19th Feb. 2018
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Nepalese People  
Nepal is a multi-ethnic society with more than 40 types of different races, tribes, & ethnicity constituting a population of more than 26 millions. According to a prominent Nepali sociologist Dipesh Adhikari, Nepal is a land of refugees. Dr. Stephen Bezruchka in his seminal travel book Trekking in Nepal also agrees that Nepal’s terrain was, “settled by peoples fleeing invaders from all directions” (p140). Nepal’s remote & inaccessible landscape has offered shelter to the victims of invasions & social turmoil not only from India in the south, & China & Tibet in the north, but from Bhutan & Burma as well. Thus people in Nepal can be variously categorized according to altitude, religion, and ethnicity.

The Hindus and Muslims on the low land Terai & Mid Hills are of Indo-Aryan origin, and the people living in the high Himalayas descend from the Tibet-Burmese & Mongol ancestors. The people of Indian & Tibetan origin are considered to be relatively new arrivals. The Mongol people living in mid Hills who have adapted to their environment through generations since ancient times are called the janajatis or ethnic people of Nepal.

The Hindus constitute the famous four caste people, but they take somewhat different names & forms in Nepal than India. These people carry a surname according their profession. Although Buddhists do not have systematic caste systems, some Buddhist Newars of Kathmandu have been carrying their surnames like Bajracharya, Gurubacharya, Tamrakar, Tuladhar which denoted their professions during medieval Nepal.

Some Major types of People found in Nepal:

Although their concentration varies, the Brahmins, Chetris, & Newars are the found everywhere in Nepal. The people of other castes & tribes sometimes make fun of these three castes by calling them the “mobile castes”.

Brahmins (or Bahun in Nepali): These are the uppermost caste in the Hindu hierarchical caste system. Brahmins are of Aryan descent and found all over Nepal except in the upper Himalayas. Brahmins are mostly teachers, priests, & government officials.

Chetris: The Hindu people of the warrior Aryan caste. The Shah Kings, the Ranas, & the high-profile army postions are still occupied by the Chetris in Nepal.

Newars: The ethnic people from the Kathmandu valley. The Newars have their own physical characteristics, system of language & rituals. Newars are mostly business people and artisans. Most are the Hindus, but some are also Buddhist by generations.

Sherpas: Shrepa people are the original inhabitants of the Nepal’s side of Himalaya – different from Tibetans. The Sherpas are world famous for their mountaineering skills. However, the word Sherpa denotes an indigenous Himalayan community for the Nepalis, unlike what some travel writers refers to them as ‘porters’.

Magar, Gurung, Tamang, Rai, Limbu: These are the original inhabitants of mountain region. Although comparatively than Europeans, these ethnic people constitute most of the soldiers in Nepal Army, and the British & Indian Gurkha Army.

Madhesis: The people of the Terai regions constituting both Hindus & Muslims of Aryan descent. Some (but not all) of these people have their relations on both sides of the Indo-Nepal border. The Madhesi people constitute more than 40% of the Nepali population.

Tharu, Rajbansi, Danuwar, Majhi: These people consider themselves to be original inhabitants of the Terai.

Manangi & Dolpo: These are tribal people living in the isolated pockets in the valleys beyond Himalaya but inside Nepal.

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