Where: Nepal, Timal People: Tamang Religion: Mainly Buddhism mixed with Hinduism, Animism and Shamanism Ritual: Ghewa
The Ghewa is an elaborate death feast which is supposed to be held somewhere between 7 and 49 days after the first ritual, where the deceased is being cremated. However, the Ghewas are almost always carried out in the dry season, since they usually take place in an empty field that has recently been harvested. The duration of a Ghewa can vary, depending on the religious and financial status of the family, but it usually lasts 2-3 days with extensive prayers and servings of food.
During the Ghewa, the Lamas are busy rescuing the dead souls/spirits and helping them achieve rebirth. If the soul of the deceased does not achieve a good rebirth, it is believed that the people responsible for the ritual are plagued with bad luck. It is up to the Lamas to ensure the safety of the living and the dead.
At the ritual all connection between the dead and the living are separated and the living no longer have to fear the wraith of the dead.
Within the Tamang society, the death rituals are considered to be the most important rituals, and earlier, the Ghewa was also a place for adolescents to meet and decide on marriage.
I am very grateful to Ramri and her family for allowing me to participate in the ceremonies and cremation. Additionally, I would like to thank my guide, translator, fixer and friend, Arun Karki, without whom this experience would not have been possible.