Wednesday, 14 March 2018


Country Nepal (The Limbu community)

The Nepali community is composed of different sub-cultural stocks with considerable differences in physical characteristic and customs. Each tribe is sub-divided into many classes. the most important of these tribes are: Limbu, Magar, Rai, Gurung, Tamang, Mewar etc.
  The immigration of the Nepalese and their rapid expansion has created a serious problem for the original inhabitants the Lepchas and bhutias. The Nepalese are not only multiplying more rapidly in numbers but are also ahead in education which enables them to go jobs in government. While the Lepchas and Bhutias still prefer the traditional education in the monasteries, the Nepalese end their children to schools. the Lepchas and Bhutias  are averse to cultivate waste lands. Nepalese plant maize which grows in abundance and is their staple food. The Nepalese children work from the age of five and when they are ten years of age are able to earn more than they consume.
   Their style of living is comparatively much economical. Their dress and diet are simple. They do not spend much money on marriage and festival. on the other hand, tyhe Lepchas and Bhutias take rice with meat, if possible. Their dress is expensive. Above all , they have to support the monks, according to the religious custom, make occasional offerings, either in kind or cash to the 'gompa' and then pay a high fee to the priests for the various services rendered by them.
    Limbu is a branch of Kirati tribe. They have a tradition of inter marriage with other tribes particularly with the Lepchas and in certain respects their habits are similar to those of the Lepchas. They have also matrimonial relation with rai or Khambas. the Limbus call themselves yakthamba. one of the branches came via Lhasa and is called the Lhasa gotra, while the other branch which came from Benaras is called the Kashi gotra. The Limbu have their own priests, they are known as 'Phedangba'.
         The original name of Limbu is Yakthung, Yakthumba or Yakthungba for males and Limbu females are called "Yakthumma" or "Yakthungma". In anciant texts belive that "Yakthung" or "Yakthum" is derivative of Yaksha and some interpret its meaning as the "Yaksha winner". In Limbu language it means " heroes of the hills" which connotation with ancient Kiratas. The name Limbu or Limboo is given by Nepal shah king for the first time after 1774 A.D. Subba is also a title given by the shah Kings to Limbu village chiefs. Limbu and Subba was not an indigenous Yakthung terminology, but now they are almost interchangeable terms.
There are hundreds of Limbu Clans and Tribes. each Limbu clans are classified under their Tribe or sub national entity or according to their place of origin.
     Their estimated population of 700,000 is mainly centered in the district of Sankhuwasabha, Tehrathum, Dhankuta, Taplejung, Morang, Sunsari, Jhapa, Panchthar, Ilam, Kathmandu, Nakhipot, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur in Nepal, these are all within the Mechi and kosi zones or "Limbuwan". Portions of thge Limbu population are also located in the east and west district of Sikkim.
        Limbu practice many of their own life cycle rituals. They believe that
lineage is not transmitted partrilineary. Rather, a women inherits her mothers gods, and when she marries and lives with her husband she brings with her the deties that will then be recognized as the household deities.
    Limbu bury their dead and observe for two-to-three days through practiced death rituals. During days through practiced death rituals. During death ceremony, they put the head of dead in chares ko thal and coin on forehead. They block nose, ear and put alcohol on the lips of the dead body. Nikwasamma is a dead ritual done to cleanse the house by Phedangma. Relatives, neighbours and visitors bring money as respect and put offering on the top of the dead body. Sons of dead body shave head and eyebrows to respect the body of the dead. They will be known as the new hier in the family. They buried the dead body covered with white cloth in wooden box. The length of the mourning period varies depending on the gender of the deceased. Weddings, mourning, gift exchanges, and settlement of conflicts involve consumption of alcohol i.e. liquor, especially the Limbu traditional beer popularly known as thee which is also drunk in a container called Tongba. Dancing parties are arranged for visitors to the village. These affairs give the young Limbu girls and boys a chance to meet and enjoy dancing and drinking.
The traditional dress of the Limbus are mekhli and taga.
While performing mangsewa. Yakthung  people wear mekhli and taga in white colour as it symbolizes purity.
Dhaka is the traditional fabric of the Limbus which are made by weaving it in geometric patterns in a handloom. The art of making dhaka is taught by one generation to another. You will always see a Limbu man clad in dhaka topi (hat) and scarf, and a Limbu lady in dhaka saree, mekhli, blouse and shawl.
In the olden days, the Limbus were skilled in silk farming. The Kiratis were also known as silk traders. According to JB Subba and Iman Xin Chemjong, the Kirat is a corrupt form of kereta, silkworm.
The Limbus traditionally practiced subsistence farming. Rice and maize comprised their principal crops. Although there is an abundance of arable land, productivity is greatly limited by insufficient technology. Excess crops are often traded for food that cannot be grown in the region.
A sizable number of Limbu youths are enlisted in the Nepalese army, British and Indian Gurkha regiments.

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