Pahari people

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Pahari people
पहाड़ी
Regions with significant populations
   Nepal [1][2][3]
Religion
Om.svg Hinduism, Shamanism, Animism
Related ethnic groups
 India
Dogra, Himachali, Garhwali, Kumauni, Jaunsari
   Nepal
Madhesi, Nepalis[4][5]

The Pahari people, (Pahāṛī; Hindi and Nepali: पहाड़ी); also called Pahadi and Parbati, are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group of the Himalayas living in Nepal and are a majority of the population of the Himalayan regions of India (Himachal Pradesh and northern Uttar Pradesh). In Nepal, the Paharis constituted the single largest ethnic group at about 20,000,000, or three-fifths of the Nepalese population through the 1990s. Most Indo-Aryan Paharis, however, identify as members of constituent subgroups and castes within the larger Pahari community such as Bahun, Chhetri and Thakuri.

The name Pahari derives from pahar (पहाड़), meaning "hill", and corresponds to the Himalayan Hill Region which the Paharis inhabit. Nepali interpretation generally includes Pahari as constituting the dominant Khas and Newar ethnicities, indicating a contrast to that of these Indo-Aryan ethnicities with that of the Tibetan or tribal origins like Magar, Tamang, Gurung, Kirant, among others. Pahari may also contrast geography alone, encompassing even non-Indo-Aryan ethnicities against Madhesis (people of the plains).[2][3][5][6][7]

History[edit]

The Paharis are historically ancient, having been mentioned by the authors Pliny and Herodotus and figuring in India's epic poem, the Mahābhārata. References to Brahmins and Kshatriyas are found in Banawali (Tantric texts) on Nepal, in whose ancient setting Kathmandu was still a lake. These texts also contain references to Lord Krishna, himself considered a Kshatriya prince, who came with his cow herding group and remained around the Kathmandu Valley. Kathmandu was ruled by cow herding Gopal Vansh long before other castes settled the area, the four Narayana temples around the valley were established by these Vaishnava people.[3][8]

Before Nepal was united as a nation under the Shah dynasty (1768–2008), smaller kingdoms in the region were ruled by kings of various ethnic and caste groups, the ancient name of this Himalayan region was Khas Desh. Most populous among the people of this mid-mountainous area were the Khas people, also mentioned in the histories of India and China, the Khas people, Indo-Aryan mountain dwellers, spread to dominate the hills of Central Himalaya and played important role in the history of the region, establishing many independent dynasties in early medieval times. The Khas people had an empire, the Kaśa Kingdom, whose territory extended to Kashmir, part of Tibet, and Western Nepal (Karnali Zone).[9][10][11]

In the early modern history of Nepal, Pahari Chhetris played a key role in the unification of Nepal, providing the backbone of the Rajput Gorkha army of the mid-18th century, during the monarchy, Chhetris and Bahuns continued to dominate the ranks of the Nepalese Army, Nepalese government administration, and even some regiments of the Indian Army. Under the pre-democratic constitution and institutions of the state, Chhetri culture and language also dominated multiethnic Nepal to the disadvantage and exclusion of many Nepalese minorities and indigenous peoples, the desire for increased self-determination among these minorities and indigenous peoples was one of the central issues in the Nepalese Civil War and subsequent democratic movement.[4][12][13][14]

During the Shah Dynasty, the Paharis began to settle the Terai region. Politically, socially, and economically dominant over the Tharu under the conservative system of the monarchy, the Pahari community in the Terai purchased, or otherwise got hold of large landholdings. Together with traditional Tharu landlords, they constitute the upper level of the economic hierarchy, which in the rural parts of the Terai is determined to a large extent by the distribution and the value of agriculturally productive land, the poor are the landless, or near landless, Terai Dalits, including the Musahar and Chamar, as well as the traditional fishermen, the Mallah, and some of the hill Dalits. In particular the Musahars rarely get other work than hard farm labour, during and after the Nepalese Civil War, Paharis faced a violent backlash by the marginalized Madhesi community including ransoming, murder, and land dispossession by armed Maoist groups such as the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) seeking Madhesi independence.[citation needed][15][16][17][18][19]

Languages[edit]

Selected ethnic groups of Nepal; Bhotia, Sherpa, Thakali, Gurung, Kiranti, Rai, Limbu, Newari, Pahari, Tamang (note that Kulu Rodu (Kulung) territories are mistakenly marked as Tamu/Gurung territories in this map)

The Pahari people speak Indo-Aryan languages like Nepali.[citation needed]

Religion and castes[edit]

Nepali Khas Parbatiya peoples at Narayangarh, Chitwan

Most Nepalese Paharis are Hindus, with the exception of the shamanistic and oracular Matwali ("drinking") Khasa Chhetris. Hindu Paharis are generally more conscious of their caste (Varna, Jāti) and status than their indigenous neighbors, especially those Paharis living in rural Nepal. However, as a result of extensive historical contact with non-Hindu Nepalese, the Pahari caste structure is less orthodox and less complex than the traditional four-fold system in the plains to the south, the Pahari system is generally two-fold, consisting of the higher clean, Dvija castes and the lower unclean, Dalit castes. The Dvija (twice-born) include the Bahun (Brahmin) and Chhetri (Kshatriya) castes.[3][8]

Chhetris as a caste comprise many subgroups, including Khas (clans from Khas) and Thakuri (aristocratic clans). The Khas subgroups are widespread in the Karnali Zone.[12][20]

Society[edit]

King of Nepal, Rana Bahadur Shah belonged to Pahari community

The most prominent features of Nepalese Pahari society have been the Chhetri Shah dynasty (1768–2008), the Rana Prime Ministers that marginalized the monarchy (1846–1953), and its upper-caste presence in the armed forces, police, and government of Nepal, the King of Nepal himself was a member of the Chhetri Thakuri subcaste. In traditional and administrative professions, upper-caste Paharis were given favourable treatment by the royal government.[4][12][13][20][21][22][23]

Historically, Hindu Paharis have practiced a spectrum of marital customs including monogamy, polygamy (both polyandry and polygyny), and group marriage. Girls under age 10 may be betrothed, though they cohabit with their husbands only when they reach maturity. Wives must be faithful to their husbands while with them, however when wives visit their parents, they may behave as if unmarried. Most upper-caste Paharis do not practice cross-cousin marriage, however the aristocratic Thakuri subcaste allows marriage of maternal cross-cousins. Among all Paharis, remarriage by widows is formally prohibited by social norms; however an institution called "Jari" ( Sanskrit "Jarah" debauchery, paramour) exists. In this practice among Pahari hill dwellers, a woman will take a paramour, leaving her first husband, the second husband must pay the first husband "Jar dine" for the loss of his wife. Among Pahari families, death is treated by both burial and cremation. Low status individuals, such as children and some women are buried. Also, indigenous healers known as "Jhankri" are buried with their fontanelle pierced to allow their spirit to rise to the spirit world. Others, high caste and wealthy, are cremated per classic HIndu tradition.[12][20]

Lifestyle[edit]

Major Hiranya Bista (seated) with Tibetan guards, a Pahari civil servant of Chhetri caste

The Paharis, like the Madhesis are an agricultural people although a majority also rely on other activities for supplementary income. Cultivating terraces on the hillsides, their chief crops are potatoes and rice. Other crops include wheat, barley, onions, tomatoes, tobacco, and other vegetables. Pahari farmers raise water buffalo, sheep, goats, and cattle.[3][5]

Most higher-caste Paharis are farmers and civil servants, while lower-caste Paharis hold a variety of occupations including goldsmiths, leather workers, tailors, musicians, drummers, and sweepers. Most Paharis spin wool, however only lower-castes weave fabrics. Upper-caste Paharis, namely Chhetri and its Thakuri subcaste, held a virtual monopoly on government and military offices throughout the Shah Dynasty (1768–2008).[3][5]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Chapter 1.7 Population Distribution by Caste/Ethnic Groups and Sex for Nepal, 2001" (PDF). Statistical Yearbook 2009. Government of Nepal, Central Bureau of Statistics. 2001. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  2. ^ a b Lewis, M. Paul, ed. (2009). "Languages of Nepal". Ethnologue: Languages of the World (16 ed.). Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Retrieved 2011-05-08. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Pahādī". Encyclopædia Britannica online. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  4. ^ a b c  This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress document: Andrea Matles Savada, ed. (1991). "Nepal: A country study". Federal Research Division. Social Classes and Stratification.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "CS0" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  5. ^ a b c d  This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress document: Andrea Matles Savada, ed. (1991). "Nepal: A country study". Federal Research Division. Ethnic Groups. 
  6. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress document: Andrea Matles Savada, ed. (1991). "Nepal: A country study". Federal Research Division. Language. 
  7. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress document: Andrea Matles Savada, ed. (1991). "Nepal: A country study". Federal Research Division. The Hill Region. 
  8. ^ a b  This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress document: Savada, Andrea Matles, ed. (1991). "Nepal: A country study". Federal Research Division. Early Influences on Nepal.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "CS4" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  9. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress document: Savada, Andrea Matles, ed. (1991). "Nepal: A country study". Federal Research Division. The Three Kingdoms. 
  10. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress document: Savada, Andrea Matles, ed. (1991). "Nepal: A country study". Federal Research Division. The Making of Modern Nepal. 
  11. ^ Adhikary, Surya Mani (1997). The Khaśa kingdom: A Trans-Himalayan Empire of the Middle Age. Nirala. 2. Nirala Publications. ISBN 81-85693-50-1. 
  12. ^ a b c d Gurung, Harka B. (1996). Faces of Nepal. Himal Books. pp. 1–33, passim. 
  13. ^ a b  This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress document: Savada, Andrea Matles, ed. (1991). "Nepal: A country study". Federal Research Division. Recruitment, Training, and Morale. 
  14. ^ Stidsen, Sille (2006). The Indigenous World. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA). pp. 374–380. ISBN 87-91563-18-6. 
  15. ^ "OCHA Nepal – Situation Overview" (PDF). Issue 12. OCHA. April 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  16. ^ "OCHA Nepal – Situation Overview" (PDF). Issue 16. OCHA. July–August 2007. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  17. ^ "OCHA Nepal – Situation Overview" (PDF). Issue 30. OCHA. June–July 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-02-18. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  18. ^ Sharma, Hari (2010-11-18). "Body of murder victim found in Gulmi". Gulmi: The Himalayan Times online. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  19. ^ Hatlebakk, Magnus (2007). "Economic and social structures that may explain the recent conflicts in the Terai of Nepal" (PDF). Kathmandu: Norwegian Embassy. Retrieved 2011-05-08. 
  20. ^ a b c McConnachie, James; Reed, David (2009). The Rough Guide to Nepal. Rough Guides (6 ed.). Penguin Books. ISBN 1-84836-138-6. 
  21. ^ Burbank, Jon (2002). Nepal. Cultures of the World (2 ed.). Marshall Cavendish. ISBN 0-7614-1476-2. 
  22. ^ Bajracharya, Bhadra Ratha; Sharma, Shri Ram; Bakshi, Shiri Ram (1993). Cultural History of Nepal. Anmol Publications. pp. 286–8. ISBN 81-7041-840-2. 
  23. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress document: Savada, Andrea Matles, ed. (1991). "Nepal: A country study". Federal Research Division. Society.