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Janajati

Mugali

The indigenous Mugalis are from the Mugu Karan area of the Mugu District of Karnali Zone. There are 12 Karan consisting of the 13 villages of Mugu, Dolphu, Maha, Chyute, Krimi, Mangri, Wongri, Katik and Daura and another village of Mugu where Mugalis live. They generally build three storied house by using stone, wood and mud in unique way. The ground floor is used to house livestock, first floor for storing grains and salt and the topmost is used as a live room cum kitchen. They are followers of Buddhism as well as Bon religion. They celebrate Lhosar, Yaplang Koge, Nyungne, Vhhikar, Chhewachyu and other festivals. Lhosar (New Year) is their principle festival. They are similar in language, dress and culture to the Tibetans in the north. The Mugalis of 12 Karan are farmers whereas those of Mugu are traders.

ImageMugali is the name of an indigenous people living in Mugali district. It is said that after the Khasa king, Nagaraj, in the eleventh century called, for trade purposes, 60 Bhotes from Mekham village of Khari region of Tibet and settled them in Mugu; the culture of Mugali began therein. Afterwards, the Bhotes who had come via Chharka Bhot from Sigarche were also settled in Mugu and they also came to be known as Mugali. There are two types of Mugali: those living in Mugu village proper and those living in the 12 villages of 12 Karan (Khola). Mugali are sllightly taller than other Tibetan communities.

The villages of Dolpu, Maha, Chitai, Bongi, Katike, Krimi, Sporok, Mangri Riusa, Daura, Serak, Puwa Gaon, etc of Mugu district, known as 12 Karan, are inhabited by Mugalis. They are to the right of the Mugu River, while the other group of Mugalis, ie in the first settlers live in the Mugu village proper so he left the Mugu River. The Mugu village proper is 24 km south of the Tibetan border and 9 km north of the Mugu village of the present. The Mugu village proper is called old Mugu.

The exact population of Mugali is not known. The population of Mugu district, according to the census of 2001, is 44,000. Among the 24 VDCs of Mugu, half are inhabited by Mugalis; hence, the population of Mugalis can be estimated between 10 to 12 thousand (Shahi, BS2058). The language of the Mugalis belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family. The Mugalis use the Tibetan script. Women giving birth to a child undergo purification nine days after birth. The purification involves inviting relatives for festivities known as Tamledelasang. The festivity, however, occurs only for the first born child. The child is given a name by the Lama three or four days after its birth. When the child becomes seven or eight years old, those from the boy's side take alcohol and cloth (Khada) and go to the girl's house to make arrangements for marriage. They formally tell their clan name and ask for the hand of the girl. If the girl's party accepts, relatives have to be feasted twice. In marriages undertaken after consulting the Lama for the auspicious occasion, the groom goes with his relatives in a procession to bring the bride. The bride is brought to the groom's house where the formalities related to the marriage are completed. The Mugali practise arranged marriage, marriage by capture as well as jari marriage (ie running away with another's wife and marrying her after paying fine to her former husband). The Mugali also practise polyandry. They celebrate the Lhosar festival. The men wear a dress known as Mokchi (Toji) Dhurmo Syaube. The married wear a cloth called Tha. Women wear Jhyarm and Kangje, that is bakkhu and docha. The colourful cloth wrapped below the waist by women is called Pangden and Kegu. The dead body is buried, burnt or cut into small pieces to be fed to vultures as per the instructions of a Lama. The death rites begin three days after death and are completed in 49 days. The period of population caused by death lasts for a year, although the Mugalis do not abstain from taking salt, oil and meat or shave their hair during the polluting period.

There are three groups of people in Mugali society, and inter-marriage occurs only within one's own group. The Mugalis are further divided into numerous subgroups like Sokhu, Tigti, Chhueda, Thuwa, Bhowa, etc. The head of the village is known as Cho, or Choja. The eldest son of Cho becomes Cho following the father's death. The Mugalis consider the Ghara, who engage in farming activities and sew clothes, as lowly. The Challa among the Mugalis is the middle class. The subgroups mentioned above consider themselves as highranking Shakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The same monastery in its upper part is know as Shakyapa and in its lower as Ningmapa. The monasteries initiate and produce Lamas. There are different kinds of Lamas, married and unmarried as well as those who shave their head and those who do not. The religion of Mugalis is also influenced by the Bon religion. Among the Mugalis, the main profession of the inhabitants of Mugu village proper is trade, while those of 12 Karan is farming and raising livestock (Ukyab and Adhikari, BS2057:49). The Mugalis used to engage in thriving trade in the past by paying taxes to the governments of both Nepal and Tibet. As there is not much trade with Tibet nowadays, they are at present engaged in international trades and business. The Mugali raise livestock and keep horses in large number.

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