The Kirat community is also known as Kirati. It is a native ethnic group rooted in the Himalayas, which extends from the eastward side of Nepal, into the parts of Burma, India, and beyond. In ancient times they traveled through Yunnan, Tibet, Burma, and Assam to migrate to the current places they live in. It was about 10,000 years ago that a prototype of Tibeto-Burmans started originating on the banks of the Yellow River.
The Kirati community consists of Sunuwar, Khambu or Khumbu, Yakha, and Limbu. The Sunuwar are the people living in the westward region of River Sun Koshi. The Khambu or Khumbu are also known as Rai, while Yakha is known to be Zimdar or Dewan. However, a lot of ethnic people inhabiting the eastward regions of Nepal also call themselves the Kirat community. India’s Dooars region’s original inhabitants, also known as Mech and Koch, also consider them Kirat, along with the Kachari and Bodo tribes of Assam. They claim to be Kiratis because of their Mongolian origin. Therefore, they are called Kirati-Mongolians.
The etymology of the word “Kirat”
There has been a long dispute regarding the origin of the word Kirati or Kirat. While some of them say that the word was derived from Kirata, a Sanskrit word in Yajur Veda, some others claim it to be from Mahabharata which has the word Kiratarjuniya to describe Chinese. In Yajur Veda, Kirata is used to describe the beautiful people of the mountains who are also hunters.
The religion practiced by the Kirat community
The Kirat community follows shamanism, which they call Kirat religion. They follow Kirat Mundhum and the holy book is Mudhum or Kirat Veda. The Rai group in the Kirat community worships their ancestors and nature. Shamanism and Animism, as well as their belief in their ancestors, are the prime characteristics of the Kirat community’s religious practices. Paruhang and Sumnima and Paruhang are also the religious and cultural practices of Kirat. Some of the popular festivals in the community are Folysyandar, Yokwa, Chybrung, Saleladi Bhunmidev, Sakewa, Tashi, Sakle, and Sakela are the popular festivals in the community. Tagera Ningwaphuma is a great god of the people in the Kirat Limbu community. The god is also called supreme knowledge. The second comes Theba Sammang, the god of war, and Yuma Sammang, the Kirat ancestor.
Nepal’s Kirat community was forced to follow Hinduism and have Hindu names during the Khasnization Policy of Prithvi Narayan Shah. The policy was later maintained by the Khas rulers that followed. Even though many Kiratis avoided Hinduism initially, they were encouraged to do it by the rulers of Nepal.
The Kirateshwara has a big Kirat linga. There is a common belief that the traditions, language, and names of Kirats were suppressed by the people and Khas rulers. However, the evidence of such events was destroyed by Nepal’s successors.
The Kirat community can be considered an ancient civilization that lived in Nepal. Their Kings were the rulers of the Kathmandu Valley from around 650 B.C.