The Chepang are an indigenous
Tibeto-Burman people group numbering
around fifty-two thousand mainly inhabiting the rugged ridges of the
Mahabharat mountain range of central Nepal.
Over the past two or three generations, the Chepang have begun to
slowly shift from a semi-nomadic (slash-and-burn) lifestyle to a more
settled way of life, relying increasingly upon the production of
permanent fields of maize, millet and bananas. The severe topography,
however, has made permanent farming difficult (and usually
insufficient), and the forest has remained an important (although
decreasingly so) source of food for the Chepang. Historically, the
collection of wild yams and tubers, fish caught from nearby rivers,
bats and wild birds, and periodically wild deer hunted from nearby
forests, have supplemented their need for carbohydrates and protein.
With increasing populations, lack of arable land and few irrigation
options, malnutrition has been a historic problem for the Chepang
despite forest supplements. The Chepang have often been characterized
as the poorest of Nepal’s poor. Forced teenage pregnancies are
common. Chepang men and women are basically egalitarian and no social
ranking exists as it does in caste Nepalese society. Many Chepang
cannot read and write due to a lack of education beyond elementary
school, and this illiteracy stands in contrast to the great gains
Nepal has been making in reducing illiteracy. According to the 2001
Nepal Census, there are 52,237 Chepang in the country, of which 67.63%
were Hindu, 23.38% were Buddhists, 7.49% were Christians, and 1.25%
others. They are mostly located in Dhading District, Chitwan
District, Gorkha District, Makwanpur District, and Tanahu District.
3 2015 earthquake and political crisis
4 External links
The Chepangs themselves follow Animism, although they are strongly
influenced by both
Hinduism and Buddhism, which came from the Tamangs
just north of them. They observe all the
Hindu festivals of Dashain,
Tihar and Sakrantis besides their own tribal festival Nwagi or
Chhonam, which is performed on a Tuesday during third week of Bhadra
(some day in August and September). Chhonam is the auspicious day for
eating a new crop. Before the celebration of this festival, eating
certain agricultural products is prohibited.
In the 5th National Gathering of Chepang, 2004, it was stated they
practiced Prakriti (Nature), with ancestor worship as most important.
They worship many deities including Bhumi, Aita Bare, Gaidu, Namrung
etc. (earth deity) etc. They also observe other different festivals
like, Maghe Sakranti, Saune Sakranti, Dashain, Tihar.
The language is also known as Chepang but is called Chyo-bang by the
people themselves. Some
Bahun Chettri castes call these people the
"Praja" meaning "political subjects". The people speak 3 different
dialects of this
Tibeto-Burman language that is closely related to
Raute and Raji, two undocumented languages spoken in western Nepal.
Chepang language is one of the few languages which uses a duodecimal
(base 12) counting system rather than the decimal (base 10).
2015 earthquake and political crisis
Chepang are among the most vulnerable due to the combination of April
Nepal earthquake and 2015
Nepal blockade. More than 50 per cent
of the people killed were from marginalised communities ranked low in
Human Development Index
Human Development Index (HDI). Chepang communities were already
suffering from severe malnutrition before the blockade, along with
the Tamang. Due to historic discrimination and neglect and remote
communities, Chepang have suffered discrimination even at the hands of
the Nepali Food Corporation in charge of emergency food
distribution. Social activist KP Kiran Sharma said Chepangs
compulsorily eat rice during Dashain, where meat is often eaten by
more wealthy groups, but they are unlikely to afford even rice this
year (2015). Hence they are among the most vulnerable ethnic groups
facing potential population bottleneck in the winter of 2015/16
despite their already small numbers. The
Nepal Red Cross has stepped
in providing them with relief when left to rot by the government, in
turn, opportunistically converting them to Christianity.
Chepangs in Lothhar fight cold with donated clothes (photo feature)
The Chepang Language - Linguistics research and language documentation
^ 2011 Census,
^ a b Beine, Caughley and Shrestha. 2012. Chepang Then and Now: Life
and Change Among the Chepang of Nepal. Blurb Books.
^  Archived February 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
^ a b c http://nnem.org/?p=336
^ a b
^ a b
Ethnic groups in
Nepal by by language family
Nepalese Central Tibetic
Lhomi (Sing Saapa)
Sunuwar and Rai
Lama clan (Tamang)
Over 25 distinct castes, major being Shresthas, Chathariya, Jyapu,
Rajopadhyaya Brahmins, Chitrakar, Khadgi, Manandhar,
Dhobi, Pode, Ranjitkar, Mali, etc.
of a distinct origin
Kisan of Oraon Sadri
Other peoples (M, D, i)
Dudh and Dhelki Khadiya/Bankariya
Mountain people (Buddhist/Animism)
Hill people (Eastern Paharis and Newars, Hindu/Buddhist)
Kirati (East, mostly Mundhum/Buddhist)
Terai (Madhesi, Tharu, Danuwar and Dhimal) (Lowland)
Nepali Muslim (South)
About one third of
Madhesi people are of Indian ancestry while the
other two thirds are indigenous.