at the source of the sacred Hunga river. The residents of Chheskam are primarily from the Kulung Kirant ethnic group who traditionally maintain an exceptionally strong connection to the natural world through spirit mediums and shamans.
At dZi, we understand that cultural preservation is an important foundation for social unity and overall happiness. This is one of seven ‘prosperity elements’ that we measure to understand how well our projects are benefiting the community members.
The dense wood in the photo below is just on the outskirts of the main settlement in Chheskam, and it is managed as a complete wilderness – people and livestock are not allowed to enter. It is believed this is the home of a powerful forest deity, the disturbing of whom will bring misfortune to the entire village.
Many Kulung traditions require the use of cloth woven from a plant called allo (wild nettle), and there are still a number of active looms in the village. The village elder Amrit Kulung is one of the local cultural icons and a weaver himself.
“During my childhood days, we didn’t have many warm clothes to protect us from cold. So we wove. Now, I weave to try to protect the culture. My children send me these fancy jackets from city, I wear them but they hesitate to wear handwoven garments. They, the young generation, do not understand why weaving is important. So it is more important that I weave, and keep record to inspire them” says Amrit when asked why he continues to weaves.
Now, much of Amrit’s allo fabric is exported across Nepal and fetches a high price. It is renowned for it’s durability and uniqueness. Amrit continues to inspire a whole new generation of Chheskam and our team.