Culture & Religion in Lahaul & Spiti Valley

The languages spoken in the valley include Hindi, Bodh and Sanskrit. They are very similar to the Ladakhi and Tibetans culturally, as they had been placed under the rule of the Guge and Ladakh kingdoms at occasional intervals. The family acts as the basic unit of kinship among the local in Lahaul. The extended family system is commonly practiced and the family is headed by a senior male member, known as the Yunda, while his wife, known as the Yundamo, gains authority by being the oldest member in the generation.

Most locals here follow a combination of Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism of the Drukpa Kagyu order or Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelugpa order. Lahaul has a temple by the name of Trilokinath which is devoted to Lord Shiva. Raja Ghepan is one of the major deities who is widely worshipped by almost all of Lahaul. Before people adapted to Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism, they followed the religion ‘Lung Pe Chhoi’, which was derived from the Bön religion of Tibet.
The Losar festival (also known as Halda in the local language) is celebrated between the months of January and February every year and has the same significance as the Diwali but is celebrated in a Tibetan fashion. The date of celebration is decided by the Lamas.

The people of Lahaul and Spiti follow a mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism, with a culture that is profoundly impacted by Tibetan Buddhism. Once part of the Maharaja of Kashmir’s empire, Spiti was later exchanged for certain areas in Kangra district. Buddhism initially spread along the Spiti River, extending its influence up to Tibet. In the 10th century AD Rinchen Zangpo, the Great Translator travelled from Tibet across these lands during the rule of the Guge kings of Tibet. Under his tutelage, several important monasteries came up in Lahaul – Spiti, which still continue to follow a pure form of Tibetan Buddhism.

For more information:

About Lahaul and Spiti

History of Lahaul and Spiti Valley

How to get to Lahaul and Spiti Valley

Tourism in Lahaul & Spiti Valley

Festivals in Lahaul & Spiti Valley

Treks around the L & S Valley