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Janajati

Barhamu or Baramu

Baramu peoples are known as aboriginal inhabitants of mid-hill regions of Nepal. Today they are found mostly in Gorkha and Tanahun. They are also found in Dhading, Makwanpur and Lalitpur districts. Their popular myth of origin connects them with Sunuwars, Surel, Jirel, Rais and Limbus, other indigenous nationalities of eastern Nepal. They also had Kipat land, communal land tenure system in the past. They have their own language that belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family. Though much destroyed due to interferences of powerful Hindu high caste neighbours, they still retain some distinct cultural traits. They are animists, but they are coerced to state Hinduism as their religion. Their social and religious practices resemble with those of Magars. Many Baramos trace their language and culture to Burma (Myanmar) and the Burmese. They are mostly engaged in farming. There are very few educated people among them. some of their children have started to attend schools, but failure and dropout rates are very high. Ninty percent of them are landless and have no other source of subsistence, except occassional wage labour. According to 2001 census, their population is 7,383. Baramos are believed as an endangered indigenous people.

Baram (or Baramu) is one of the indigenous minority nationalities scattered in different villages in the districts of Gorkha, Tanahu, Dhading, Lalitpur, Makwanpur and Nawalparasi. They, according to their mythology, call themselves offsprings of what they call five brothers: Surel, Sunuwar, Jirel, Rai (Khambu) and Limbu, and claim to have scattered to the west from the east (Gautam and Thapa Magar, 1994:27-28). They believe that they are the successors of ancient Kiratas. They claim that they had heard of their ancestors owning Kipat land of their own. Their population, according to the census of 2001, is 7,383.

Barams have their own mother tongue called Balkura. This language belongs to the Tibeto- Burman family of languages and is similar to the Magar language to a great extent (Rana, 2000). This language is in an endangered state. Although influenced by Hindu religion and culture, they have their own original culture and they are, in fact, animists or worshippers of nature. They christen their newborn on the fifth or eleventh day. Their relatives perform the christening ceremony. While performing Chewar (the ceremony of first haircut), the maternal uncle cuts the hair of his nephew in accordance with a special process. Marriage is done either with mutual consent or by arrangement. While asking for a girl, the boy's side offers a surkepung (a certain quality of spirit in a wooden pot called chauntho). If it is accepted, the next process of bringing thekipung starts. In this process the boy's side should bring roti (bread), rooster, some money in the form of gift, a basketful of fish, etc except spirit. In the actual marriage ceremony, when the bridegroom enters the house of the bride's parents, he slaughters a cock at the main gate. And the remaining processes are completed thereafter. While returning home afterwards the same ritual of slaughtering cock at the main gate is repeated. The bridegroom is asked to step over the slaughtered cock to enter the house and the remaining procedures follow (Gorkha Baram Association, BS2056). Cross-cousin marriage among Barams is equally acceptable. Many of their practices are similar to those of the Magars. Presence of jwain (husband of daughter or sister) is compulsory in funeral performances. They cleanse themselves of funeral pollution through the relatives.

Barams worship their family gods, Chandi, Bhume, forest gods and goddesses. They make use of dhamis and jhakris to perform worship rituals and to treat illnesses. They are basically farmers and they practise animal husbandry besides agriculture. They are very good at carpentry and masonry. Since agriculture and animal husbandry may not be sufficient for their subsistence they resort to daily wage work to earn their living.

Contact Address:
Nepal Baram Association
Central Committee, Kathmandu
Phone No. 977-1-4215016
E-mail: nepal-baram@yahoo.com

Contact:
Mr. Man Bahadur Baram : President
E-mail: npbaramsangh@yahoo.com
Mobile.: 9841 570943

Mr. Jagat Bahadur Baram: Secretary
E-mail: dengaathung@yahoo.com
Mobile: 9841 541861

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