Yak blood drinking festival

Yaks are grazing at the Sekong lake in the Kali Gandaki valley. While sitting there, a shephard approaches us. His name is Hom. He asks us for plasters, his hand was wounded by a yak. In the summer he will move his herd of 80 yaks to the grasslands 4000 m high under Daulaghiri Icefall, but first he will take animals to the yak blood drinking festival.

People believe in healing power of yak blood. They say it originates from yaks eating herbs in the high mountains. For the festival in April they put up tents and drink blood once daily for ten days. Hundreds of people come just for a day too. Like vampires they walk around with plastic glasses and bloody lips. In the evenings they sing and play cards.

It is a brutal act, pulling yaks one after another, holding them with bare hands and making holes in their necks to get fresh, hot blood. People pay 200 rupies for a glass. I have no wish to taste it. Luckily, yaks are released alive after a few glasses. With slow, exhausted walk they join the herd. Every day different owner brings the animals and earns money from the sold blood. Hom is happy, he made a good income today and he will take yaks back to the lake in the evening.

Text & photo: Uroš