Tibetan Diet Taboos
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Tibetan Diet Taboos

Update: Mar. 24th, 2013

Tibetan Diet Taboos

There is a series of taboos in meat-eating for Tibetans. Generally, the Tibetans only eat mutton and beef. They would never take the meat of the horse, donkey, dog or mule as their food. Some of the devout Tibetans even never eat chicken, pork or eggs. The local Tibetans never eat the fresh mutton or beef since they hold that the soul of animals would not leave the body till the next day. The local Tibetans would never hunt the birds or the pheasants which are highly respected as holy birds.

Tibetan Diet Taboos – Fish Taboo in Different Regions in Tibet

The fish taboo in Tibet varies in regions. Tibetans in eastern Tibet never eat fish and they would not even touch the snake or frog. They hold that the fish and the frog are the pets of the Dragon Lord and people might suffer diseases if you touch or hurt them. Generally, people think there is close relationship between the fish taboo and the Buddhism regulations. Actually, the fish taboo has been an ancient tradition for Tibetans in eastern Tibet. The noted Kano Site in Qamdo Prefecture is quite close to the Lantsang River which is rich in fish resources. But no fishhook, fish sign or some other fishing tools were discovered according to the current research. Hence, the archeologists inferred that Tibetans living in this region had a fish taboo since ancient times. The fish taboo was enhanced after the Tibetan Buddhism spread to this area and the local habitants don't eat fish till today.

But there is no strict fish taboo in Yarlung Zangbo River Basin and the Three Rivers (Jinsha River, Lantsang River and Nu River) Basin in eastern Tibet. Fishing tools and fishbone were discovered at the Neolithic Age Relic by Lhasa River – the largest tributary of Yarlung Zangbo River. The ancient fishing tools were also discovered at the ruins in Niyang River Basin. These unearthed ancient fishing tools and fishbone indicate that the ancient Tibetans lived in Yarlung Zangbo River Basin were involved in fishing activities and they did take the fish as their food.

Tibetan Diet Taboos – Garlic Taboo

There is strict garlic taboo for most of the Tibetans. As a common condiment, the garlic would only be adopted on the ordinary days rather than the important religious days. The local Tibetans would never take any garlic if they are planning to worship the Buddha or make kora around the holy mountains, such as Mt. Kailash. Tibetans hold that the smell of the garlic might stain the holy place and it would be a great disrespect to the Buddha. Some of the Tibetans hold that once you eat the garlic you are not suitable to go to the monastery or some other holy places in 3-7 days. Hence, some of the devout religious followers don't eat the garlic at all since it takes too much time to eliminate the smell of the garlic.

Besides, the Tibetans hold in awe and veneration for the kitchen. They think that the Kitchen Lord is located in the fireplace in the kitchen. Tibetans would never throw any rubbish or some dirty things in the fireplace. It is also a taboo to roast the meat above the fireplace directly.

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