Who are Tamang?
The Tamang caste is one of the various indigenous tribes of Nepal. This caste has its own common geography. The common geography of the Tamangs is called Tamsaling. The Tamang caste is one of the ancient castes of Nepal. This caste considers Kathmandu Valley as its ancient origin. Tamang is one of the 59 different indigenous tribes listed by the Government of Nepal. This caste has its own geography, religion, history, language, dress, way of life, social structure, culture and cultural beliefs.
The main habitat of this caste is Rasuwa, Makwanpur, Nuwakot, Dhading, Kavrepalanchok, Sindhupalchok, Ramechhap, Dolakha and Sindhuli in Kathmandu Valley and its surrounding districts. In addition, there are Tamangs living in different parts of the country.
Apart from Nepal, the Tamangs live in Sikkim, Darjeeling, Assam, Nagaland of India as well as Bhutan and Burma.
According to the census of 2068 BS, the population of Tamangs in Nepal is 15,39,830. However, the Tamangs have been claiming that the population of their caste is more than 2 million. According to the census of 2068 BS, this caste is in the fifth place. Apart from Nepal, the population of Tamangs is 1.5 million in Sikkim, West Bengal and Northeastern states of India alone, and more than 600,000 in Assam. There are 50,000 tamangs in Sikkim alone.
The Tamangs live from Himal to Madhes. Various indigenous tribes have been living in the Tamang settlement area. Especially Jirel, Sunuwar, Hayu, Danuwar, Vanakaria, Gurung, Kumal, Bote, Hyolmo, Sherpa, Surel, Thami, Majhi, Chepang, Newar, Pahari, Magar as well as Bahun, Chhetri, Dalit and other communities have been living there.
Language of Tamang
Language is the powerful medium to identify the Tamang caste. Among the various living languages of Nepal, Tamang is far ahead of other languages. The Tamang language belongs to the Bhote-Burmese language family. Among the Bhote-Burmese speakers, Tamang is in the forefront. According to the 2068 census, more than 90 percent of the Tamangs speak their mother tongue.
Due to the policy of one language and one culture of the state, no language other than Khas-Nepali could be developed. Due to which, like other languages of Nepal, Tamang language could not develop. However, after the change in 2046 BS, various languages were recognized by the state. As a result of the same change, the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal 2047 recognized the Tamang language as the national language. The Interim Constitution of Nepal 2063 has also recognized all languages spoken in Nepal, including Khas-Nepali, as national languages.
Religion and rites of Tamang
The Tamangs practice Buddhism. The Tamangs worship at Gumba, Mane and Chhorten according to Buddhist and traditional traditions during their various festivals. The Tamangs belong to the Mahayani sect of Buddhism. Among their various important religious festivals are Buddha Jayanti, cultural and religious festivals i.e. New Year Lhochhar. In Tamang society, each year is represented by one creature. There has been a tradition of calculating the age based on the Lho tradition and keeping the Lho of one’s child.
In the Tamang society, there are rituals like nwaran i.e. naming of a child, nose, ear piercing, eating rice, giving chhewar, gunyucholo, marriage and ghewa i.e. funeral after death. The lama does the naming of the baby and the housewife does the feeding. In the Tamang society, it is customary for an uncle to cut his son’s hair. Similarly, Gunyucholo is another important culture of this community. This deed is done by the parents. Similarly, copper plays an important role in marriage. Ghewa is from Lama. In Tamang society, copper, bonbo and lama are needed to complete any social work. Lama has an important role in the rites of death, from naming children.