People of Sikkim: Nepalis

T he Nepalis now constitute more than 80 percent of the total population of Sikkim.They introduced the terraced system of cultivation and this brought large tracts of hilly terrain to yield crops productively. A major sub-cultural stock of the Nepalis are the Kiratis who include Limbus, andRais. Originally most of them were hunters and shepherds and semi-nomadic. The Limbus who are also called Yakthambas (yak-herders or traders) are divided into three sects: Kashigotra, Bhuiphuta and the Lhasagotra (Tsongs). Each Kirati sect has a dialect of its own. Some of the tribes of the Kiratis are animists (attributing the soul to non-living things like mountains), whereas the others are either Hindus or Buddhists. The deities of the Limbu community are Sri Janga,TagyeraNingwaPoma and Yuma Shamma. The Rai community also constitute a sizeable population of the state. Some other communities of the Nepalis are the Newars, Sharmas, Basnets, Thakuris, ChettrisMangars, Kamis, Damais and Karkis. The language spoken by Nepalis is understood all over by the state. This language is similar to Hindi and uses the Devanagri script. The great Hindu epic Ramayana has been translated to Nepali by a Nepali poet named BhanuBhakta who lived in the ninteenth century. The birthday of BhanuBhakta holds a special signifi­cance for the Nepalis. On this day, processions, debates and essay competitions are held in memory of the great poet and writer.