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What do you mean by Limbu and about Limbu?

Date Sunday, January 14th 2007, 10:36 PM Icon 71 Date 1

Limbu People: A word Limbu means a hunter.

Language and Literature:

Limbu Script Compiled and Composed by Bairagi Kainla:

Limbu language is one of the major spoken and written languages of Nepal. Today, linguists have reached the conclusion that pronominalization is indigenous development of Tibeto-Burman language and Limbu language bears close resemblance with Khambu Sampang. Limbu language has four main dialects-Panchthare, Tamarkhole, Phedape and Chatthare.

Before the introduction of Sirijonga script among Limbu Kiratas, Rong script was popular in East Nepal specially in early Maurong state. Srijonga script had almost disappeared for 800 years and it was brought into practice again by Te-Ongsi Sirijonga Thebe (1704 - 1741 A.D.) of Tellok Sinam who fled to Sikkim where he was put to death cruelly be the lamas of Sikkim in charge of educating people in Limbu language and script in 1741.

The enthusiasts of Limbu language and literature are always suffering in Nepal since the last eighteenth century. The cultural identity of any community was taken as a threat to the national unification by ruling elites until the recent years. The use of Limbu alphabets was banned and the possession of Limbu writings outlawed. There was no specific law about it, but Security Act was enforced for such cases under the strong directives of Kathmandu. Such attitude of the state mechanism left the Limbus of Nepal far behind in social awakening, cultural development and economic progress.

The written literature of Limbu language is still in its infancy. But the hidden treasure of oral literature is vast and dispersed and very little is documented so far. What has been tried in this direction so far is only a tiny fraction of the enormous resources, much more needs to be done in time to preserve the vast vanishing cultural wealth with the emerging new culture.

Customs, Traditions and the Festivals:

Limbu have their own customs and tradition evolved through centuries and are leading their distinct way of life. Most probably they came in touch with Brahman Hindus during the rule of Sen kings in Morang and Makwanpur and partly accepted Brahmans as their priests which is evidenced by the name given to them in Nepal or Sanskrit words. Brahmans apparently started to influence some aspects of the rites of Limbus since then and the rites, which have no elaborated Mundhums and rituals such as rites of birth, feeding rice and cutting hair for the first time etc. must have been replaced or modified by Hindu way of ritual performances. However Limbus resisted the overall attempts of Hinduisation because of their culturally well-entrenched and customarily firmly established way of life. Though the Brahmins may have their missionary zeal, their primary interest was to occupy the suitable fertile land, taking advantage of the simplicity, cordiality and liberality of Limbus and their extensive area of land. Whatever the religious practices and beliefs they tried to infuse among Limbus, it is obvious that they could not satisfy the emotional needs of the common people, answer their hopes, dreams and imagination, instill encouragement in their enlivening superstitions. As a result, the process of Hinduization even under state patronage, could not impress much to the great majority of the Limbus. Some Buddhism can also be observed in some aspect of rituals and interpretation of Mundhums but it could effect vary little to the basic traits and complexes of the mainstream culture in comparison of other Kirata groups in Nepal. The basic customs and tradition of Limbus are even well known today as "the customs of ten Limbus".

The customs and traditions, which has no elaborated Mundhums, but still in practice, are given in the following paragraphs:

Chophung:

Chokphung Thim is a ritual of adopting some members of another nationality or tribe or clan into one's group or clan. If someone wants to be a member of particular family of particular clan, he has to request to leader of that clan. The most essential conditions for adoption are knowledge about the history, specially pedigree of that family that he is going to join, loyalty to the members of that family and clan and other simple obligations. All the distinguished members of the clan and village assemble and the Phedangma (priest) performs the ritual. The adoptee has to make a solemn promise of loyalty towards the clan and respect the clan members as close consanguineous relatives. When someone adopts him or her, he or she is converted into the clans of adopter and becomes consanguineous relative of that family and clan.

Samyok Lung:

Samyok lung Thim is a ritual of solemn promise and confession. The literal meaning of Samyok is a kind of grass - "Cynodon dactylon" and lung a "stone". According to this ritual, if a Limbu takes an oath by touching Cynodon dactylon and stone, he always has to follow it sincerely, honestly with true spirit and keep his or her promise with all his capabilities. When someone has to speak by touching the Cynodon dactylon and stone, he or she should not lie and deceive his or her own soul. When a culprit touches the grass - Cynodon dactylon and stone and confesses his misdeeds, he is liable to pardon.

Sobu (bond-friendship):

Sobu (Seba or Sobu Sai'ba) is a special relationship between two members of different ethnic groups or clans. Its literal meaning is bond friendship, which is usually ritualized by Brahman priests and rerely by Phedangmas. It is a new relationships between a Limbu and a member of other than Limbu ethnic groups or castes. Bond relationship is not established or preferred among various clans of Limbus with some exceptions because of various opportunities of coming in close relationships among them such as establishing relationships through marriages. Bond friendships brings two different families into such close relationships which resembles almost consanguinal kinship relations and incest taboo holds between their two families. In the Mundhum compiled by Iman Sing Chemjong, it is mentioned that marriage is not allowed between the progeny of Sobu or Sobu Saiba up to the seventh generation. But today marriage is not practiced only among the members of first generation of Sobus. The related Mundhum indicates that those who were not miscegenated through Chokphung Thim and matrimonial relationships, became closer through this practice of Sobu and defended each other in time of distress and hardships. Today such relationship is widely practiced between the members of Limbu and other caste groups such as Bahuns, Kshetris, Gurungs, Magars, etc.

Entertainment:

A great optimism and a cheerfulness of temper, combined with a bonhomie and a camaraderie that are the result of a sense of happy-go-lucky freedom, appear to be the most salient qualities of the character of the Mongoloid people, and this assumption rightly applies to Limbus. They are courageous, hardworking and open minded on the one hand and are care-free, emotional and spendthrift on the other. Entertainment is the vital part of their life activities and most of the young men and woman spend their youth enjoying their youthfulness through various traditional means of entertainment such as Yalang (Paddy Dance), Hakpare (a kind of song), Panthang or Khyali (jokes in poetical language) etc. When a grown up daughter comes out of the house late at night and goes somewhere to dance (particularly to participate in the paddy dance) with her boyfriend or beloved, none of the family members mind it. Usually the young women of the village form a group and participate in the traditional entertainment programs. Acquaintances with the new faces, frequent and open exchanges of ideas through talks, jokes, satires and songs occur freely among young men and women. Even father and mother do not consider otherwise or feel uncomfortable when a young man begins to joke with their daughter in their presence. The girl may feel uneasy to respond freely in such situation. Limbus usually address with the teknonymy of son-in-law (Pangmi) or daughter-in-law (Pangli) to any young man or woman who is not close relatives and Kungba (common teknonym for sister's husband, wife's brothers) or Somit (similar teknoym for female) for adults. But it does not mean that they enjoy sexual freedom. Sexual relationship is strictly an affair of conjugal life. So, the talks or discussions between young man and woman usually center around the issues of marriage. For Limbus love, fun and marriages are separate things and maiden may have several lovers through Yarakma (Paddy Dance), but only one husband. A limbu husband is always aware of this tradition and does not feel it otherwise. A wife also does not participate openly n the entertainment activities in front of her husband.

Culture & Religion:

Limbus have distinct culture, tradition and religion of their own, though they are living together with their Hindu and Buddhist neighbors. They have a long tradition of narrating or reciting Mundhums and performing certain ritual and observing ceremonies in their own distinctive ways. Mundhum is a legend, a folklore, prehistoric accounts, sermons and moral or philosophical exhortations in poetic language. It is a scripture living in oral tradition. But these traditional resources are not properly utilized or documented so far and are rapidly disappearing.

Limbus Historical Perspective:

Limbu is an ethnic group of Mongoloid physiognomy inhabiting the area from the east of Arun river to the eastern border of present Nepal, popularly known as Limbuwan specially after the annexation of the part of Kirant land into Nepal in 1774. This land is also known as Pallo Kirant or far Kirant.

Tongsing - A Link with the Ancestors and the Present

Tongsing is the most important religious ceremony of the Limbus. Its literal meaning is "an act of cooperation, coming together, coming in agreement or conciliation, becoming correct or fitting". Tongsing is technically the name of small bamboo basket filled with earth where small sticks are stuck upright in the middle representing the spirit of deceased persons and living ones and is placed at the bottom of about tweleve feet bamboo pole stuck in the center of the courtyard. So, Tongsing Takma or Tongsing Tak is a ritual of winning cooperation of ancestors and divinities through invocation, incantation, dramatic performances and using symbolic paraphernalia. This ritual is known as Yagransing also.

Marriage:

In modern times, two forms of marriage (Metkhim/Mekkhim) are prevalent in Limbu communities: 1) arranged marriage (Naksingma Mekkhim) and 2) chosen or marriage by free choice (Nanumna Khemma Mekkhim). In an arranged marriage, initiation of preliminary negotiation for betrothal is taken by the bridgegroom's family through a team of matchmakers. Bridegroom is always present in the team and the members of the matchmakers ask him indirectly whether he would like the particular girl as his bride. The leader of the matchmakers or main emissary of bridegroom's family (Ingmiba) should be experienced in the oblique use of imagery to conduct negotiation with bride's parents or guardians. The responsible member or the representative of the family either accepts the request after due consideration or avoids by a skilful parry. Several formalities of various phases allude that chosen marriage or marriage by mutual consent of both parties preceded the arranged marriage. Chosen marriage occurs in two ways: (I) elope-ment of couple (wooer and wooed without prior knowledge or consent of parents (Nanumna Khemna Mekkhim), and (II) running away with paramour (Khumna Mekhim).

Unlike the Hindu neighbors, Limbu boys and girls have enough opportunities for courtship and amours and thus can influence the decisions concerning their marriage in many ways. Through courtship institution of Paddy Dance, euphonious traditional song - Hakpare Samlo and Khyali young man always tries to win over the love of the maiden of his choice and lead romantic life untainted with debauchery and vice versa. In the past young men and woman used to meet in some place of common resort, or in some market, participated in witty duet songs of competitive nature and a candidate, who could excel his fair rival (maiden), could seize her hand, andlead triumphantly to his home. Today such practices have vanished. Paddy Dance is the main institution that brings young men and women of varied interests together, provide opportunities of singing, dancing and understanding each other and sometime leading to marriage union.

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lawatikrishna

limbu means not a hunter

Date Sunday, January 28th 2007, 11:06 AM

hi sewaro, frist thx for blog. limbu means not a hunter it means warrior (ladaku) we always fight for our own land from beganing to untill now so limbu means warrior.

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