Kami (caste)

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Regions with significant populations
   Nepal 12,58,554 (4.8% of Nepal's population) [1]
Nepali language (Khas kura)
Related ethnic groups
Khas people, Damai, Badi, Sarki, Gandarbha/Gaine

Kami/Bishwakarma (Nepali: कामी) is an ethno-linguistic Indo-Aryan Nepali speaking group. It is a Khas occupational caste belonging to blacksmiths.[2] The 1854 Nepalese Muluki Ain (Legal Code) categorized Kami as "Impure and Untouchable (Pani Na Chalne)" category.[3] Kami are categorized under "Hill Dalit" among the 9 broad social groups, along with Damai, Badi, Sarki and Gaine by the Government of Nepal.[1] Thus, the tribal designation of Khas is given only in few context to Kami, Damai and Sarki due to traditional low and untouchable status.[2]

Kamis are essentially blacksmiths and goldsmiths and are scattered across almost all hilly districts of Nepal, districts of Sikkim, Darjeeling (a District of W.B), and Assam; some have settled in other parts of India as well. They are also known as Vishwakarma or Bishwakarma.

The Kami are traditionally held to be the descendants of God or Lord Vishwakarma. They are one sub-caste from other Vishwakarma sub-caste like Sunar, Sarki, Damai etc. The word kami may derive from the Sanskrit word karma or kam, meaning "work". The Kami make the famous Khukuri knives used by the Gurkha Army, and a traditional Nepali drum called a Madal. They are also expert performers of the traditional folk dance Maruni Nritya.

According to the 2001 Nepal census, there were a total of 895,954 Kami in the country, of whom 96.69% were Hindus and 2.21% were Buddhists. According to 2011 Nepal census, Kami make up 4.8% of Nepal's population (or 12,58,554 peoples).[1]

Notable Kamis[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Nepal Census 2011" (PDF). 
  2. ^ a b Whelpton 2005, p. 31.
  3. ^ Gurung, Harka (2005) Social Exclusion and Maoist Insurgency. Paper presented at National Dialogue Conference at ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal peoples, Kathmandu, 19–20 January 2005.


External Links[edit]