Tamang people

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Total population
Tamang language
90% Dharma wheel.svg Buddhism
10% other (including Om.svg Hinduism)
A Tamang Woman
Buddhist Lama of the Tamang People, Tistung, Nepal

The Tamang ཏ་མང (Devnagari: तामाङ; tāmāng), are the migrant from tibet of the Himalayan regions of tibet and china, their ancestral land is called lhasa.[1][better source needed] They are the aborigines of tibetian. The traditionally Buddhist Tamang are the largest Tibeto-Burman ethnic group within Nepal, constituting 5.6% of the national population of over 1.3 million in 2001, increasing to 1,539,830 as of 2011 census,[2] yet contested.[3] Tamang are also a significant minority in Sikkim and Darjeeling District of West Bengal of India as permanent settlers;[4][5] their languages are fifth most spoken in Nepal (note all Tamang languages are not mutually intelligible). They were one of the aborigines who were least affected by Nepalisation.[6] Peculiar to Tamang people are complex marriage restrictions within the community.


1/3 of all deaths were among Tamang people, and roughly 2/3 of the 600,000 structures completely destroyed were in Tamang dominant areas.[7] It is the poverty, neglect and outright discrimination against Tamangs that makes them even more vulnerable to disasters like earthquakes, landslides and floods—Anthropologist Mukta Singh Lama.[7]

Until 1950, Tamang were neither accepted into government posts, whether administrative, judicial or political, nor allowed to accept foreign employment, serving as a labour pool for the ruling class.[4] But nowadays, Tamangs are highly respected as Buddhist Monks (priest) as rinpoche, khempo. In many Tamang Villages, there is still a tradition of sending the second son to study Buddhism and preferably to remain in the Monastery, and serve as a Buddhist Monk throughout his life. Tamangs have also served as Gurkha soldiers (brigadier, colonel, IGP, inspector ) in British Gurkha army, Singapore police, Indian army and police and Nepalese army and police.

The governments have considered that an empowerment of Tamang community is essential to in order to increase the living standard of the people. On August 3 the Nepalese parliament adopted a bill amending the Civil Service Act 1993. The amendments provide reservations for disadvantaged groups by allocating 45 percent of the jobs in the bureaucracy to these groups.

Political Participation[edit]

Tamangs are represented by Tamsaling Rastriya Mukti Morcha and Tamsaling Nepal Rastriya Dal, neither of which holds any seats in Parliament. The umbrella group Mongol National Organisation supports self-determination and works against said discrimination not just for Tamangs but for all Mongoloid groups in the country. Mongol National is against conversion to Hinduism of non-Hindus, but it holds no official parliamentary vote. Federal Limbuwan State Council (FLSC) also works towards similar goals for self-determination for the Kirati peoples, who co-mingle with Tamangs, citing a reneged treaty with Kathmandu for autonomy.[8] The associated Sanghiya Limbuwan Party has participated in calling banda during the 2015 Nepal blockade,[9] nevertheless international press had not only failed to take note of their bandh, but even pretended not to notice their very existence and instead focused intently on 4 party India-backed Madhesi Morcha actions, geopolitical concerns with China, as Limbuwan also opposes both the Madhesi goals as well as Kathmandu's domination.[10] However, there is rationale to India and Western nation's denial of information about Limbuwan actions during the fuel blockade, in the 1980s, a violent Gorkhaland movement within India was led by the prominent Tamang Subhas Ghising to which India had viewed as a security threat due to the proximity of India's chicken neck.[5] Madan Tamang, a Tamang-Indian politician, and proponent for Gorkhaland statehood, was assassinated in 2010, with West Bengal government placing blame on another Gorkhaland political party, in effect weakening the movement. Gorkhaland Territorial Administration was then created in place of statehood in India, nevertheless across the border, ethnic discrimination issues regarding the numerous Mongoloid groups (who have taken part in each other's politics) are left unresolved within Nepal.


Tamang Gompa, Jorpati (02)

The religion is considered by Tamangs as Nyingma tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism, the earliest form of Buddhism to come to Nepal/Tibet with Padmasambhava, and due to geopolitical focus on Tibet, Tamangs hold their beliefs are also largely ignored by Western scholars.[4] Tamang have gompas (monasteries) in every sizeable village. Every family has their special Buddhist Yidam and book to practice every morning. The Tamangs retain jhankris (shamans) in addition to their Lama clan (Tamang) (priests), the latter whose surnames are also Lama. Additionally there exists the honorific term Lama (honorific), assigned to all Tamang regardless of kinship clan (swagen bhai). This is not to be confused with Lama of Tibet or the Sherpa Lama surname and clan. These jhankris perform certain rites such as trances and sacrifices to alleviate problems or assure good fortune.[4] According to the 2001 census[citation needed], 90.3% of the Tamang people follow Buddhism that makes up 47.3% of the total in the country. Hence, Tamang are the largest population who follow Buddhism in Nepal.

2015 Quake devastation and humanitarian crisis[edit]

Today they inhabit the borders of Nepal and Tibet, due to marginalization from Kathmandu, and are among the groups hardest hit by the April 2015 Nepal earthquake.


The word Tamang is re-constructed from 2 words: Ta – Horse and Mang – Ghost in the Tamang language.[4]



Tamangs are divided into 240 families.[4]

Flags and colourful printed by Buddhist mantra, holy words and clothes are put in different places in the village.[2] Tamang have a dance called " Tamang Selo" that is performed with the Damplu instrument, also known as Damphoo Dance, having a brisk movement and rhythmic beat specific to the Tamangs.[5]

Dashain is also approached with much enthusiasm by Tamangs.[2]


Most Tamangs are farmers, engaged in agriculture. Due to the lack of irrigation at higher altitudes, their crops are often limited to corn, millet, wheat, barley, and potatoes. They often supplement their farming income with manual labour. Due to the discrimination experienced by the Tamang people in the past, they have remained on the whole poorly educated, and the majority have been limited to working in farming, mountain trekking, portering, and in driving in Kathmandu. They also work in construction of Tibetan rugs, Thankas (Tibetan painting), driving, labour and trekking.[4] As far as farming is concerned, Tamang are dependent on rainfall and do not employ modern machinery.[2]

Kinship clans[edit]

Thars (Tamang language:Swagen Bhai) are exogamous clans with complex intermarriage restrictions. There are over 39 listed swagen bhai in one study.[2]

Origins and History[edit]

Tamangs have long inhabited Kathmandu Valley and the hills of Nepal in general, yet the origins of Tamang are exactly from tibet, yet they believe they are indigenous to the area had once ruled lhasa. They have beliefs that they have been descended from bhote which is called as mugu district in modern district.[4]

Trekking and Tourism[edit]

Tamang villages are often visited on Nepal's numerous trekking routes, one being labelled Tamang Heritage Trail.[11] They also work as porters and the chances are that the porters and guides on a Trek are more likely to be a Tamang than an actual Sherpa.[4]


  1. ^ "About TAMANG | Nepal Tamang Society, Japan नेपाल तामाङ समाज जापान". Tamangsamaj.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  2. ^ a b c d e https://publications.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/73036/Ghimire_Mahesh.pdf?sequence=1
  3. ^ note from: http://thebluespace.com/the-tamang-people/, "these figures are contested by the Tamang themselves as some had written Lama or their family name on the census form were not counted as Tamang and many others have in the past changed their caste in order to escape the caste limitations placed upon them."
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The Tamang People - The Blue Space Guides Nepal". Thebluespace.com. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  5. ^ a b c https://books.google.com/books?id=uLfE8HGwdIMC&pg=PA277 Emergent North-East : A Way Forward By H. C. Sadangi
  6. ^ "Report on Socio-Economic Status of Tamang–Kavre". Nefin.org.np. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  7. ^ a b "The Brief » Blog Archive » The Tamang epicentre". Nepali Times. 2015-07-05. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  8. ^ Chemjong, Iman Singh (2003). History and Culture of Kirat People (4th ed.). Kathmandu: Kirat Yakthung Chumlung. ISBN 99933-809-1-1.
  9. ^ "Sanghiya Limbuwan Party calls indefinite Eastern Region bandh". The Himalayan Times. 2015-09-04. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  10. ^ Om Astha Rai. "Look south | As It Happens". Nepali Times. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 
  11. ^ Post Report. "The Kathmandu Post :: Tamang Heritage Trail reopens after quake". Kathmandupost.ekantipur.com. Retrieved 2015-12-23. 

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