The continuation of a culture depends on retaining and sustaining its cultural heritage. Many cultures across the world are in decline and many more have been completely lost. The Tamang people in Nepal make up the largest Buddhist minority with over 5 million people. However, like many other cultures under threat, they have no written language. And as happened with so many other cultures, their traditions and customs will possibly be lost unless action is taken to preserve them.
With the drift of younger people to the city and overseas there is the treat of a discontinuity and loss of customs and spiritual beliefs throughout all the ethnic groups in Nepal. For the Tamang people in particular, their culture and customs are very much tied up with their Buddhist heritage.
The Oral Archives Project has been designed and is being implemented to preserve the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Tamang people. The stories of the older generation in villages across Nepal are now being told and recorded. This not only provides a cultural identity for the younger members of the community but also provides an avenue to preserve and foster their spiritual heritage.
Volunteers are going into villages with audio and video recorders to record the stories and customs of their people. They are asked to tell their story about their lives and share their experiences and opinions. They are very happy to talk especially when they know it is preserve the culture for the next generation.
So far the people in the Kavre District, Nuwakort and in the Kathmandu Valley, especially around Boudhanath Stupa and Swayambu Stupa have all made valuable contributions to this project. It is envisioned in the future that more volunteers and BAC branch supporters will receive recorders to use in their villages. Once the recordings have been made and collected they will be catalogued and stored in the Tamang Cultural Centre in Boudhanath. They will then be made available for those doing research, or for educational purposes.