And Here is to Tibetan Chang!

I have not been a fan of our traditional drink, Chang (fermented beer or wine. While we are on it, is Chang a wine or a beer?). As a child I would take a sip or two from the bowl that my parents used. They, too, stopped drinking eventually. These days, except for the possible exception of Losar (Tibetan) or a Wedding (when I am forced to partake of it) period when I may consume some Changkhoe, I do not interact with it.

But Chang came to my mind as I was thinking about the Tibetan people’s exposure to the outside world and how this has impacted our lifestyle. During weddings in the Tibetan settlement in India, I have seen people starting to bring a case of beer instead of a tin of chang now.

I have nothing against Chang, though. The drink has been part and parcel of the Tibetan way of life, finding a place in many traditional songs or even modernized ones, as in the case of a song by the rock band Namchak (Vajara) based in Lhasa.

Who said Chang was not good? For those of you who think it is a bad habit, you may want to visit the website of the Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute, which touts Chang as a treatment for indigestion.

Unintentionally, the chang name has gone global, too. There is a beer by the name of Chang Beer that is produced in Thailand. I say unintentionally because the word “chang” here seems to be the Thai word for Elephant.

In Lhasa, there seems to be some modern-style breweries that produce chang for commercial sale. Now is the time for some Chang-kho Cola! eh!


2 thoughts on “And Here is to Tibetan Chang!

  1. Once a monk was hijacked by a wicked witch. She said to the monk either you sleep with me or kill the goat or drink a jar of chang. He thought he can’t sleep with the witch as that would breach his vow of celibacy. He can’t even imagine himself killing a goat. He thought drinking the jar of chang is easiest and least evil. So he agreed to drink the jar of chang. By the time, he sipped the last drop of chang, he was totally intoxicated. Out of his mind, he killed the goat and slept with the witch. Thus the saying Chang is the root of all evils.

  2. The Tibetan word for ‘Wedding Reception’ is ‘Changsa’ which when literally translated means ‘drinking chang gathering’.

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