Last week we had the great opportunity to attend the conference by the International Association for Ladakh Studies in Bedlewo, Poland.
The International Association for Ladakh Studies (IALS) has the purpose to connect researchers and everyone who is interested in the subject of Ladakh Studies. This way people from all around the world can exchange their observations and experiences and give ideas of how to support the communities in Ladakh.
For us it was such an enriching experience, because we could learn so many new things about the beautiful land of the Himalayas, a place full of historical and cultural treasures.
The program of the conference included a wide variety of topics based on the region of Ladakh. Discussions around the early history of vehicles and roads, examination of the nomadic lifestyle with a reference to the different religious and cultural understanding of the local people as well as an overview of the current state of the society.
We also had the pleasure to contribute to the conference, by sharing our own observations on the nomadic urban migration and the nomadic way of life by the example of Kharnak and Kharnakling.
We emphasized the significance of the nomadic lifestyle and the skills of the Kharnak people such as animal husbandry, weaving, spinning and mending, using the raw materials around them to make new things, in harmony with their surroundings.
However, we also tackled some problems such as the lack of education and the difficulties with fodder for the animals and the missing medical facilities, which unfortunately result in demographic aging.
Many young people are feeling overwhelmed and tend to move to the city of Leh, the biggest city in Ladakh.
Although we already support the local people by investing in their economy and encouraging them to create their unique craftwork, we were happy to hear further suggestions of how to improve the living conditions in Kharnak and apply innovative activities in the nomadic settlement of Kharnakling. We consider giving equal education opportunities such as classes both in regular subjects such as math and science, as well as tuitions in weaving and spinning would be a great start.
The time spend at the Ladakh conference was great experience for many reasons. But probably the most valuable one was to be around like-minded people, who see the significance of KAL’s philosophy and are ready to support it. We definitely want to preserve the beauty of the handmade weaving and encourage the nomadic lifestyle and animal husbandry on a broader level.
The interesting speeches and conversations in Bedlewo also brought back a lot of memories from our time there, so that we cannot wait to make our way to Kharnak and Kharnakling in July.
Down below you will find a link to the website and the Facebook-page of the Ladakh Studies as well as a previous post from us, where you can learn more about Kharnak. We are also adding a paper of Pascale Dollfus. Pascale is a French researcher and has been working in Kharnak for over 17 years and has written profound books and papers about the community of Kharnak.
We are also happy to hear some suggestions of how we can promote the nomadic lifestyle furthermore and how we can support the local people of Ladakh in future.