Who is Limbu?

Limbu, one of the 59 indigenous peoples in Nepal, belong to the Kirat religious groups. They reside in the eastern hills of Arun River extending to the Sikkim and to the northern part of west Bengal. The area that Limbu are inhibiting was called ‘Pallo Kirat’ in the early times and is called Limbuwan in recent days.  Up until, the then Gorkha King, Prithivi Narayan Shah invaded, there were 10 different states ruled by 10 different Limbu kings. Limbus are densely inhibited in Sankhuwasabha, Taplejung, Terahthum, Panchthar, Dhankuta and Ilam district, and are now spread across Nepal.  The term, ‘Limbu', in Limbu language means ‘the person who carries bow' or 'bow carrier'. Limbu are also called Yakthung. Limbu follow Kirat religion and are animist or nature worshipers. Limbu are primarily dependent on agriculture. They practiced communal land ownership for several centuries which is called Kipat, which was abolished after the enforcement of the Land Reform Act in 1964, as a result many Limbu deprived of their land. Limbu male are very skillful in farming, hunting and carving wood and bamboo goods, whereas the females are good at weaving, gardening and so on. According to the latest national census 2011, the population of Limbu is 387,300. Of them, 180,504 are male and 206,796 are female.

Culture and tradition:-

Limbu have distinct culture and tradition. Their oral religious scripture is called Mundhum, which contains cosmology, cosmogony, mythology, stories on origins of history. Their rituals, customs, festivals are guided by and based on Mundhum. Limbu are rich in having a culture and folklores. They have their own primitive music and dances. Of many dances, Kelang dance (Chyabhrung dance or drum dance), Yalang (Dhan Nach, or paddy dance) and Yemalang (Bijwani dance, or female shaman's dance) are some of the Limbu dances. They also have their own unique songs called Hakpare, Palam and so on. Limbu’s priest and shamans are called Phedangma, Samba, Yeba, Yema and Angsi, they are the sacred ritual specialists who perform religious functions and lifecycle rituals reciting the Mundhum scripture. They are the custodians of Mundhum. They are not only performers but also healers. They bear depth knowledge of this and cosmopolitan world, medicinal plants.

Language and Script:-

Limbu have their own language, which is called 'Yakthungpan' or Limbu language’ which comes from Tibeto-Burman language family. Limbu also have their own age old writing script which is called Kirat Sirjanga. Limbu language has four main dialects: Panthere, Phedape, Tamarkhole and Chhathare. Limbu language has 9 vowels sound, and 25 consonants. According to the latest national census 2011, of the total population of Limbu 387,300, as many as 543,603 Limbu speak their mother tongue.