Indigenous Magar people of Nepal

Indigenous Magar people of Nepal

Govind Prasad Thapa Magar, PhD, MA, BL, MPA, BA

Background

Nepal is a melting pot of many races and tribes. There are 126 castes and ethnic groups in Nepal. The prehistory and the early history of Nepal are largely unknown. The ancient origin and history of Magar people is shrouded in speculations. Despite several literary sources on Magars, the origin and history are replete with compounded speculations and inexplicit details. Information on Magars is speckled here and there. Some of these are incomplete, contradict each other, controversial, and quite often there are missing links in between the periods of history. This is so due to the dearth of substantial pieces of evidence, accurate, and chronological documents.

The Magars, the largest among the ethnic groups, is also the third-largest group in Nepal. At the time of the Nepal Census, 2011, the population of Magars was 1,887,733 (7.1% of the population of Nepal). They inhabit throughout the country with the highest population in the western part of the country—nicknamed as ‘Bahra Magarat’ ‘twelve land of Magars’ (821530), followed by the mid-western (484771) and central region (324869) of the country.

The Magars, the aboriginal stock of Nepal, are most undoubtedly Mongolian. From a linguistic point of view, there are three types of Magars living in Nepal. Kaike Magars living in Dolpa district who speak Kaike; Kham Magars who live in Atharha Magarat region and speak Kham; and the Magars who live in Bahra Magarat and speak Dhut Magar dialects. Many foreign anthropologists and sociologists have accomplished their studies or written books on all these three types of Magars. These Magars speak Tibeto-Burman dialect. Even within this Tibeto-Burman family Kham dialect is spoken by Magars in the Mid-Western region, Tarali or Kaike in Dolpa district of North-Western region, and Dhut, mostly in the West and Central part of Nepal. The population of Magars speaking these three Magar language is 2.98% of the total population of Nepal (2011 Census). Other remaining Magars speak Khas and Nepali. The Magar tongue-speaking population in 1952/54, 1991, 2001, and 2011 were 273780, 430264, and 770116, and 788,530 respectively. According to the number of people speaking a language, the Magar language is ranked as the seventh most widely spoken language in Nepal.

The study of languages has sometimes been useful in determining the historical settlements of the people in Nepal. As Witzel explains that the Magarat “extends from the Bheri in the west to Burhi Gandaki in the east and is fairly uniform in its nomenclature: river names invariantly end in –ri or –di. The names in –ri are found in the western part, that is in Kham territory, the names in –di in the eastern part. The River Ba-bai, to the south of the Bheri, may have a Magar name as well: bəy, bəyh is a Kham Magar word for ‘river’.”[i]

Magars as warriors

In the 1750s, Prithibi Narayan Shah, the “father of modern Nepal,” was consolidating the many petty kingdoms scattered across the land. For this task, he counted heavily upon his Magar soldiers. The outside world, however, came to know of the Magar only after the British began recruiting soldiers in Nepal for Gurkha regiments. The British quickly came to appreciate the Magars’ qualities and they became a major part of their Nepal (Gurkha) contingent.

The Gurkha soldiers have written their own history through bravery, by being the ‘Bravest of the Braves’. Five Magars—Kulbir Thapa Magar, Karna Bahadur Rana Magar, Lal Bahadur Thapa Magar, Tul Bahadur Pun Magar, and Netra Bahadur Thapa Magar have earned covetous Victoria Cross (VC) Medals and Dhan Singh Thapa Magar was awarded Param Vir Chakra (PVC) Medal for the gallantry and bravery.  “A shrewd critic of the war” had described the situation in those times in the following words: “Almost wherever there was a theatre of war Gurkhas were to be found, and everywhere they added to their name for high courage. Gurkhas helped to hold the sodden trenches of France in that first terrible winter and during the succeeding summer. Their graves are thick on the Penninsula, on Sinai, and on the plains of Tigris and Euphrates, and even among the wild mountains that border the Caspian Sea. And to those who know, when they see the map of that country of Nepal, there must always recur the thought of what the people of that country have done for us.”[ii]

 Marie Lecomte-Tilouine, who had been in Gulmi district of Nepal for her study, also refers to the military bravery of their (Magars) ancestors, claiming that it has not been recognized by the state, whatever high-caste leadership they helped to create. For example, in the history of the unification of Nepal, they picture themselves as heroes who built the country, without considering the possibility that they themselves cut the branch on which they sat by annihilating the power they had in petty kingdoms such as Palpa where they were numerically dominant and closely linked to the royal family. This situation is perhaps due to the fact that the petty kingdom which grew into a nation by swallowing its numerous neighbors was precisely a former Magar territory, where members of this group were numerous and closely related to the royal family through their cults. In a way, the Magars undoubtedly have the feeling that “Gorkha’s victory is also their own.”[iii]

Christoph also relates a similar stance of Magars’ proud record of martial exploits, and Magar officers serving in the armies of the early Gurkha kings as well as in those of the Newar states of the valley. In even earlier times, the Magar chieftains of Western Nepal seem to have faced Thakuri and Chetri chiefs on equal terms, and the same clan-names, such as for instance Thapa and Rana, occur among Magars and Chetris. Gurkha soldiers have earned fame across the globe. There can be no better account of the classic character and bravery of “the best soldiers of Asia”[iv] made by Hodgson. Everywhere Magars found they had also gained a reputation for honesty and hard work.[v]

 Origin and History

The yearning to know one’s origin and history is to not only establish one’s identity but also for sentimental attachments for the people and place. Knowing past history is something like backtracking into the primitive stages of society. This knowledge may not turn out payback or profits but it is a delight (or sometimes displeasure?) to know the past.

 There is a myth about the Magars. According to this, the first Magar was the youngest of four brothers. The eldest worshipped Kalika and became the ancestor of the Thakuris and the youngest sacrificed a pig to Bhairobi and hence became a Magar.[vi] “We have lived here always” types of claims have to be based on facts, not fictions, anything short of these could give out the prospect to remarks like “Magars’ history is lost in obscurity.”[vii]

Michael Witzel mentions “Magars were apparently known already to the Mahabharata as Maga, to the Puranas under the name of Mangara, and in a Nepalese copper plate inscription of 1100/1 A.D. as Mangvara.”[viii] Even in the heartland of the speakers of Western Nepali (the-gad area) indicate a Magar settlement that must have extended much more towards the west before the immigration of the Nepali-speaking Khasa/Khas in the Middle Ages.[ix] These details go together with the presumption that an original population, probably of Tibeto-Burman ethnicity, lived in Nepal some 2500 years ago.[x]

Many Magars think that they have occupied and used their land for centuries; have changed the very shape of the mountain upon which they live with their terraces; have worn footpaths connecting farmsteads deep into the soil and those stone resting platforms for wayfarers under the great roots of the banyan trees planted long ago to provide shade enclose. They feel they belong where they are, “and indeed they do”, for the people fit the land and the land fits them. And not only do the people live on their land as they feel they always have, but their many ‘godlings’ that control life and the resources upon which life is based are at home there also and must be treated with regular sacrifices of food.[xi] Some writers quote the local Magars that they “have no legends of origin from another place.” Contrary to this, M.S. Thapa Magar is of the opinion that “Magars came from East Pamir of China.”[xii]

Vansittart is of the view that “the aboriginal stock of Nepal is most undoubtedly Mongolian. This fact is inscribed in very plain characters, in their faces, forms, and languages.”[xiii] He is also of the opinion that “the principal seat of the Magars was most of the central and lower parts of the mountains between the Jhingrak (Rapti of Gorakhpur) and Marsiangdi Rivers. That they resided about Palpa from time immemorial is well known.”[xiv]

For Gary, the Magars were a Mongolian people who had migrated into Nepal in the predawn of history. Many of the other ethnic groups had legends that told how they had come to Nepal from Tibet or some other places, but not the Magars, for them, at least, history simply began and ended in Nepal. Nevertheless, who were the real Magars—the original ones? Gary found that most likely it was the Magar community which was to be found in Central Nepal in Palpa, Syangja, and Tanahu district.[xv]

Hodgson is also of the opinion that the original seat of the Magars in the Bara Mangranth, or Satahung, Payung, Bhirkot, Dhor, Garahung, Rising, Ghiring, Galmai, Argha, Khachi, Musikot, and Isma; in other words, most of the central and lower parts of the mountains, between the Bheri and Marsyandi Rivers. As is reflected by Landon, Magars seem to have spread widely, both east and west, after surrendering Palpa to invaders.[xvi] Modern events have spread the Magars and Gurungs over most parts of the present kingdom of Nepal.[xvii]

Hitchcock is of the view that “the tribe seems to have been part of a very ancient influx of Mongoloid, Tibeto-Burman speaking peoples into Nepal, probably from the north and east. It also seems probable, in view of differences between its northern and southern halves, that the tribe represents two different streams of migration.”[xviii] He finds differences “especially on each side of a line that divides their homeland roughly into northern and southern halves. The Magar tribe is split into a number of subtribes. In the southern half of the region, the sub-tribes that predominate almost to the exclusion of any others are the Ale, Rana, Thapa, and Burathoki Magars in the northern half of the area belong to different groups of sub tribes, Bura, Gharti, Pun, and Rokha.”[xix]

Pandit Sarat Chandra relates an incident that could have significant importance in this connection: “It was told of the upper Kangpa-chan valley that it was first peopled by Tibetans called Sharpa (Easterners), whose original home was in the mountains of Shar Khambu, or Eastern Kirata. Lower down the valley lived the Magar tribe from Nepal, whose chief extended his sway over the Sharpa, and exacted such oppressive taxes from them that they decided to avenge themselves. The Magar chief, going to the village of Kangpa-chan, he and his followers were murdered, and their bodies buried…Kangpa-chan people, who drank deeply, and fell asleep to awake no more. Nearly a thousand people were in this way done to death, and the babies were carried away by the queen’s followers. The place where this foul deed was done became known as Tongshong Phug, ‘the place which witnessed a thousand murders.’ ……The Tibetans finally expelled the Magars from the Kangpa-chan and Tambur valleys, and restored them to their former possessors.”[xx] Similarly, Iman Singh Chemjong also argues that “Magars are a composite group of Kirant and Monkhu and later on became Mangar.”[xxi] The references made by Sharad Chandra and Iman Singh Chemjong suggest to us the possibility of the existence of Monguor people in the Gansu province of China could also have a relationship with Magars of Nepal.

The origins of Kaike Magars end up with the mystical tales told and retold by local people. According to one of these stories, Kaike Magars were the sons of a woman who had fled from an unspecified village of Kalyal kingdom. She subsequently gave birth to her child, a son. The boy, when he grew up, captured an angel while she was bathing with her friends. As time went by, the son and his angel bride had three sons. These were the ancestors of the Budha, Rokaya, and Gharti clan. The origin of the fourth major clan is different. One of the three sons was a shepherd who kept losing the same female goat every day, so one day he followed her when she wandered away from the rest of the herd. He discovered that she was giving her milk to a baby boy living in the hollow part of a bamboo tree. He brought the baby home. This boy grew up and became the ancestor of the Jhankri clan.[xxii]

Much strikingly, Michael Oppitz also has a similar type of story about the origin of the Northern Magar-Kham- of Rukum district. He relates the three stories of the origin of Magars expressed in different media—one in the written document, the second original story is oral but seemingly fixed wordings and the third version recounted in ad-hoc oral rendering by one Magar of Taka. The three versions agree about the divine or semi-divine origin of the present-day clans or tribal sub-groups of the Northern Magar. The common themes of the three versions differently told and yet the same, rotate around the origin of the first ancestors, their first alliances, the primeval migration movements in their homeland, the origins of agriculture, and of hunting.[xxiii]

 Anne de Sales also relates something similar on the origin of Kham Magars. She recounts that the “members of the same clan believe that they share a common ancestor and common geographical origin, which, determines clan exogamy.  Each of the four Kham Magar clans-Pun, Gharti, Bura, Rokka-it was known by a second geographical designation, which locates its ancient site of residence.[xxiv]

Though all of this information could serve to establish the origin and history, however, the mystic tales of these kinds can appease neither the anthropologists nor Magars themselves. Owing to the absence of any written history and that, Magars had left their place of origin so long ago that the traces, though surely present, are not yet as easy to pin down. Therefore, it is difficult now to unravel many of the specific aspects of their history.

Religion and culture

The Magars worship nature, idols, spirits, and supernatural beings. This actually points out the belief in the natural phenomenon. In the rural parts of Nepal, even today, we come across a Than (shrine)–little rectangular pieces of gobar or cow dung, on a platform, with a varying number of evenly spaced depressions in the top, such as might be made with the tip of a finger inside the house–besides a path track, beneath a tree, under a large stone, beside a water spring, or in the corner of irrigated fields.   Sometimes these platforms are uncovered, resting on a patch of earth that has been hardened and made smooth with a mixture of mud, cow dung, and water. Most of them are inside little “rooms” that are open in front and have been made with flat stones. On occasions, too, one sees a small pavilion with a conical thatched roof made of straw, about the height of a man.

These Than are some of the places where one can make contact with supernatural beings of a particular kind—Gham(sun), Jun(full moon),  Pani(water), Bayu(wind), Kuldevata(family god), Sim Bai(devi), Nag (serpent), Jhankari (hunter), Bhoot-Pret-Masan(ghost, spirit), Boskshi(witch), Bandevi(forest goddess)– the beings who mean most to the majority of people because they are the ones who are effective in their lives and really make a difference. Coming to terms with these beings is part of their lives. These are beings of the land and the forces controlling health, growth, and reproduction. These beings, which may be either male, Devta, or female, Devi, are referred to as deities who eat bhog or food–mostly the newly spilled blood of a sacrificial animal – mostly the bhale(a rooster), and quite often the boka(he-goat), and pada(young male buffalo), and Sungur(pig). On many occasions, people offer panchbali—the sacrifice of five animals at a time.

The Puja (prayers) are made at places where it is believed that the godling lives. The sacrifices almost always are made by a young kumar(unmarried) boy, called pujari, who bathes and puts on a clean loincloth. After cleaning the ground with cow dung and water, thus setting it apart and making it acceptable for a holy purpose, he winds dhaja (kerchiefs) around a stone and sets it upright to represent the godling being honored. The dhaja represent the godling’s new clothing. The basic rationale throughout the puja is doing things for the godlings that will be pleasing: clothing him, feeding him, and surrounding him with pleasant things like dhoop (incense) and flowers. It is important to do these things in a properly sanctified place, with rituals conducted by a person who has prepared himself by bathing and who has not yet lost the extra purity believed to belong to the unmarried. This latter quality is especially important to female godlings but is appreciated by the males as well.

After making a cow dung platform for food offerings and setting it before the stone, the pujari decorates the Than(shrine) with turmeric, rice flour, bits of colored cloth, and flowers. Offerings that are then placed in the holes of the cow dung platform include rice flour fried in butter, puffed rice, rice mixed with water and sage, and cow’s milk. The godling also is honored by offerings of flowers and by the presence of fire in the form of a mustard oil lamp in a copper container-diyo (oil lamp.)

Just before the sacrifice, the pujari makes an incense of butter and sage and prays for whatever boon he wishes, pointing out that he is about to offer a sacrifice. The animal to be offered is sanctified by putting water, rice, and sage on the head, the animal then shakes it head or body which is taken as a sign that the animal has given its consent to be sacrificed. Then only it is beheaded. The head is placed before the stone and the blood is spurted in the Than(shrine). After this, the pujari prepares tika by mixing the blood of the sacrificed animal with some rice and places this onto the foreheads of those present. He also receives tika by having one of the worshippers do the same for him. As a gift for the pujari’s services, he gets the head of the sacrificed animal and whatever food has been brought as an offering. The final act of puja is cooking and eating the sacrificed animal that now has been shared with the godling.

On the other hand  historically the Tarangpur (Dolpa) Magars – neither a full-fledge Hindu caste nor unalloyed Tibetan Buddhists, but always at the mercy of outsiders, who were one or the other had to defer, serially or simultaneously, to both Hindu and Buddhist sources of power, prestige, and influence.”[xxv] For Fisher, “Buddhism and Hinduism are historical accretions. The Magars and other Tibeto-Burman groups were apparently neither Buddhist nor Hindu originally.”[xxvi] Like tribes elsewhere in South Asia, the Magars of Tarangpur “live on the fringes on Hindu society, but unlike most of these other tribal peoples, they also live on the fringes of Buddhist society. Tarangpur is culturally convoluted, geographically isolated, and socially ingrown.”[xxvii]


i Witzel, Michael, “Nepalese Hydronomy,” Harvard University, July 12, 1991, p. 18 http://nipforum.org/nepalese_hydronomy.pdf.

ii Landon, Perceval, Nepal, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, Madras, 1993 (First Published 1928), p. 243

iii Marie Lecomte-Tilouine, “The history of the messianic and rebel king Lakhan Thapa Magar : Utopia and ideology among the Magar”, CNRS, Paris, This is an augmented version of an article published in EBHR 19, 2000. It was complemented by field data gathered in Lakhan Thapa’s village and I wish to express my gratitude to the villagers of this place (Kahule village, in Bungkot vdc, Gorkha district) for their warm welcome and their cooperation.

[iv] Hodgson, Brian H., Essays on the Languages, Literature, and Religion of Nepal and Tibet, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, Madras, 1991 (First Published 1874), Part II, p. 40

4Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, “Chetri caste of Nepal”, in Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, (Ed), Caste & Kin in Nepal, India & Ceylon, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 1978, p. 17

[vi] Christoph, op.cit.

[vii] Hitchcock, op.cit., p.4

[viii] Witzel, op.cit.

[ix] ibid

[x] http://reference.allrefer.com/country-guide-study/nepal/ancient nepal/

[xi] George and Louise Spindler, in  John T. Hitchcock, The Magars of Banyan Hill; Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966, Foreword, pp. vii-viii

[xii] Thapa Magar, M..S., Prachin Magar ra Akkha Lipi, Publisher Shrimati Durgadevi Thapa Magar, Briji Prakashan,(First Publication 2049, Second Publication 2059), p. 3

[xiii] Vansittart, Eden, The Gurkhas, (based upon the ‘Notes on Nepal’, 1895 AD and ‘Notes on Gurkhas’ 1890 AD), Anmol Publications, New Delhi, Re-print 1993, p. 6

[xiv] ibid, p. 184

[xv] Shepherd, Gary, Life with Magars, p. 11

[xvi] Landon, Perceval, Nepal, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, Madras, 1993 (First Published 1928), p. 243

[xvii] Hodgson, Brian H., Essays on the Languages, Literature, and Religion of Nepal and Tibet, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, Madras, 1991 (First Published 1874), Part II, p. 40

[xviii] Hitchcock, John T., The Magars of Banyan Hill; Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966,  p. 2

[xix] ibid p. 4

[xx] Das, Sarat C. (1902). Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet. John Murray, London, Albemarle Street

[xxi] Chemjong, Iman S. (2003). History and Culture of Kirat People (Fourth Edition). Lalitpur: Kirat Yakthung Chumlung [First edition 1967].

[xxii] Fisher, James F. , Trans-Himalayan Traders: Economy, Society, & Culture in Northwest Nepal, Motilal Banarasidass Publishers Pvt, Ltd., New Delhi, India, Reprint 1997, pp. 2-3

[xxiii] Oppitz, Michael,  “The Wild Boar and The plough: origin Story of the Northern Magar”, Kailash, Vol X, No. 3-4, Kathmandu, Nepal, 1983, pp. 187

[xxiv] Anne de Sales, “The Kham Magar Country, Nepal: Between Ethnic Claims and Maoism”, (translated by David N. Gellner), European Bulletin of Himalayan Research, 19: 41-72, 2000

[xxv] Fisher, James F. , Trans-Himalayan Traders: Economy, Society, & Culture in Northwest Nepal, Motilal Banarasidass Publishers Pvt, Ltd., New Delhi, India, Reprint 1997, pp. 2-3

[xxvi] ibid p. 208

[xxvii] ibid p.14

मगर अध्ययन केन्द्रकाे गतिविधि

विगत पन्ध्र वर्ष अघि देखि मगर अध्ययन केन्द्रले नेपाली समाजको विविध पक्षहरूमा गहन अध्ययन–अनुसन्धान गर्ने महत्वाकांक्षी लक्ष्य आगाडि सारेर कार्यान्वयनको मार्गमा हिडिरहेको छ । यसै अनुरुप प्रत्येक वर्ष ‘शोधमाला’ जर्नल तथा शोधमूलक पुस्तकहरू प्रकाशन गर्दै आइरहेको छ । यस पटक मगर जातिको उत्पत्ति, इतिहास, भाषा, संस्कृति, सामाजिक, आर्थिक तथा राजनैतिक क्षेत्रको अध्ययन–अनुसन्धानका लागि उपयोगी सामाग्री ‘नेपालका आदिवासी मगरः सन्दर्भ विवरणिका’ यहाँहरूको हातमा पु¥याउन सफल भएका छौं । प्रस्तुत पुस्तक प्रकाशनको आवश्यकता रहेको कुरा वि. सं. २०७२ माघ २९ गतेका दिन मगर अध्ययन केन्द्र र नेपाल प्रज्ञा–प्रतिष्ठानको संयुक्त कार्यक्रमको अवसरमा उठेको थियो । ‘मगर जातिको उत्पत्ति र नामाकरण’ विषयक उक्त कार्यक्रमको समापन पश्चात मगर अध्ययन केन्द्र र नेपाल प्रज्ञा–प्रतिष्ठानको सहकार्यमा ‘मगर अध्ययन समिति’ गठन गर्ने सल्लाह भएको थियो । सोही अनुरुप मगर अध्ययन केन्द्रका अध्यक्ष डा. गोविन्द प्रसाद थापाज्यूको संयोजकत्वमा प्रा. डा. जिवेन्द्रदेव गिरी, प्रा. डा. डिल्लीराज दाहाल, प्रा. डा. हेमाङ्गराज अधिकारी, प्राज्ञ दिनेशराज पन्त, प्राज्ञ विष्णु प्रभात, प्राज्ञ लोक बहादुर थापा, बमकुमारी बुढा, डा. मीन श्रीस, विष्णु कुमार सिङ्जाली र प्रतिभा पुन सदस्य रहने गरी एघार सदस्यीय ‘मगर अध्ययन समिति’ को गठन गरियो । समितिकोे पहिलो बैठकले मगर जातिको उत्पत्ति र इतिहासको अध्ययन अनुसन्धान थालनी गर्नु अघि एउटा सन्दर्भ विवरणिका तयार पार्ने निर्णय गरे बमोजिम यस कार्यको थालनी भएको हो । सीमित स्रोत–साधन र समयको परिधिभित्र रहेर पनि मगर अध्ययन केन्द्रले मगर जातिसँग सम्वन्धित विविध विषयमा लेखिएका सन्दर्भ सामग्रीहरूको टिप्पणी तथा सन्दर्भ सूची संग्रह गरी यो पुस्तकको आकार दिन सफलता प्राप्त गरेको छ । यस पुस्तकमा कतिपय सामग्रीहरू सजिलै उपलब्ध नहुने र उठाएका विषयहरूमा गम्भीर छलफलको आवश्यकता रहेका कारण पनि पाठकहरूको सुविधाका लागि सन्दर्भ विवरणिकाको आवश्यकता भन्दा बढी नै सूचनाहरू उद्धृत गरेर राखिएका छन् । यसबाट मगर जातिबारे अध्ययन–अनुसन्धान गर्ने शोधार्थीहरू र मगर जातिबारे बुझ्न चाहने सबैलाई सहयोग पुरयाउने छ ।

The language death in Nepal: The case of Indigenous People with reference to Magar Tongue

Pun, Min (2070 BS). The language death in Nepal: The case of
Indigenous People with reference to Magar Tongue. In Journal of
Indigenous Nationalities, Vol.13 No. 5, NFDIN, Jawlakhel, Lalitpur
Nepal. pp. 88-125
Annotation by: Gupta Bahadur Rana

Pun (2070 BS) has described disappearing and death of Magar language. Pun has mentioned about the origin of Magars taking references of earlier western scholar and socio-cultural situation and language. He has argued that, disaapearance of Magar language is due to power and state’s policy, modernization practices and changing
socio-ecomonc situation of Magars.

Multilanguage orthography for the languages of Nepal

Regmi, Bhim Narayan. (2018). Multilanguage orthography for the languages of Nepal. Gipan, 3:2. pp.157-174.
Annotation by: Bishnu Kumar Sinjali

Regmi (2018) has proposed a Devanagari based multilanguage orthography for languages of Nepal. He has traced the development of all the scripts used in Nepal except Roman and Arabic and argued that those scripts have the same historical root and the same guiding principles. All the scripts—either been developed locally or adapted but
Akkha—have been emerged from Brahmi while Akkha is just another name of Brahmi. He has got puzzled and raised a question why M. S. Thapa (Jhendi) Magar in his book entitled Akkha Lipi ra Magarharu (Akkha script and Magars), published in 2059 BS chose another name for the script instead of ‘Lichhavi’ as there were two favorable points for
this name: (1) Thapa himself claims that the Lichhavis are the Magars who used this script, and (2) Newars as well as other Nepali scholars working in the field of scripts have already used the term ‘Lichhavi’—instead of ‘Gupta’—as historical source of the Newari or Nepal Lipi.

 

पाल्पा राज्यको इतिहास

घिमिरे, विष्णुप्रसाद. (२०६९). पाल्पा राज्यको इतिहास. भाग १. दो. संस्क. चितवनः श्रीमती पद्मा घिमिरे ।
टिप्पणीः डा. मीन श्रीस मगर

आठ खण्ड र ३०१ पृष्ठ संख्या रहेको यस पुस्तकको पहिलो खण्डमा पाल्पा राज्यका ऐतिहासिक सामग्री, भौगोलिक स्थिति र जनजातिका वारेमा वर्णन गरिएको छ । गण्डकी माहात्यमा उल्लेख गरिएअनुसार मुकुन्द सेन प्रथमको
समयमा पाल्पा राज्यको सीमाना पूर्वमा वराहा क्षेत्रको अन्त्यसम्म (भारतको पूर्णिया, जलपाइगुडीसम्म), पश्चिममा रुरुक्षेत्र, उत्तरमा मुक्तिक्षेत्र (मुस्ताङ भोट) र दक्षिणमा हरिहरक्षेत्र (गंगा किनार, मुजहपुर र छपरा जिल्ला) सम्म
फैलिएको थियो । मगरात देशको नामले प्रसिद्ध पाल्पा भेगलाई मगरहरूकै आदि बासस्थान भएको र अन्य जातिका मानिसहरू पछि आएको मानिन्छ । प्राचीन सेन वंशावलीमा पाल्पाली सेनका पुर्खा अभय राणाले मकवानपुरका मगर राजा गजलक्ष्मणसिंहकी छोरी कान्तिमतीसँग र मुकुन्द सेन प्रथमले पार्कोटे मगर राजाकी छोरी सुवर्णमालासँग विधिवत विवाह गरेको उल्लेख गरिएकाले सेन र मगर समान जातिका जस्ता देखिन्छन् । यसैगरी काठमाडौंको केशर पुस्तकालयमा रहेको नारद स्मृतिमा पनि ‘मगर राजा मुकुन्द सेन’ भन्ने उल्लेख गरिएको पाइन्छ भनी यसै खण्डमा वर्णन गरिएको छ । दोस्रो खण्डको राजनैतिक शीर्षकमा पनि मगर जातिका बारेमा उल्लेख गरिएको छ । पाल्पा क्षेत्रका अनेक थुममा शासन गर्ने मगर मुखियाहरूलाई जितेर सेनवंशी शासन स्थापना भएको थियो । नारद
स्मृतिमा उल्लेख गरिएअनुसार पाल्पाका मगर राजा मुकुन्द सेन प्रथमले नेपाल उपत्यकामा चार पल्टसम्म आक्रमण गरेको कुरा यसै खण्डमा वर्णन गरिएको छ । खण्ड तीनमा प्रशासनिक व्यवस्था, खण्ड चारमा वैदेशिक सम्बन्ध, खण्ड पाँचमा समाज र संस्कृति, खण्ड ६ मा आर्थिक जीवन, खण्ड सातमा कला र  स्तुकला तथा खण्ड आठमा उपसंहार प्रस्तुत गरिएको छ । परिशिष्ट खण्डमा पाल्पाली सेन राज्यकालीन महत्त्वपूर्ण अभिलेखहरू राखिएको छ ।
वि.सं. २०३३ सालदेखि त्रिभुवन क्याम्पस पाल्पामा इतिहास विषय प्राध्यापन गर्ने क्रममा लेखक डा. विष्णुप्रसाद घिमिरेले यस पुस्तकको प्रथम संस्करण वि.सं. २०४५ सालमा तयार पार्नुभएको थियो । ऐतिहासिक पाल्पा राज्य
र मगर जातिका बारेमा अध्ययन अनुसन्धान गर्न चाहनेहरूका लागि यो पुस्तक एउटा महङ्खवपूर्ण सन्दर्भ सामाग्री हुने देखिन्छ ।

A MARGINAL CULTURE: THE MANGAR COMMUNITY IN THE EASTERN AND NORTHEASTERN HIMALAYAS

Fellow’s Presentation- MAKAIAS

Topic: A MARGINAL CULTURE: THE MANGAR COMMUNITY IN THE EASTERN AND NORTHEASTERN HIMALAYAS
Presenter: Dr. Nandini Bhattacharya Panda, Fellow, MAKAIAS
External Expert: Prof. Ranjana Roy, Retd. Professor and Emeritus Fellow, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Calcutta
Date: 02.11.2012 Time: 3.30 pm
Venue: Azad Bhavan, Salt Lake
Rapporteur: Arpita Basu, Researcher, MAKAIAS
Nandini Bhattacharya’s presentation was concerned with the current processes of the cultural reconstruction and the cultural perceptions of the Mangar community in the Eastern and Northeastern Himalayas. The principal objective of the paper was to define this tribe with its distinct cultural traits and components. She observed that the Mangar community was an important part in this ongoing process of cultural reconstruction and rejuvenation. She argued that the process of cultural regeneration had opened up a vast array of imaginations in the quest for a newly formulated identity. Dr. Bhattacharya’s paper was an analysis of how culture had been playing a multifarious role in shaping a distinct ethnic identity for the Mangar community. She tried to trace the process primarily in the Indian context. Nandini described the Mangar community as one of the marginal, backward and depressed hill communities in India with a liminal existence in the dominant cultural milieu. She argued that the marginal hill communities had enriched the pluralistic, multi-dimensional and composite cultural heritage in India. But at the same time the Mangar community had encountered the challenging task to resist the overwhelming infiltration of the dominant cultural forms persisting over several centuries. She observed that in the process of this unequal cultural encounter, the marginal communities had lost their cultural traits and heritage components very rapidly; that the process of the cultural reconstruction must be placed in that background. She observed that the cultural reconstruction of the Mangar community had a complex linkage with the political and economic aspirations of the people. Her primary aim was to analyse, document and chart the process of restructuring and refashioning of the cultural traits of the Mangar community, so that they qualify themselves to become a tribal community of the region. She felt that the entire exercise of cultural reconstruction of the Mangar community involved a process of creating and recreating their history on the basis of popular imagination and memory along with an interesting blending of myth, legend and history. She observed that different postulations and assumptions had been produced towards the quest for an original homeland of the Mangars and their geo-historic identity. But all these arguments had been trying to negate the diasporic status of the Mangar community. She depicted that the study of popular myth and legend would be an important part of her project for the purpose of understanding the efforts of the Mangar community to construct, recreate and to some extent invent the historic past in order to create an autonomous cultural domain. Dr. Bhattacharya finally concluded that it was not her intention to argue that the aspiration to get scheduled tribe status and the economic incentives were the sole motivating factor behind the cultural reconstruction. Rather she highlighted that the new aspiration had initiated the process of cultural reconstruction. This presentation was a modest attempt to explore the cultural imagination of the Mangar community and to analyse whether the construction of a separate cultural identity might ensure material and spiritual security in the long run.

Discussion Session

The external expert Prof. Ranjana Roy congratulated the presenter for her brilliant presentation and challenging work on such a dispersed community. She gave certain extremely valuable comments, observations and insights for the betterment of the paper. Prof. Roy advised the presenter to consult a book titled People of Nepal by Dor Bahadur Bista. She expressed that the paper was focussed on the marginality of the Mangar Community and the reconstruction of the culture of the Mangar community. The honourable expert commented on the historical background of the word ‘tribe’, ‘caste’ etc. She also mentioned that the tribal people had tendency to Hinduize themselves and their originality is embedded in their ritualistic behaviour. She cited examples of the Mangar, the Lepcha and the Bhumija tribes. Prof. Roy commented that these tribal communities had attempted to de-tribalize in order to merge into the main stream community by converting into Christianity for economic gain from the British during pre-independence period whereas presently the Mangars are trying to re-tribalize to get the status of Scheduled Tribe instead of being Other Backward Classes. The honourable expert also advised the presenter to find out the practice of Sacred Grove concept and the original language of the Mangars. She advised the presenter to incorporate some empirical data in her presentation.

Comments and observations from the floor highlighted at the following issues:

— Discussion was carried out on the similarity of the musical instruments used by the Mangars and those prevalent in the Pamir Region.

— Question was raised on the theories of the origin of the Mangar Community.

— A question was raised on the interrelationship between the Lepchas and the Mangars.

— Discussion was carried on the cultural reconstruction of the Lepchas which was the model to the Mangar community for their cultural reconstruction.

— A question regarding the presence of caste discrimination among the Mangars was raised

 

Cultural Reconstruction of a Marginal Community: The Manger Community of in the Eastern and North eastern Himalayas

Project: Cultural Reconstruction of a Marginal Community: The Manger Community of in the Eastern and North eastern Himalayas

Draft Chapter

Religion, Faith and Beyond: Uneasy Transition from Hindu to Tribal Identity

Situated within a larger about the recent process of cultural reconstruction of the Mangar (or Magar) community in the Eastern and North Eastern Himalayas, this article focuses on the appropriation of religion and faith in the context of Sikkim and Darjeeling. The study is conducted on the basis of my field study in different parts of Darjeeling district, Sikkim, Duars in the Jalpaiguri district and bordering areas of Bhutan between 2012 and 2014. Due to unavailability of archival sources, the study is primarily based on dialogue, reminiscence, memorised speech, historical gossips, personal tradition, tales, proverbs, sayings and scattered discursive literature. The term ‘marginal’ is used in this study with multiple references, for example, the adverse numerical ratio, displaced ethno-cultural imagination, liminal social existence and no political representation in the Indian democratic set up.

Displacement of the marginal communities in India is a debated issue now and before. Marginal communities have been losing their tradition, cultural traits, language, aesthetics and memories of their past and the issues are integrally related to the growing process of urbanisation and industrialization. The resistance the marginal ethnic groups against the mainstream encroachment on their livelihood, tradition and mores does not always reach the public knowledge. This study is situated in this background of displacement and resistance. The displacement for the Mangar community did not occur overnight. It took place through a long historical passage of invasion, migration, colonisation, urbanization, sanskrisation and homogenization. Maginalisation is the end product of all those processes – occurring sometime  in historical sequences and at other times simultaneously. By the middle of 20th century the Magar community lost their cultural memory of the historic past and their distinct ethnic identity. This study is undertaken as a case study to narrate the endeavour of a marginal community to reclaim their past and reconstruct cultural symbols towards relocating their identity from a peripheral Hindu or Hinduised community to a ‘tribal’ ethnic group. At present, the Mangar community belongs to the OBC category.

The identity shift and the process of cultural reconstruction had been initiated from Darjeeling in the 1980s. It was the part of a momentum created by the former political leader, Subhas Ghising, the GNLF leader and former political administrator of Darjeeling district. The entire process started in the trail of a political movement against the Government of West Bengal to create Gorkhaland state carving the hill districts of Darjeeling in North Bengal. He temporarily underplayed the demand for a separate state and motivated the ethnic groups to attain tribal status. Accordingly, he instructed them to submit tribal / ethnic bio-data to qualify for ST status. Like many other communities, Mangar community engaged themselves in tracing their tribal past for the prospect of a better future. Subsequently, the message has spread across different regions including Sikkim, Assam and other regions in India. The cultural politics have now merged with an identity movement. The material gaze of the people towards ensuring a better living had been further stimulated by a nostalgic gaze with the anxiety and hope to create an ethnic niche within the pluralistic democracy in India.

The Hindu Past

As it is evident from my field trips in Sikkim, Darjeeling and Bhutan, the process of cultural reconstruction of this community hinges on the following aspects: (a) religion, (b), ethnic origin and homeland, (c) language, (d) food and cuisine, (e) sartorial aspects, (f) tangible and intangible heritage and (g) popular myth and historical legend. The cultural sites have been producing a contested domain in the life and imagination of the people. This paper will focus on the changing religious perceptions of the people in the cultural / identity politics of the Mangar community in the regions under study.

There is hardly any source to ascertain the period when the Mangar community found an entry in the Hindu order or whether at all they could ensure any cognizance from the mainstream body. The ethno-historic origin of the Mangar community is now subjected to various genealogical postulations. Among many of such, extant literature refers to the Gandaki basin on Arun river region as the original habitat of the Manger community. The community migrated from there and settled in different regions in Nepal and also migrated to Sikkim, Darjeeling, Bhutan and other regions in India. However, origin and homeland is no longer a simple story for this community and this aspect is beyond the purview of this paper. It had been suggested by some scholars that the Mangar community adopted Hindu religious trait due to their close proximity to the Hindu community. I will try to trace the ethnic past of the Magar community during my field trip in Nepal to derive insights about the complex historical process of cultural inferiorisation, homogenisation and acculturation by acquiring a Hindu identity.

In the Indian context, the Mangar community briefly appeared in the colonial ethnography as “Nepalese immigrants’, ‘agricultural tribe’ and ‘brave soldiers’ sometime with the mentioning of their faith as Hindu. In fact, the British rulers were most concerned about the army potential in this particular community. The Mangars also constituted the highest number in the Gorkha Regiment of the British and recipient of highest number of Victoria Cross. For centuries, the hill communities of in the Himalayan region remained the ‘objects’ in the colonial ethnographic or anthropological literature. These people had been subjected to represent the ‘savage’ and ‘barbaric’ component of the Indian population in contrast to the superior and civilised west or feminized Bengalis. The hill people in the Eastern and North Eastern Himalayas perfectly fitted into their paradigmatic model of uncivilised, barbaric, primitive yet brave and loyal soldiers to defend the ‘civilised’ human race. Long apathy and indifference of the state had been a major factor behind leaving the marginal communities in the hills, in this context the Mangars, in the twilight zone of anonymity – a human race without moorings and roots.

The cultural displacement occurred at other levels too. Some educated and upper class leaders who were mostly Hindu immigrants from Nepal mobilized a linguistic movement in Darjeeling harking on the concept of Gorkhali nationhood as counterfoil to colonial domination. The unified stand was expressed through the rhetoric of Gorkhali ekarupata (unified Gorkha identity). The British rulers used the term Gorkha to refer to the all the Nepalese immigrants in their territory irrespective of their ethnic status and cultural distinctions. The term – Gorkha – is still popularly used to describe a Nepali speaking person in India. This process had started in Darjeeling around the beginning of 19th century and eventually the movement spread to other Eastern and North eastern Himalayan region and also Nepal. Subsequently, as is well known, the movement took a political turn during the end of the 20th century as Gorkhaland movement.

The basic idiom of this linguistic-cum political movement was development of vernacular Nepali language. It subsumed the language and ethno-cultural traits of the individual communities to produce a uniform linguistic / cultural order. Like other communities, the Mangar community was also subjected to this homogenization process. The elite leaders produced grammar, creative literature and most importantly translation / rendering of the Hindu epics and Puranic texts. Bhanu Bhakta Ramayan is the best example of this genre of literary work. It implies that an educated Nepali would derive cultural imagination from classical Hindu tradition and others would draw lessons from acculturated and informed members from within the community.

British and Indian Army is yet again the breeding ground of the cultural homogenization / hybridity of the Mangar community. The ex-Army personnel in the India army and some elderly gentlemen in British Army, especially from West Bengal, (for example Shittong in Darjeeling, Chhibo Busty in Kalimpong, Palashbari in Siliguri, Mongpu and other places) narrated their experiences about indoctrination to Hindu cultural practices. The Mangar community sacrifice pig and fowl to perform their traditional ritual and it is a taboo among the Hindus. The god-believing and God-fearing Mangar soldiers with the strong urge to offer their pray to the almighty for protecting their lives in the war field and blessing their distant family members were gradually inducted to Hindu religious practices and started sacrificing goats instead of pigs and fowls. Gradually, they started believing (or made to believe) that Hindu deities are superior to their ‘lesser’ gods. In the process, they transmitted their newly found faith, conviction and elated identity to their family members. The Manger families started appointing Brahmin priests by replacing the traditional counterparts – the wapa.

The Mangar community started celebrating Durga Puja, especially Dasera (they call the occasion as dasain in the local language), Kali Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Saraswati Puja and other female deities. They put tika made of rice and yogurt on their forehead during the auspicious occasions – a practice followed by upper class Nepali Hindus. They celebrate Bhai Duj – a typically Hindu custom. During my field trips in town Dajeeling and Kalimpong, Shittong in Darjeeling, Chhibo Busty in Kalimpong, Payong Busty in Alagara, Kalimpong, Golma tea garden and Palash Busty in Siliguri, Birpara and Lankapara in Duars, Jalpaiguri and even in bordering areas of Bhutan, majority of the people – irrespective of gender – spontaneously proclaimed themselves as Hindu as against my query about their religious faith. The only exception is Sikkim. This paper is situated in this backdrop.

De-Hinduisation and Retribalisation Process

The ‘retribalisation’ process of the Mangar community since the end of the 20th century has created a unique situation in Indian cultural scenario – past and present. The social theorists have talked about ‘Hinduisation’, ‘acculturation’ and ‘sanskritisation’ of the lower / marginal order (including some of the tribal communities) broadly within Hindu hierarchical structure. The present transition, however, indicates a significant reverse trend in the socio-cultural dynamics within India.

Religion constitutes the most crucial agenda since the inception of the movement because the cultural politics is all about the shift from Hindu to tribal identity. The anxiety of the people is evident in the dialogic exchanges, cultural pursuits and sensitization endeavour. As it is evident from the field trips, the passage of transition is complex and tricky due to the uneven level of consciousness of the people belonging to the community in different regions. For example, the Mangar leaders in Sikkim proclaim that the Hinduised traits are more poignant among the Mangar community of Darjeeling. The Mangar community in Darjeeling asserts that they always retained their ancestral religion although in a less pronounced or dormant manner. The Mangar leaders in Duars region express their frustration about lack of access to newly emerged knowledge about religion and other issues. Again, the Manger community in Bhutan is compelled to follow the dominant Buddhist religion of the state. The theocratic regime in Bhutan does not allow the autonomy to the minority/marginal communities to express their belief in any other religion – as had been stated by the Mangar residents in Bhutan. In sum, the religious spectre for the Mangar community during the current transitional phase is complex and confusing.

Darjeeling Town

The transition from Hindu to tribal identity was initially conceived in Darjeeling, as has been already mentioned. In late 1980s, being inspired by the pledge of Subhas Ghishing to ensure tribal status for all the hill communities of Darjeeling, some informed members of this community started revising their ethnic bio-data to qualify for obtaining the tribal status. An Association was formed that comprised members from the entire district called Akhil Bharatiya Mangar Association. The work of revision started with enormous confusion and contestation. As for religion, the controversy dwelled on ancestral ritual, mode of sacrificing animal, rejection of Brahminical priest and reinstatement of the wapas to perform the rituals, the sacred and the auspicious. The leader took a long time to prepare a preliminary draft. The primary reason for the confusion, as may be understood from their past practices, that the people lost their memory about their culture, tradition and most importantly past religious practices. The confusion, controversy and disagreement led to the formation two other Mangar Associations in Darjeeling district – Mangar Sangh and Mangar Sangh Bharat. The members of those three Associations have been pursuing parallel operations on similar issues the central concern of which is securing the tribal status. They still disagree on nitpickings, for example, the mode of sacrifice, the day of a ritual etc.

I closely interacted with two young leaders of Mangar Sangh Bharat from Darjeeling town – Rajesh Thapa and Gyanendra Thapa since 2009. Rajesh is a teacher in English in a premier convent school. Gyanendra – a computer expert, after trying his hand in different entrepreneurship projects now owns a construction company. Gyanendra seems to be less active nowadays relating to the ethnic issues. They were very critical of the members of two other Associations and viewed them as rival camp. Rajesh claims the he regularly visits the Mangar community in Nepal to derive the authentic tradition of the people. In October 2012, Mangar Sangh Bharat organized a big event comprising representative from Sikkim, Nepal different parts of Darjeeling to discuss the ethnicity issues and course of action to expedite the religious perception of the people. Rajesh did not share much information about the discussion in the event. I last met Rajesh in January 2013. He told me that he and his fellow friends are contemplating about conversion to Buddhism. The primary objective behind this conversion would be to ensure minority status from Government of India. It seems that Rajesh and his friends could not make much progress towards Buddhist conversion of his community.

Shittong 2 Village               

I paid at least three visits to Shittong 2 village which is exclusively inhabited by the Mangars. Ratan Thapa, a leading member of Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha and his family members live from this village. The last visit was undertaken in January 2013. This village is known for playing a role model in the changing religious perceptions and practices. They have introduced ancestral worship and animistic rituals instead of Hindu rituals and replaced the Brahmins by the Wapas – the traditional priests on the occasions like marriage, birth and funeral. Mr. B. B. Thapa, the head master of the local primary school and one of the most respected cultural leaders among the Mangar community in Darjeeling explained to me about the traditional faith and ancestral worship. He took me to a nearby place on the top of a hill and showed me a number of stones in the size of Shiva linga. He narrated that the stones symbolize different matters in nature – air, water, fire, wind, mountain, spring, forest, legendary king and queen and finally life cycle of an individual. He told me that the Mangar people chant during the ritual of offering prayer before the stones and they are not supposed to tell the meaning of the chanting to an outsider. It is the holy secret of the community. He took me near a holy tree which they call Gangsing tree. The leaves of the tree are bitter and he had shown me that no insect even an ant does not go near the tree and according to him it proves the holiness of the tree. Mr. Thapa is otherwise a rational man as was evident from his views and activities in other aspects. He regularly organises sports in the school as he stresses that it would enhance the strength and agility of the children. He stressed that the Mangar community in Darjeeling requires a contingent of enterprising and informed members to instill consciousness among the poor, illiterate and mute people who unable to speak for themselves. He also admitted that most of the people have forgotten the ancestral tradition and culture. He urged on reviving the religion and faith as this, in his view, would offer the people a sense of belonging of their own culture and at the same time facilitate the attainment of tribal status.

I made at least three visits to Shitting 2 village over past five years. The members of village extended warm hospitality to me. I should mention in this context that the female members of the village were shy to talk to me about the cultural issues and the new consciousness. The male members dismissed my intention to talk to the women and told me that they are always engaged in household and rearing children. They do have neither time nor imagination to pay attention to such matters. The ladies silently endorsed the statement (or did not) of the male members with weak nods.

Kalimpong Town

It seems that the members of Akhil Bharatiya Mangar Association in Kalimpong have been playing an active role in reviving the ancestral culture and religious traits. The names of two person should be specially mentioned here – Bhanu Thapa and Bharat Thapa. Bhanu takes leading part in organising ritualistic events and disseminating the new consciousness among people outside Kalimpong and Darjeeling. It is like an entrepreneurship venture for him. He is a trainer on vermin composting and also a LIC agent. He travels various places including in the Duars region. He carries the cultural message along with his business trips. In Kalimpong, the Mangars have revived certain rituals which were lost from the memory of the people. For last ten years, Bhanu, Bharat and few other members are organising Brah-Mi-Jong festival in Chhibo Busty, in the neighbourhood of Kalimpong town. The organisers invite fellow people from different parts of Darjeeling to participate in the event. They are also performing Udouli and Ubhouli which are essentially worshipping the river during the upstream and downstream flow in different times of the year. They also call it Khola puja which means river worship. The memories of such rituals slipped from the memory of the people for a long time. They wear traditional dress during the festive occasion. In recent time, the informed members in Kalimpong no longer appoint Hindu Brahmins to preside over occasions such as marriage or funeral and also some ritualistic practices as was done few years ago. Bhusals or Wapas are invited to perform the ceremonies. They have also revived the custom of engaging son-in-laws to perform funeral ceremonies which used to be an old custom among the Mangar community.

Chhibo Busty

I went to Lower Chhibo Busty in January 2013 and this was not my first visit. The village consists of a large number of Magar families. Their primary occupation is agriculture and farming and a few among them are ex-Army personnel. To my pleasant surprise, on my last visit in January 2013, the ladies of the village were eagerly waiting to interact with me about their own culture and tradition. They insisted that they should talk to me first before the gentlemen as they would have to cook the community lunch for the villagers (including me). I followed their advice accordingly.

Bhanu Thapa always told me that the Mangar residents of Lower Chhibo Busty are informed and conscious about the recent developments. He had to face utter disappointment after the interactive session. Indeed, the gentleman stressed on the tribal characteristics of their community in respect of their religion, language, food, dress, song, dance and music. But it appeared that religion is still a twilight zone or in a phase of transition. For example, they cited Durga Puja, Dasai, Kali Puja, Saraswati Puja, Ganesh Puja and Lakshmi Puja (Hindu festivals) as their own festival in addition to Baisakhi and Mangsiri Pune. In response to Bhanu’s frustration (as he regularly conducts cultural awareness programme in this village), some of them admitted that they became virtually detached from their culture and tradition for a long time. They are now engaged in reviving the tradition and it would take some time. They told us that they abandoned the practice appointing Brahmin priest on social occasions such birth, marriage and funeral and inviting Bhusals and Wapas to perform the jobs.

Payong Busty, Alagarah, Kalimpong

Payong Busty in Alagara has large Mangar settlements in and around the locality. My interaction with the villagers was organised in a community hall inside the village. Female participation in the interactive session was almost equal in number with men. A sizeable number of gentlemen from the locality have army background. The level of consciousness is meagre for both men and women although Bhanu Thapa and some other members of Akhil Bharatiya Mangar Sangha have been active in generating consciousness among the people in this locality.

It was evident from my interaction with them that most people in the locality are basically drawn into the reconstruction process by the incentive of ST status. No person in the meeting could articulate about the issues involved with the revivalist trend and also the emerging knowledge about the old tradition. They have slightest clue about what others mean by the old tradition and ancestral region. The villagers still follow the practice of engaging Brahmins to perform social and religious ceremonies. One among them stated: “we follow the guidance and instruction of the Brahmins in every matter”. Hindu rituals are followed (through adaptation, indeed) almost in every household although a few among those ladies attended Barah-mi-jong celebration in Chhibo Busty. Almost all the ladies unhesitatingly expressed their conviction that they are Hindus and pride for being a Hindu. Bhanu Thapa could not conceal his embarrassment. He advised them to develop more interest in the ancestral tradition, religion and ritualistic components for the interest of the community.

Mongpu

I met a few gentlemen in Mongpu who are ex-servicemen in the Indian Army and service-holders in different government departments. The gentlemen were quite keen to know about the ongoing cultural / religious transition rather than inform me about the perceived cultural change. I clearly explained to them about the purpose behind my visit. Gyanendra and Rajesh also elaborately discussed about the changing ethnic imagination of the Mangar community which is integrally linked with obtaining the tribal status.

Sikkim

The nature of cultural politics is different in Sikkim. The government has been fixing its eye to secure the status of tribal state and has been playing a proactive role in generating ethnic sensitivity. Religion and ritual is given a very crucial role in the changing ethnic practices and state supports and sponsors such events for almost all the ethnic communities Sikkim including the Mangars. The present government has adopted the policy of declaring state holidays on the festive days of most ethnic communities. For example, Barah-mi-jong which is the most popular festival for the Mangar community is declared as a state holiday.

The Mangar community in Sikkim is moving with a direction for the presence of cultural leaders like Santosh Allay Mangar, organizers like Bishnu Rana and political leaders like D. B. Thapa, Manita Thapa et al.

Mangar Association in Sikkim

The Mangar Association in Sikkim is an ethnic body, but integrally connected to the body politic of the state. The President of the Mangar Association is Mr. Achal Thapa. I had the opportunity to interact with three prominent members of this Association – Mr. D. B. Thapa, Ms. Manita Thapa and Mr. Bishnu Rana. D. B. Thapa is the former Minister in Urban Development Affairs of the state of Sikkim. Manita is a former M. L. A. and now primarily in charge of mobilizing women’s support for the ruling party. Bishnu is a teacher of Mangar language in a state school and editor of the quarterly journal – Sikkim Herald in Mangar language. The role of Santosh Allay Mangar, an important member of the Mangar Association, cultural leader and ethnic ideologue should be mentioned in this context. He is in the state government service known and respected as a poet, a writer and the historian of Mangar community. Apart from his books on poem, he already wrote a monograph in Nepali language on the heritage sites of the Mangar community in Sikkim. He has completed a larger book on “Tradition, past and History of the Mangar Community”. He has already finished the manuscript in Nepali and engaged someone to translate in English. He hopes to publish the book in bi-lingual version. He assumes active role in ethnic, cultural and religious events of the Mangar community in Sikkim.

Suldung

I was invited to attend Bara-mi-jong festival in Sikkim in January 2013. The role of the state was quite revealing on that occasion. This important Mangar festival was organized in a remote village called Suldung in west Sikkim. Mr. Santosh Allay – the noted intellectual and poet within the Magar community practically conducted the event. He explained at length about the significance and ritualistic aspects of the festival to the crowd assembled in the school ground. This intervention by Santosh Allay must be noted because majority of the participants seemed to be unaware of the cultural significance to the participants. For me, feedback from a few language teachers and the Bhusals (Mangar priests) in the interactive sessions and questionnaire sheets had been quite helpful. However, Santosh Allay’s annotations are, however, most insightful and enlightening. Barah is explained as ‘ancestors’ who are considered as God. That is why the ritual is called kul-pitr-puja (worshipping of the clan and ancestors). Mi means minat or worship. Jong means fort or palace (of the kings/queens). Allay offered more elaborate meaning and symbolic significance of the ritual. According to him, Barahi means all ancestors and the invisible omnipotent creator. Mi is minat or prayer. Jong is the place which provides security and safety to the people. Therefore, the ritual signifies the occasion when the Mangar community worships departed souls of their ancestors and the almighty creator to seek blessing for the well being of their community and the entire human race. It should be noted here that historical / mythical queen of the Mangars is specially offered a prayer for her heroic feat of killing thousand Tibetan soldiers for defending her kingdom after the assassination of her husband in the hands of the Tibetan soldiers.

Allay explained the myth and belief behind the ritual. The Mangar people believe that their ancestors keep constant vigil on their successors and their soul live in the respective houses although invisibly after death. They look after the material prosperity, good harvesting, good health and well being of their children and protect from famine, ill health and other misfortune. The festival takes place in each year after the end of the autumn season after the harvesting is over. The people offer offers all kinds of crops in small amount to their forefathers to express their respect and gratitude for good harvesting that would ensure good fortune. On this occasion, everyone smears small ‘tika’ (dot) of sweet potato on the forehead and eat a piece either raw or roasted. After this ritual, the younger members of the family pay respect to their elders and start the ritualistic prayer/worship.

Allay further added that the ritual had been celebrated by the Mangar community for time immemorial. Pigs, goats/sheep, and at times fowls are sacrificed as offerings to the Kul-Pitr and almighty. However, fowl sacrifice is usually a peculiar custom among certain clans (he used the word ‘sub-caste’) within the community. Allay and the Bhusals mentioned that this was earlier celebrated within families or in small localities.  For last one decade, it has become almost a public event. It was specifically mentioned that Pawan Chamling, the Chief Minister of Sikkim took initiative to introduce the celebration on a large scale with the objective of increasing ethnic awareness among the people. The event is event attended by the Mangar community from Darjeeling. Barah-mi-jong is celebrated as Kul puja in other regions beyond Sikkim and Darjeeling where the community lives in large settlements.

The festival was sponsored by the state, as it appeared and was directly involved with the event. The occasion was graced by several political personalities including the Ministers, Members of Legislative Assembly and local leaders. It was rather evident that the presence of the political figures and direct involvement of the state may have both positive and negative implications. The intervention of the state instills renewed vigour and confidence among the Mangar community to look back in the blurry past – the past which was hardly given cognizance over past centuries.

It was quite evident that it was a very exciting and inspiring occasion for the Mangar community in this remote village and also other fellow community members living in the locality. The big lunch for so many people was prepared by the villagers who are otherwise used to a mundane existence. Awards and cash prizes were offered to the artists, performers and creative writers. This gesture is meant to boost the morale of the people to preserve and protect the tradition and also attract the younger generation to learn and sustain it. On the other hand, the overpowering presence of the state on such occasions restricts the autonomy of the people in the cultural pursuits. Culture, religion and faith become tied with compulsions and dictates.

Unfortunately, the enthusiasm of the state is not quite reflected in the crucial aspect of protecting and preserving heritage sites for the Mangar community. Suldung Gari ruins of an old Mangar fort is situated very close to Suldung village. I already noticed in 2009 that part of the site was occupied by the Rai community to use it as their graveyard. Some recently inscribed Tibetan religious place were also lying there. I revisited the place in February 2014. I found that the Rai graveyard had been expanded substantially by occupying more space. In addition, the Tibetan community constructed ritualistic fire oven in the prime location of the ruin – on the top of the hill. The local people who accompanied me to the ruins expressed their frustration and dismay that sooner the ruin would be known as a Tibetan ritualistic site. The local Mangars drew attention of the state through written petition to: (a) protect and preserve the site, (b) to treat the location as the heritage site of the Mangars. The state did not respond their appeal and take necessary action.       

Mangsari Mangar Jong

My trips to Mangsari Magar Jong were specifically meant for visiting an important heritage site of the Mangar community. The Jong is in ruins as I noticed in 2009. Most of the area was occupied by two Tamang brothers for cultivation and farming. In 2009, we spotted a small chunk of stone on the top of the hill and we were told this stone was regularly worshipped by the local Mangars.

I revisited the spot again in February 2014. I found that particular stone and the rubbles went covered under tall bamboo bushes. No one comes to pay their respect to the historic king and queen as they area is completely under the possession of the Tamang brothers. The inhabitation in the hill has increased to a great extent. The stones and rubbles from the ruined sited are used by the newly settled people for various purposes. Mangsari Mangar Jong is neither holy nor historic to the new generation. Only a few people from older generation retained their memory about the past history of the place.

Kaytyeng Jong or Ghanti Dnara

I visited Katyeng Jong in West Sikkim first in 2009 and then in February 2014. This village is an exclusive Manger settlement. The Jong is popularly known as Ghanti Dnara. Ghanti means bell and Dnara means hill. In Katyeng site a bell is hanging from a large tree above the ruins of the Jong. The residents of Katyeng village told us that the tree is very old and the bell was hanging there since the Jong was constructed. They also mentioned that the original bell was stolen long ago and that bell much larger in size. The villages replaced the bell and the size became smaller.

The site in Katyeng village is popularly known as Jong. But it is not a Jong or fort. The local people told about the historical myth that it was the worshipping place of the chief queen of Raja Buddhibal, one of the powerful Mangar kings. The actual fort is situated down below the hill and the place is now infested with jungle. The villagers told us that the ruin is still there but the place is virtually inaccessible to the common people. Another war story is associated with this place. They told us that Buddhibal was defeated by the Tibetans and was killed. His head was chopped and was thrown away in a far off place. They have no idea about what happened to the queen/s. The villagers speculate that the relatives and other residents in the fort were either killed or they fled from the battle ground. The villagers told us a myth that the king of Suldung Gari threw an arrow. It came to the fort in Katyeng and was stuck in a bamboo bush. It was long way from Suldung Gari to Katyeng. However, the residents of Katyeng village told us that the arrow-stuck bamboo tree started growing upside down ever since which means the rooting is growing from above and the branches underneath the soil. They claimed that the tree is still there and many eyewitnesses who have seen that bamboo tree. However, no eyewitness was present there.

Katyeng has been a sacred place for the Mangar community for a long time. They worship the chief queen of Raja Buddhibal in this site. Now, other communities also visit this place as a sacred site. We could identify some inscribed stones in Nepali language. In addition a few ‘Trishul’ (weapon of Lord Shiva with three edged spear) was kept in the site. The space is now gradually becoming a site of mixed religious practices and the Manger community is now losing their historic claim over this place.

Duars

In February 2014 I visited two locations in Duars tea garden area in Jalpaiguri – Lankapara and Birpara and observed marked contrast in the perceptions and attitude of the community in two almost adjacent localities.

The Mangar community in Lankapara appeared to be more conscious and receptive to the new ideas. Asoke Thapa, the leader of the village explained to us about how they are adopting new religious traits by rejecting the Hindu counterpart. He already introduced the celebration of  traditional Mangar rituals, especially Bara-mi-jong along with Maghe Sankranti, Purne, Pitr Puja and others. They hardly participate in Durga Puja festival. In the day of Dasain, they sacrifice pigs and fowls (sacrifice is called ‘Mar”) and claim that this ritual has nothing to do with the Hindu festival. They celebrate Bara-mi-jong as a local public event and people from the neighbouring areas attend this festival. The discussion was concluded with their concern about obtaining the ST status. But the villagers admitted that although they organise Bara-mi-jong and other rituals but they have little knowledge about the significance of the occasions being people living in the peripheries. Nevertheless, the Mangars of lankapara expressed their keen desire to revive and be informed about their virtually lost their memory and ethnic tradition.

The Birpara community is totally confused about the religious faith. Some of them mentioned that Mangars are Hindus. For example, they celebrate Dasain and apply tika on their forehead on that occasion. Married daughter also visit parental houses during Dasain. They are specially applied tika of rice grains mixed with yogurt. This is particularly a Hindu Nepali custom. Like the Nepalese Hindus, they also observe Kali Puja (Diwali), Deusi (a game) and Bhaile (putting tika on brother’s forehead) – the latter tradition is observed throughout Bengal, other parts of India and among upper castes in Nepal. Bishnu Rana and Bhanu Thapa who accompanied me in this trip respectively from Gangtok and Kalimpong assured the villagers of Birpara to provide more information and lessons on the recent ethnic transition.

Borderning Areas of Bhutan (Paglu Bhutan)

A marked difference was observed between the Mangar community in Bhutan and other places during my visit to Paglu Bhutan in February 2014 and the difference is fundamental. The Mangar community in Bhutan is not allowed to pursue their cultural / religious traits in the public space. This stricture is imposed on all the ‘Nepalese’ communities in Bhutan. I visited D. B Rana’s house where other families from the nearby area also participated in the discussion. None is aware of the recent movements and the changing cultural perceptions in other regions. Some of them though participate in the Barah-mi-jong festival organized in Lankapara without having much idea about the religious occasion and significance of organizing it in the recent time. The families present in the discussion consider the Mangar community belonging to Hindu religious group. In the end, the older members of the families expressed their anxiety and concern that their children will forget the culture, tradition and root.

The story of the cultural reconstruction of the Mangar community in the Eastern and North Eastern Himalayas is about anxiety, hope and belonging. It is about instrumentality of ‘culture’ in the life and imagination of the people and its appropriation in achieving ethnic identity and material security. It is a journey to go back to the past for looking forward to the future.

‘भाषामा अराजकता चल्दैन’

‘भाषामा अराजकता चल्दैन’

वैशाख २४, २०६९कान्तिपुर संवाददाता

काठमाडौ — प्रा. बालकृष्ण पोखरेल नेपाली भाषाका ज्येष्ठ-श्रेष्ठ साधक हुन् । विराटनगरमा बस्दै आएका ७९ वर्षीय पोखरेलका ‘उकुसमुकुस,’ ‘तेस्रो एकमुखे रुद्राक्षको खोजी,’ ‘मलाई गयल नपार,’ ‘तेरा कुरा इस्’ सहित भाषा-साहित्यका प्रायः सबै विधाका दर्जनौं कृति प्रकाशित छन् । ‘खस जातिको इतिहास’ आफ्नो क्षेत्रको अहिलेसम्मकै गुरूगम्भीर कृति हो, नेपाली भाषा-साहित्यका लागि महतम उपलब्धिहो ।

प्रा. बालकृष्ण पोखरेल नेपाली भाषाका ज्येष्ठ-श्रेष्ठ साधक हुन् । विराटनगरमा बस्दै आएका ७९ वर्षीय पोखरेलका ‘उकुसमुकुस,’ ‘तेस्रो एकमुखे रुद्राक्षको खोजी,’ ‘मलाई गयल नपार,’ ‘तेरा कुरा इस्’ सहित भाषा-साहित्यका प्रायः सबै विधाका दर्जनौं कृति प्रकाशित छन् । ‘खस जातिको इतिहास’ आफ्नो क्षेत्रको अहिलेसम्मकै गुरूगम्भीर कृति हो, नेपाली भाषा-साहित्यका लागि महतम उपलब्धि हो । नेपाली भाषामा हिज्जेबारे बहस चर्किरहेका बेला उनले ललितपुरमा हालै सार्वजनिक ‘नेपाली कसरी शुद्ध लेख्ने ? -हिज्जे विचार, २०६९’ (नेकशुले) को अगुवाइ गरे । यही सन्दर्भमा उनीसँग कान्तिपुरका लागि पारस नेपालले गरेको कुराकानीको अंश:

नयाँ ‘नेकशुले’ जारी गर्न किन आवश्यक पर्‍यो ?
पुरानो नेकशुलेलाई पुरानो भनेर, हेपेर, अहिले नेकले (नेपाली कसरी लेख्ने) मात्रै भनेर लेखकहरू जथाभावी अनेकौँ विकल्पमा जान थाले । पुरानोले कुनै भाँडभैलो मच्चाएको थिएन । कुनै पत्रिका वा समाचारपत्रले एउटा विकल्प अँगालेको थियो, अर्कोले अर्को वैकल्पिक बाटो रोजेको थियो । त्यसले नेपाली भाषा-व्याकरणमा कुनै नकारात्मक प्रभाव पारेको थिएन । तर एक-डेढ वर्ष भयो, एकाएक पाठ्यक्रम विकास केन्द्र, जनक शिक्षा सामग्री केन्द्र इत्यादिले दुईचार जनालाई नै नेपालका सर्वेसर्वा ठानेर उनीहरूको लेखन पद्धतिलाई, एउटा मात्रै विकल्पलाई आँखा चिम्लेर अँगाले । त्रिभुवन विश्वविद्यालयमा पनि ती एकथरीले गएर आक्रमण गरेर आफ्नो हिज्जे लागू गर्न बाध्य तुल्याए । कीर्तिपुरे -त्रिविका नेपाली गुरुहरू) ले नेपाल एउटा देशको मात्रै होइन, भारत, भुटान, बर्मा, हङकङ, बेलायत, अमेरिकाको भाषा बन्दै गरेको नेपाली भाषामा आफ्नो विकल्पलाई पञ्चायती व्यवस्था लादेझैँ लादे । उनीहरूले पहिले नेपाल प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठानउपर हमला गरे । शत प्रतिशत समर्थन त पाएनन्, तर पनि प्रज्ञा प्रतिष्ठानलाई आफ्नो घेराभित्र पार्‍यौँ भनेर मक्ख परे । अनि उनीहरूले जे लेखे तिनका एक मुठी कारिन्दाहरूले लाखौँको सङ्ख्यामा छाप्न थाले । राष्ट्रभरका छात्रछात्राहरूमाथि आफ्ना नियम लाद्न थाले । अनेकौँ मार्ग र विकल्पहरूलाई लात मारेर आफूलाई सारा नेपाली समाजको भान्से ठानेर अनर्गल चेष्टा गरे ।
(त्यसबाट आहत भएका साथीहरूलाई) मैले थामथाम-थुमथुम गर्दै आएको थिएँ । ‘हरेक विकल्प आदरणीय हुन्छ, माननीय हुन्छ, त्यसो हुनाले कुनै पनि विकल्पलाई हामीले थुक्नु हुँदैन, घृणा गर्नु हुँदैन, बरु हामीले सँगै बसेर प्रेमपूर्वक मनको भावना साटासाट गर्नुपर्दछ’ भनेँ । बिरामी पत्नीको सेवामा लाग्नुपरेकाले तीन वर्ष म काठमाडौं आउन सकिनँ । यसपालि आएँ र नयाँ नेकशुले जारी गर्‍यौँ ।

नेपाली भाषामा ह्रस्व ‘इ’, ‘उ’ अनि पातलो ‘स’ मात्रै चलाउनुपर्छ भनेर यहाँहरूले नै झर्रोवाद आन्दोलन चलाउनुभएको थियो । नेकशुलेको नयाँ प्रस्तावनामा दीर्घ ‘ई’, ‘ऊ’, ‘श’, ‘ष’, ‘स’, आगन्तुक शब्दहरूलाई तत्समवत् चलाउने कुरा गरिएको छ । आफैंले लामो समयसम्म काँध थापेको झर्रोवादलाई अब बिसाउनुभएको हो ?
हाम्रो झर्रोवाद त विशाल आन्दोलन थियो । त्यो केवल हिज्जेको होइन, व्याकरण, ध्वनिशास्त्र र ध्वनि विज्ञानको पनि आन्दोलन थियो । मान्छेलाई थाहा छैन, ध्वनिशास्त्र र ध्वनि विज्ञानमा अन्तर छ भन्ने कुरो ।
झर्रोवादलाई हामीले छाड्ने कुरै छैन । भारी भए पो बिसाउनु ? त्यसले त जीउ चङ्गा बनाउँछ । नयाँ नेकशुलेलाई झर्रोवादले आशीर्वाद दिएको छ, फल, फूल भनेर । तर, विकल्पमा हिँडेकाहरूलाई यसले एउटै बाटोमा हिँड्न अनुरोध गर्नुपर्दछ । किनभने नेकशुले नेपालको एउटा संस्कृति हो । नेकशुले नेपाल राष्ट्रको मेरुदण्ड हो, ढुकढुकी हो । त्यो ढुकढुकीले संस्कृत तत्समलाई चाहिँ मुटु मानेको छ । किनभने नेपाली भाषा संस्कृतको कोखबाट जन्मेको हो । त्यसैले नेपाली भाषाले अङ्ग्रेजीबाट आएका शब्दलाई तत्समको मान्यता दिन सक्दैन । तिनलाई कसैले तत्समवत् (तत्सम सरहका) भनेछ भने आपत्ति पनि गर्दैन ।
तत्सम शब्दलाई छुन झर्रोवाद पनि डराएको थियो । नयाँ अभियन्ताहरूले, कीर्तिपुरे सज्जनहरूले भने तत्समसमेतलाई पनि आक्रमण गर्ने, १४ अक्षरहरू नेपालीमा छैनन् भनेर हटाउने, कुनै खासखास पदबाट तिनलाई गलहत्याउने जुन आँट गरे, त्यो चिन्ताजनक छ । म हात जोड्छु, त्यस्तो आँट नगरौँ । पुरानो नेकशुले होस्, वा हामीले बनाएको होस् वा भविष्यमा आउने नेकशुले होस्, यसले सबैलाई सम्मान गर्नुपर्दछ । कुनै एउटा समूहलाई ‘तँचाहिँ राजा’ भन्न पाइँदैन । एकथरी मित्रहरूले ‘तिमी श्री ५ भयौ है’ भन्ने भूल गरे । नेपालभित्रका मात्र होइन, बाहिरका नेपालीहरूसमेत प्रभावित हुने किसिमबाट निर्णय गर्नु उचित होइन । नेपाली भाषालाई स्तरीकरण गर्ने भनेर २०३४-३५ सालदेखि अभियान चलाइयो, अहिले आएर त धमाधम आँखा चिम्लेर जे मन लाग्यो त्यही गर्न थालेका छन् ।

हिज्जे र वर्ण विन्यासमा विवादको बीउ २०३५ सालमै रोपिएको हो भनिन्छ नि ?
ती अभियन्ताहरूले के कुरो बुझेनन् भने, नेपाली भाषा कसैको मातृभाषा होइन । त्यसबेला यसबारे कसैले अध्ययन गरिसकेका थिएनन् । एउटा कुरा हामीले बिर्सनु हुँदैन, नेपाली भाषा कसैको मातृभाषा होइन । यो नेवारको पनि भाषा हो, खसको पनि हो, गुरुङको पनि हो । नेपाली चार जात छत्तीस वर्णको साझा भाषा हो । यो गाउँगाउँमा फेरिँदै जाने भाषा होइन । खोलावारि एक रूप, खोलापारि अर्को रूप हुने भाषा होइन नेपाली । जब मैले ‘खस जातिको इतिहास’ को अनुसन्धान गर्न भनेर त्रिविको प्राध्यापनबाट स्वैच्छिक अवकाश लिएर कथ्य र लेख्य नेपालीबीच अन्तरका बारेमा सोच्न थालेँ, अनि छक्क परेँ, ज्यादै खित्का छाडेर हाँसेँ, रमाएँ । त्यो किनभने, कुनै पनि लेख्य भाषा कुनै जातिको कथ्य हुन सक्दैन रहेछ । कुनै तमसुकको भाषा कुनै नेपालीको घरमा बोलिन्छ र ? नेपाली कसैको मातृभाषा हो भने किन ‘ह्याँ बस्नुस्’ भन्छ पोखरा, ‘यैँ बस्नुस्’ भन्छ काठमाडौँ, ‘यीँ बस्नुस्’ भन्छ पूर्व ? तीन क्षेत्रमा एउटै प्रचलित शब्द ‘यहीँ’ का तीन रूप किन ? यो वास्तवमा भाषिकागत रूप हो । राष्ट्रिय भाषालाई कसैको मातृभाषा भन्दा त्यो भाषाको अपमान ठहरिन्छ ।

उसो भए छेत्री-बाहुनको मातृभाषा के हो ?
खस कुरा । त्यही भएर त छेत्री-बाहुनले पनि आफूलाई जनजाति स्वीकार गर्नुपर्‍यो भन्दै आएको हुँ मैले । नेवार, गुरुङ जनजाति हुन् भने खस किन जनजाति होइनन् ? छेत्री-बाहुन नेवार जातिमा पनि हुन्छन् । नेपाली भाषा मगर सम्राट् नागराजको काखमा जन्मेको हो । त्यसैले नेपाली भाषा खस जातिको मात्रै होइन ।

डा. तारानाथ शर्मा र तपाई, डा. कुमारबहादुर जोशी, मुकुन्दशरण उपाध्याय र कृष्णप्रसाद पराजुलीजस्ता लामो समयसम्म एकदमै फरक-फरक मत लिएर हिँडेका व्यक्तित्वहरू अहिले एक ठाउँमा आउन कसरी सम्भव भयो ?
नेपाली भाषा नेपालीमात्रको प्राण रहेछ । नेपाल राष्ट्रको मुटु यही भाषा रहेछ । नेपाली भाषा जबसम्म रहिरहन्छ, तबसम्म यस राष्ट्रमा रहेका जाति-समुदायको अस्तित्व रहन्छ । नेपालीभाषीहरूबीच फुट ल्याउन खोजिएको भेउ पाएर हामी एक ठाउँ आएका हौँ । कुनै नेपाली लेखक एक कोसको शब्दलाई पनि एउटै डिकोमुनि लेख्छु भन्ला, कुनैले चाहिँ एक बित्ताको शब्दलाई पनि अलग-अलग डिकोमा लेख्छु भन्ला । कसैले ‘शहर’ लेख्ला, कसैले ‘सहर’ । यी दुवैको धारणालाई सम्मान गर्दै नेपाली भाषालाई बचाउन, बीचको बाटो पहिल्याउन हामी अगाडि सरेका हौँ । नेपाली भाषालाई फुट्न नदिन ‘ललितपुर प्रस्तावना’ ले ऐतिहासिक कदम चालेको छ ।
परम्परालाई अपमान गर्न पाइँदैन, हत्या गर्न पाइँदैन । यो परम्परा नै हाम्रो शिरोभाग हो । कुनै-कुनै आगन्तुक शब्दहरूलाई विकल्पले दुइटै रूपमा चल्न दिनुपर्ने हाम्रो प्रस्तावना सुनेर एकजनाले ‘यसबाट झन् अराजकता’ आउँछ भने । तर, यो उदारताले अराजकता भित्र्याउँदैन, नेपाली भाषालाई पोषण शक्ति दिन्छ । यस्ता शब्दहरू हद्द भए पाँच सयवटा होलान् । सुदामाको एक मुठी कनिकाजस्ता यति शब्दहरूले पाँच लाख शब्द भण्डारको नेपाली भाषामा कसरी अराजकता ल्याउँछन् ? कसरी भाँडभैलो गर्छन् ? यस्तो राजनीतिक राग नअलापौँ । सुदामाको कनिका स्वीकार गर्दा कृष्णको महानता झन् बढेको होइन ? नेपाली भाषा विशुद्ध रूपमा राजमार्ग हो, हामी यसका यात्री हौँ । यसलाई गोरेटो नबनाऔँ ।

नयाँ राजमार्गमा चाहिँ त्रिविका गुरुहरू सहयात्री हुन आएका छैनन् नि ?
हामीले आफूभन्दा प्रबुद्धहरूलाई सम्मान गरेका छौँ । माया गर्नुपर्नेलाई माया गरेका छौँ । कसैको मन दुखाएका छैनौँ, अनि उहाँहरू आउनुहुन्न भन्ने कुरै छैन । उहाँहरूको दिलमा पनि त नेपाली भाषाको कुभलो गरौँ भन्ने छैन नि । उहाँहरूलाई अहिले कुर्सीको गाँजाले लठ्याएको छ । कुर्सीको गाँजाको नशा लागेको मानिसले कर्तव्य-अकर्तव्य के हो भन्ने बिर्सेको हुन्छ । एकै दिनमा पाँचवटा बैठक हुन्छन्, कुन भ्याउनु, कुन भ्याउनु ? गयो, सही गर्‍यो, हिँड्यो । सही के-केमा गरिन्छ गरिन्छ । त्यसैले उहाँहरूले गरेका भाषिक कुकार्यमा उहाँहरूको प्रतिभाको दोष छैन, कुर्सीको दोष छ ।

नेपालीका शिक्षकहरूले हिज्जेलाई विद्यार्थीको योग्यताको कसी मान्ने परम्परा बसाएका छन् नि ?
हिज्जे कण्ठ पारेपछि त्यसै विद्वान् भइहालिन्छ भन्ने कमजोर मानसिकताले काम गरेपछि यस्तै हुन्छ । यो ठूलो भ्रम हो, भूल हो । ‘भूल’ लाई दीर्घ लेख्ने कि ह्रस्व लेख्ने, विद्यार्थीलाई विकल्प रोज्न दिनुपर्दछ । अर्थभेदक शब्दलाई चाहिँ नियममा बाँध्नुपर्दछ । जस्तोः ‘फूल’ ले देवीदेवताको पूजा गरिन्छ, ‘फुल’ ले पेटपूजा गरिन्छ । देवी गुह्येश्वरीलाई भने ह्रस्व पनि चढ्दछ, दीर्घ पनि चढ्दछ । अब कुनै विद्यार्थी गल्ती नै गरिहाल्यो भने पनि कठोर बन्नु हुँदैन । हिज्जेमा शत प्रतिशत गल्ती छ, तर उत्तर दिने शिल्प राम्रो छ, विषयवस्तु र पूर्वापर क्रमको ज्ञान छ, विचार प्रवाह सन्तुलित छ भने पनि त्यस्तो विद्यार्थीले ‘डिस्टिङ्सन’ मा उत्तीर्ण हुन पाउनुपर्दछ । हिज्जेका कारणले १० भन्दा बढी नम्बर काट्नु हुँदैन । हिज्जे शत प्रतिशत राम्रो छ, तर लेख्नुपर्ने कुराहरू शत प्रतिशत छोडेको छ भने त्यो विद्यार्थीलाई १० भन्दा बढी नम्बर दिनु हुँदैन । केही नजान्ने विद्यार्थीलाई पास गराउने गुरु पनि नरकको खाडलमा पर्दछ ।

भाषा परिवर्तनशील हुन्छ भनिन्छ । त्यो परिवर्तन प्रयोगबाट हुँदै जाने हो कि कसैले नियम बनाइदिएर ?
कथ्य भाषाचाहिँ द्रुतगामी हुन्छ । कथ्य भाषामा ५० वर्षपछि कति परिवर्तन आउँछन् भनेर हामी कल्पना पनि गर्न सक्दैनौँ । लेख्य भाषाचाहिँ अड्डी लिने खालको हुन्छ, जस्तोः तमसुक वा भर्पाईको भाषा । त्यसैले लेख्य भाषा कसैको मातृभाषा हुन सक्दैन । तर लेख्य भाषाका उच्चार्य र लेख्य दुई भेद हुन्छन् । जस्तो लेखिन्छ त्यस्तो उच्चारण नहुन पनि सक्छ । जस्तोः ‘कहाँ’ लाई ‘काँ’ भनिन्छ, ‘साठी’ लाई नेवारहरू ‘साथी’ भन्छन् । लेख्य भाषालाई एउटा निश्चित स्तरमा राख्नुपर्दछ । यसका लागि शिक्षक-विद्यार्थीलाई तालिमको व्यवस्था हुनुपर्दछ । स्तरीय नेपालीमा उच्चारण, उच्चारण भेदबारे शोध हुनुपर्दछ । ‘कतातिर जाने ?’ र ‘खोलाको तीर’ मा ‘तिर’ र ‘तीर’ को भेद उच्चारणमा पनि देखिनुपर्दछ, लेखाइमा मात्रै होइन । साहित्यिक नेपाली वा नेपालीको लेख्य भेद वा स्तरीय भाषिकाले एक शताब्दीपछि अलिकति कोल्टे फेर्ला, दिनका दिन कोल्टे फेर्ने वा फेर्न लगाउने अनुमति कसैलाई छैन । स्तरीय लेख्य परम्परा भाषिक स्वर्ग जाने बाटो हो ।

तर नेपाली भाषाका अधिकतर गुरु, वैयाकरण, कोशकारहरूले हिज्जे, पद योग वा वियोगका नाममा लेख्य भाषालाई कोल्टे फर्काउन ऊर्जा लगाइरहनुको कारण के हुन सक्छ ?
तिनीहरूले नेपाली भाषालाई अझै आफ्नै घरमा बोल्ने भाषा ठानिरहेका छन् । अहिले म बोलिरहेको छु, कति मुस्किल परिरहेको छ मलाई । किनभने ‘अहिले’ भन्नु परिरहेको छ । स्वर मध्यगत महाप्राण ध्वनि नेपालीमा स्वतः अल्पप्राणीभूत हुने नियमका कारण ‘अहिले’ लाई ‘ऐले’ भन्ने अनुमति त म पाउँछु । बहिनी- बैनी, कहिले- कैले, पहिले- पैलेमा पनि यही नियम लागू हुन्छ, तर सबै शब्द यस्ता हुँदैनन् । अनि परेन बोल्न सकस ? कसैले बोल्दा ‘घर बढार्’ भन्छ भने त्यसले स्तरीय नेपाली बोल्न नजानेको बुझ्नुपर्दछ, बोल्दा ‘घर बडार्’ हुन्छ । ‘ढ’ को उच्चारण किन ‘ड’ भयो भन्नेबारेमा तालिम दिनुपर्दछ । खै तालिमको व्यवस्था ?

भाषा जसरी बोलिन्छ, त्यसरी लेख्नुपर्छ भन्नेहरू पनि त छन् ?
नेपाली कसैको मातृभाषा होइन भन्ने नबुझेकाहरूको बोली हो यो । पश्चिमको मान्छेले ‘क्यार्ने त नि ?’ भन्छ । त्यो नेपाली होइन, खसकुरा हो । रौसी (रक्सी), जाम् (जाउँ/जाऔँ), गाम (गाउँ) पनि खसकुरा नै हुन् । यस्ता शब्दहरू राखेर कसैले पत्रिका निकाल्दैमा पुस्तक छाप्दैमा ती नेपाली भाषाका हुँदैनन् ।
प्रकाशित : वैशाख २४, २०६९ ०९:२१

Magar Texts, Clause, Sentences, and Discourse Patterns in Selected Languages of Nepal

Shepherd, Gray and Barbara Shepherd (1973). Magar Texts,
Clause, Sentences, and Discourse Patterns in Selected Languages
of Nepal. Norman: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
Annotation by: Pratigya Regmi

Shepherd and Shepherd (1973: 30-434) have collected and
analysed of the twenty eight Magar texts from different genres. It
has presented different morphemes with abbreviated form and their
function. It has also provided the free translation of the all presented
texts. It is only a preliminary grammatical study of Magars of Nepal.

खाम मगरका वंशावली तथा भाषाको रुप व्याकरण

घर्ती मगर, रण प्रसाद. (२०६२). वंशावली. काठमाडौँः धनमाया र सिर्जना घर्ती मगर ।
टिप्पणीः प्रतिभा पुन
रण प्रसाद घर्ती मगर वंशावली (२०६२) को आयामगत स्परुप मुखपृष्ठ सहित ७० पृष्ठको छ । यस पुस्तकमा १६ वटा शीर्षकका लेखहरू छन् । विशेषतः खाम मगरका वंशावली, मगर शब्दका अर्थहरू तथा मगर जातिको नामकरण, मगरका थर र उपथरहरू, खाम मगरमा राखिएका स्थाननामका अर्थहरू आदिका बारेमा लेखिएका छन् । कुनै पनि जातिको लिखित इतिहास लोप भएमा लोकोक्ति, लोकआख्यान, लोकसाहित्यमा खोज्न सकिने प्रबल सम्भावना रहने कुरोलाई मध्य नजर गरेर सोही आधारमा केही लेख तयार पारिएको छ । केही खोज गरेर लेखिएको छ । मूलतः पूर्णतय अनुसन्धनात्मक ढाँचामा तयार नभए तापनि त्यसैको हाराहारीमा देखिन्छ । ताम्रपत्र, इतिहास, विभिन्न विद्वानहरूको कृतिहरूको अध्ययन गरेर तयार गरिएको छ ।

घर्ती मगर, रण प्रसाद. (२०६८). खाम मगर भाषाको रुप व्याकरण. काठमाडौँः धनमाया र धनीसरा घर्ती मगर ।
टिप्पणीः प्रतिभा पुन
रण प्रसाद घर्ती मगरको खाम मगर भाषाको रूप व्याकरण (२०६८) मा मगर खाम शब्द र शब्द बनाउने नियम बारे अध्ययन गरी तयार पारिएको छ । यस पुस्तकको वाह्य संरचनागत आयामलाई हेर्दा लगभग १४२ पृष्ठको छ । यस पुस्तकको भूमिकामा उनले सम्वत १४४८ मा जुम्लाका राजा अभय मल्लले खाम भाषा बोल्नेलाई दुई पैसा जरिवाना गरेपछि म्याग्दी जिल्लामा खाम भाषा पूर्ण रुपमा लोप भएर गएको प्रसङ्ग उल्लेख गरेका छन् । यस पुस्तकमा मिन, विशेषण, मींः,पोः लावमिन, क्रिया(यन), सान, क्रिया विशेषण, जोरै (संयोजक), भाःसिव वा विभक्तिका बारेमा राम्रो चर्चापरिचर्चा गरिएको छ । यस पुस्तकमा खोज तथा अध्ययन गरेर तयार पारिएको सामग्रीलाई नेपाली भाषामा पनि चर्चा गरिदिएको भए अन्यका लागि पनि उपयोगी हुन सक्ने थियो भन्ने गुनासो देखिनु स्वाभाविक नै हो ।