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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



The ancient Lepchas are believed to have originated from the foothills of Mount Kanchanjunga, which they revere as their deity. Lepchas presently live in the Ilam District of Nepal, and in Sikkim, Darjeeling and Kalimpong of India. They consider themselves of royal stock. Their language is a derivation from the Tibeto-Burman family. They have their own script, and their holy scripture is called Astachyo. Animist in origin, many Lepchas now adhere to Buddhism and Christianity. In Lepcha society, alcohol is considered "clean". There is no animosity and caste system among the Lepchas. The dead are taken out through the broken wall of the house and are buried. The Lepcha social council is called Rong Senungthi. Their dance is called Loknen. Commerce and agriculture are their major occupations. According to Census 2001, their population is 3,660.

ImageLepchas (Lapchas) are a minority indigenous people of Nepal who have settled from ancient times in the eastern side of Maikhola in Ilam district. They call themselves ‘Rong'. According to their mythology, a place called Mayal Lyang near Mt Kanchanjungha is their original abode. Besides Ilam, they are found in small numbers in Dhankuta and other districts. Apart from Nepal, this tribe is found in Sikkim and in Darjeeling of West Bengal. The census of 2001 records their population at 3,660.

Lepchas have their own language, which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family of languages. They also have their own script. They are divided into several clans and sects. They prefer endogamous marriage within their own clan. Marriage is allowed after nine generations in the lineage of the father and after three generations in the lineage of the mother (Singh, 1994:689-690). There is a practice of bringing a wife by agreement with her parents or by serving her parents to their satisfaction. The boy should work in the girl's parent's home in the period between betrothal and his bringing his wife home (Gorer, 1996:147). The boy should pay a certain amount of money by way of a custom in return for bringing the girl to his home. Divorce is allowed with the consent of society and the losing party in the divorce is given compensation. Widow marriage and remarriage are allowed. A newborn is christened on the third day of its birth. The funeral rites are of two or three types. Mourning is observed for a period ranging from one day to 49 days (Singh, 1994). While performing the rites relating to death dead parents are also worshipped.

The ancient religion of Lepchas (Lapchas) is called ‘Munlom', almighty god is called ‘Takbo Thingum', the master of wicked souls is called ‘Chhyugemung Pano' and shamans are called ‘Bungthinglom' (Chemjong, BS2026). Nowadays Lepchas are seen accepting all three religions, ie Buddhism, worshipping of nature and Dhami-jhankribad (shamanism). Almost all of the Lepchas of Ilam, however, are Buddhists, but at the same time they follow Dhami-jhankribad. Although they were influenced by Buddhism since early times, they became Buddhists clearly and totally specially after the last decade of AD1820. They belong to the Ningma-Pa sect of Buddhism (Jeffrey, 2001). They are widely influenced by Dhamis and Jhankris besides Lamas. Their dhami is called ‘Mun Mun'. The better group of Mun Mun is called Tang-Li Mun and the worse group is call Mun-Mook Mun in accordance with these beliefs. In addition to these, Padem or Bonthing, Yaba (female Yama) is believed to have come from Limbus and Pau from Sikkimese Bhotes (Gorer, ibid: 215-216). They are considered to be rich in folklore.

Agriculture is the main occupation of Lepchas and these days some of them are seen to have started to be engaged in trades also. In the earlier days, they had their own Subbas and Kajis (chieftains), but today their old system has collapsed and majority of them have only small land holdings with them.

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