Nepal’s population is about 25 millions. According to the census taken by the Central Bureau of Statistics state that there are 61 (presently 59) ethnic groups of people speak different languages. However most of the ethnic groups can be broadly divided into two groups: Indo-Aryans/Indo-Nepalese and Tibeto Mongolians/Tibeto Nepalese. Historically the people of the former group entered the territory of Nepal during the period of Muslim’s conquest in the Indian sub-continental and the latter came to Nepal across the Himalayas pass from the north and they inhabited the Himalayan valley and slopes. The latter group is the aboriginals of the country. In addition, there are many nomadic tribes in the hills and terai who have now submitted to the agrarian system.
Brahmans are the members of the highest social caste. There are two different categories of Brahmans namely “Kumai Brahmans” and “Purbiya Brahmans”. They are only differs in their derived homeland. The “Kumai Brahmans” are supposed to have come from Mountainous regions of Kumaon in the northern India west of Nepal. The “Purbiya Brahmans” came from the eastern part of Nepal and are found scattered across the country. The Brahmans are the priestly caste. The Brahmans priests are exclusively in all Hindu temples. Nepali is official language and was originally spoken by Brahman. They are better educated than other ethnic groups. They have occupied important government and educational posts in Nepal.
CHHETRIS & THAKURIS
In the caste hierarchy of Nepal, the Chhetris and Thakuris come in the second position after Brahmans. They are the rulers, leaders and warriors. The Brahmans are their Teacher and family priests. They are orthodox Hindu. Thakuris are originally come from the northern part o Nepal in the 12 to 13 century. In Nepal, Chhetris and Thakuris are among the most influential and well to do social class. They are mostly in the government services in the high ranked positions in the army and police. Some of them are remained farmers and are relatively poor and live like other ethnic group. Those living in the higher hills in the far western region lead hard lives because of lack of rain and farming is practiced in the river valleys and on the hill flanks.
In the middle hills and valley along the southern slope of the Annapurna Himalaya in the mid-western, Gurung live together with other ethnic group like Magars, Brahmans and Chhetis. They are sturdy and hardworking. They are mongoloid physiognomically. They extend their living territories from Gorkha in the east through Lamjung, Manang and Kaski to Syangja district. According to the Legend, the Gurung were wandering tribe that traversed west across Tibet prior to their entry into Mustang. They are pre-dates the introduction of Buddhism (7th Century). Their religious traditions are basically animistic. They celebrate Lhosar (New Year) at the end of December is according to the ancient calendar of western Tibet. A caste hierarchy divides that Gurung Community as “Char Jat and sora Jat” means group of four and sixteen class. Traditionally they prefer cross cousins marriage. They also have a tradition of “Rodi”, a club of boys and girls of similar age group where dancing and singing are preformed. They also perform other tradition dances Sorathi, Ghado, Ghatu and others on marriage and occasions. Most of Gurung are engaged in British and Indian Gurkha regiments.
Magar live in the western and central hills of Nepal. They had their own countrys until the 18th century and were closely associated with the Hindu Indo-Aryans in the west. Much of their cultural practices have been influenced by Chhetris. Today it is difficult to make any difference in the housing, dressing and farming practices of the two. The Magar have been sought after by the British and Indian armies and a great number serve in the Gurkha regiments. They speak a dialogue derived from Tibeto-Burman group of languages. Their religion is Buddhism. However they are also Hindu Magar. The Magar Community celebrates the festival dedicated to the goddess Kalingreatpomp (Hindu festival) where they sacrifice a lot goat during this occasion. Magar vaillage are typical with round and oval houses.
Sherpa is a combinations of Tibetan words Shar (East) and Pa (People) “people of the east”. They are migrated from eastern Tibet and now living in the eastern part of Nepal. Sherpa are the most famous among the Himalayan peoples because of their impeccable mountaineering skill which has made them as indispensable part of mountain expeditions as Leaders, Guides and porters. As an individual or in groups, they have set many records in the mountaineering world. Most of the sherpa live in Khumbu region of eastern Nepal in the vicinity of Mt. Everest along with Arun valley, Dudh Koshi river and its tributary areas. Traditionally in Sherpa community fraternal polyandry is found i.e. two brothers may marry one common wife. However, if there are three brothers, the middle one has to serve the Monastery as a Monk. For the four brothers, the group of two may marry two common wives. But this system is abolished from sherpa society these days. Sherpa observe many festivals during the year. The important festivals are Lhosar and Dumje festival in Sherpa community.
Tharuare one of the oldest and original indigenous ethnic groups to inhabit the Terai. They are spread across the length of Nepal’s plain and extend westward into the Kumaon foothill. The Tharu language has been greatly influenced by various Indo-Aryan such as Maithili in the eastern, Bhojpuri in the central and Awadhi in the western Terai. Tharus have their own unique religion and practice animism. Their culture is especially suited for the hot plains and they are actually immune to malaria. They have Mongoloid features with dark-brown, the Rana Tharu of the western Terai claim them as Rajput ancestry and speak their own language. There is much migration going on in the country now and the cultural definition of the people by area is difficult. Urban population is increasing by 7% each year and most cultures have intermingled. Tharu Marriages are particulars within the same tribes. Traditionally Tharu religion is to worship the spirits particularly of the forest.
Newar are the original inhabitant and indigenous ethnic group of Kathmandu Valley. They are natives of Kathmandu with greater concentration in the kathmandu valley, Banepa, Dhulikhel, Bhojpur, Bandipur, Tansen and other parts of Nepal. Newars are mainly traders. Despite the small percentage numerically, they contribute significantly and the creators of the splendid civilization of its three cities - Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur in the history, art, architecture,and business activities in the country. The skillfully - built temples and palaces, delicately-engraved stone and metal images, carved wooden columns and pillars, and the history laden shrines and chaityas of these three historical cities stand testimony to the Newar's artistic achievements. Newar speak their own language “Newari” also known as Nepal Bhasa which belongs to Tibeto-Burman family language.