Who is Danuwar?

Danuwar is one of the highly marginalized, of 59 indigenous nationalities recognized by government of Nepal. They are one of the largest populace among the indigenous nationalities of Inner Terai, the enclosed plains between the Chure foothills and Mahabharat Lekha. They are known with different titles such as Danuwar, Dunawar, Dronwar and Donwar, they are one of the highly marginalized indigenous communities in Nepal. The term Danuwar is not derived from the mother tongue spoken by Danuwar indigenous communities; rather it is a derivation from Nepali word ‘Duna’ which means leaves plate and said that they used to have food on leaves plate so they were called Danuwar. Similarly, people who settle on the banks of the stream and the rivers and adopted the profession of fishing were called Danuwar. Etymologically, the term Danuwar was also said to have derived from the Sanskrit Dronibar that signifies the plain land between the confluences of two rivers situated in the laps of the two hills.

The history shows that in the 14th century, the king of Simoroungarh, the ancient Kingdom on the mid-southern part of Kathmandu, constructed a grandeur palace in the name of his beautiful daughter and  she was married by the crown prince of Lank now Srilanka. The queen gave birth to five-sons after marriage. Of them one was Danuwar. The same danuwar immigrated and settled to the hilly area from the inner Terai and his successor’s surname remained Danuwar.

The ancestral strongholds are Banke and Bardia district. They believe in Ban Devi, the goddess of forest and they also believe that man can become a tiger and cross the river and can become visible solely by the power of using mantra (spell). They use shamans and mantrabidhya, the knowledge of spells to a maximum degree. Danuwar indigenous communities are spread across 62, of the 75 districts in the country. Danuwar are one of the endangered indigenous peoples in Nepal, rich in terms of folk heritage. They have their own traditional beliefs, language, ornaments, clothing, housing settlements and folklores. According to the latest Census 2011, their population stands 84,115.


The mother tongue of Danuwar indigenous community is called, ‘Danuwari’, which falls under the Indo-Aryan language family. According to the latest Census, of their total of 84,115, approximately 45,821 people speak their mother-tongue. The government run newspaper Gorkhapatra has provided a page on every 15-day to publish news and views of Danuwar community in Danuwari language, under its multi-language policy.

Language speaking countries: Nepal