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संघीय प्रणाली प्रारुपका सवालहरुFederalism Issues in Designing a Federal System by Jill Cottrell in Nepali language Read more

Janajati

Chepang

One of the most backward indigenous nationalities of Nepal, the Chepangs inhabit in the remote and sparse contours, outback and rolling precipices of the districts of Makwanpur, Chitwan, Gorkha and Dhading. They claim that they belong to Kirati group of people. They have their own distinct language, which belongs to one of the Tibeto-Burman strains. Like the Kusundas, the Chepangs are mostly hunters and gatherers. Their subsistence economy is based on forest resources. They are emerging as horticulturists also. Being landless, 95 percent of them forage for tubers and for food. Today it is stated that they became landless mostly due to lack of documentary evidences to claim land ownership. They also had a system of kipat, communal ownership of land till the first half of the 19th century. They are animists and their clan priests are called Pandes. It is felt that their religion and culture are influenced by the Tamangs. Less then 15 percent Chepangs are literates and almost 90 percent of them are leading life under utter poverty. These days, there are some projects run for chepangs, but are not becoming really effective so far. School enrollment ratio of school going children is still very low and drop out rate is very high. The census 2001 has revealed that the population of Chepand is 52,237.

ImageChepangs, who live in the central regions of Nepal, are also known as Chyobang or Chewang. Under the Chepang Development Programme, they are also known as Praja. In their language, che means dog and pang means arrow (Dhungel, 2051). Because they are primarily hunters and they hunt with the help of dogs and bow and arrows, they are known as Chepang. Also, as chyo means the top of a hill and wang means stone in the language of the Chepangs, it implies that those living in hills and in caves full of stones have come to be known as Chyobang. According to a legend of the Chepangs, the Chepangs are said to be the child of a queen, who gave birth to her child on a stone and disappeared after leaving the child there (Praja, BS2056).

The abode of Chepang in prehistoric times was Sunathali of Dolkha district. At present, the Chepangs are found in Makawanpur, Chitwan, Gorkha and Dhading districts. A few families of Chepangs have also settled in the plains of Bara and Parsa districts. The population of Chepang in the census of 1991 was about 36,000, it is 52,237 in the 2001 census.

The Chepangs have their own language, which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family. According to Schafer and Toba, the Chepang language is close to the languages of Thami and Hayu (Dhungel, BS2051: 42). The naming ceremony among the Chepangs takes place nine days after the birth of the child. During the ceremony the Chepang shaman (Pande) reads sacred texts over a cock, a hen, thread coloured with turmeric, thin roti (bread) made of maize flour, totala flower, egg, etc and takes them outside for worship. The child and its mother are tied with the thread, and the child is given a name. Alcohol is required during marriage. The boy's side must obtain the consent of the girl's side before or after marriage. Special ceremony must be carried out when the bride is brought and enters the groom's house. The Chepangs like to marry within their own community. There is a practice among Chepang of the son-in-law living in the father-in-law's house.

The Chepangs mostly bury their dead. The dead body is bathed and new clothes and garlands of flowers are put on the body and wrapped with burial cloth. A box is made of the barks of sal, in which the dead body is kept and buried. Pollution is observed by some for three days and by some for nine and also thirteen days. The death rites are carried out by the shaman (Praja, BS2056). After the recitation of sacred incantations, Chepangs collectively go to hunt and fish. They worship the bows and arrows used in hunting once every year. Chepang men wear a single piece of cloth around their waist and women wear clothes similar to majetro up to their necks.

Chepang are of two types, viz Pukunthale and Kachhare. The Pukunthale are said to have had states, Chepang kings, land and even the Kipat system in the past. They are considered a little more knowledgeable and adept in Chepang society. The Kachhare are ordinary Chepangs. Chepang are divided into many subgroups. Among Chepangs, women look after the household while men look after the affairs outside the house. The shaman, who is known as Pande, and Mahapande, takes the leadership role in almost all the relligious and social activities of Chepang society. The Chepang have the practice of propitiating ancestors (Kulpuja) and of Dewali. Chepang deities are especially of three types: Tangkaling or ancestral deity, Namrung or the god of hunting, deity related to land and Gaidu or the god of animals. The Chepangs revere and worship the Simebhume in a special way. Chepangs adhere to nature-worshipping shamanistic religion.

The Malla kings prior to Prithivi Narayan Shah, though they had conquered the Chepang Pukunthale kings, had given them Kipat. Prithivi Narayan Shah also had a system whereby the Chepang had to pay taxes. Thus, Chepangs have been the owners of their land since time immemorial. However, due to their practice of slash-and-burn farming in place of organized agricultural methods, the condition of Chepang is dire. Farming is not enough to provide for them. Hunting, fishing, collecting of edible shoots and roots are their traditional occupations. The Chepangs are also adept at weaving baskets and other items of bamboo, etc and in utilizing plants for beneficial purposes.

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