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Federalism by Jill CottrellFederalism Issues in Designing a Federal System by Jill Cottrell in english language Download Powerpoint file Read more

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


Bahra Gaule

The inhabitants of the Bahra Gauns (12 villages) above the Thak Khola (river) and to the south of Lho Manthang in Mustang District are called the Bahra Gaunles. They resemble Lhopas in facial features, language and clothes. They also build their houses in the styles of the Lhopas of Lho Manthang. Almost every village in this region has an old fallen dzong or fort. I t tells us that tribal chiefs or little kings have considerable influence over their territories and exerted abundant efforts to protect their chiefdoms or kingdoms before the territorial unification of Nepal.

Bahra Gaunle practice both Bon and Buddhism. There are lots of Gumbas of different sects of Buddhism and of Bon pos within 18 villages that play vital role in their life. They are well known for some indigenous practices. Some of them practiced polyandry in the past, but rare today. The practice of marrying cross-cousins is quite common. Though they also work as indentured laborers, their main professions are farming and trade. The indigenous people found in and around the sacred Buddhist temple of Muktinath (the temple is popularly known as Chhume Gyatsa in the Tibetan speaking world) are also included among the Bahra Gaunles.

Among the indigenous peoples of Nepal are the Barhagaule. They have been named so as they live in the Barthagaun or twelve villages of Mustang. The name is derived not from the name of any ethnic group but from place of residence. Resembling Tibetans in language and costume, the Barhagaule who resemble the Lhopa living to the north of them, call themselves Bista, Thakuri, Gurung, etc (Sharma, BS2052:86). Although named Barhagaule due to being the inhabitants of Barhagaun, the Barhagaule today are, however, spread and scattered in eighteen villages.

Muktinath, Kagbeni and other places to the south of Lhomanthang, Mustang and north of Panchgaule are in the Barhagaun area. Kagbeni is the centre of Barhagaun, which is at a height of 2,810 mt. An indigenous people, Barhagaule, are spread in the VDCs of Muktinath, Thong, Kagbeni and Chhuksang. Some have settled in Kathmandu, Jomsom and Pokhara during the course of employment and business. Their main settlement is, however, Jharkot of Muktinath VDC. The Barhagaules are said to have come to Jharkot from Syangjung in Tibet sometime in the hoary past (Jhedi Magar, BS2057).

The population of Barhagaules is not known since they are not enumerated separately in the censuses. But it is estimated that their population is 2,000 in Mustang alone. The Barhagaules speak a language influenced by the Tibetan language belonging to the Tibeto-Burman language family. Their language has more affinity with the languages of Manange, Tangbe and Lhopa than with the Thakali language. Also, their culture is closer to the Lhopa and Manange than the Thakali and Panchgaule (Gurung, 1980:212-213). After the birth of a child, the mother undergoes the ritual purification ceremony in three days. The Barhagaule like to marry within their own community as far as possible. They used to practise polyandry to a great extent in the past, but this practice has now decreased. In love marriages, there is the practice after elopement of the son-in-law approaching his in-laws' house shouting apologies from a distance of 100 mt and the in-laws berating their son-in-law (Bista, 1996:193). Following a death, the rites are performed by a lama, and the nearby kin abstain from drinking and eating milk, meat and salt for three days. The ceremony related to death known as Ghewa is performed on the forty-ninth day. The Barhagaules celebrate festivals like horse racing (Partung), Lhosar, Dhachyang, etc. They live in houses close to one another, and the roof of their houses is flattened with mud. Although the costume and jewellery and food habit of Barhagaule are similar to those of Lhopa, they also have their own specialties.

The social system of Barhagaule, like some of the other inhabitants of the northern region, is influenced by the joint family system, polyandry, life centred on the monastery, and the custom of the second son and daughter of the family joining the monastery. The Barhagaule have a village council, called Chikhang, in every village to look into administrative affairs of the village and implement rules and regulations. Large meetings, if and when necessary, are held in Jharkot and Kagbeni under the chairpersonship of the Bista. Many of the customs and practices of Barhagaule are carried out as per the instructions of the lama.

The Barhagaule are Buddhists, though the largest monastery in Nepal belonging to the Bonpo religion is in Lupra of Barhagaon. This shows that the remnants of an animistic religion, the old Buddhist religion and shamanism are found among the Barhagaules, though they adhere to Buddhism today. Along with the monastery belonging to the Bonpo religion, there are also monasteries belonging to the Shakyapa, Karmapa and Nakpa sects of Buddhism in Barhagaon. As Barhagaules were in contact with Thakalis, they were involved in trade between Nepal and Tibet. But their main occupation is agriculture. Their areas lie below Lhomanthang and the agricultural production remains satisfactory if irrigation facilities are provided. They also tend and raise livestock. Till four to five decades ago, one member of each household of Barhagaunle used to serve in the houses of Thakalis as bonded labour for being unable to pay loans. But these days such a practice of bonded system is disappearing. Barhagaule themselves are making progress in business and trade.

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