Dhan Bahadur Kusunda
We Kusundas are known as kings of the jungle. Not only are we dependent on forest products like roots and bulbs but we also live in it. Hunting is a mainstay of our traditional economy. We hunt down wild animals, mostly pheasants and other birds. We ensnare pheasants alive and exchange them with money and food grains.
We are called kings of the jungle not because we still live in and depend on the forest. But Nepal's forest was our actual kingdom. Our ancestors were the kings and the nomad Rautes were our subjects. Legend has it that some outside force once finished off our king, forcing us to flee the jungle. When the royal Kusundas fled, their subjects, the Rautes, came along.
After being attacked and forced out of the jungle, our ancestors living reclusive life. They would avoid contacts with the outside world, and they would hide themselves in case any outsider passed by the. Later the name Kusunda became synonymous with reclusiveness.
We are called kings of the jungle not because we still live in and depend on the forest. But Nepal's forest was our actual kingdom. Our ancestors were the kings and the nomad Rautes were our subjects.
After we fled the jungle, we faced threats to our culture. We gradually started assimilating ourselves in other communities. Depletion in forest products also drove us out of the jungle.
Our culture is similar to those of Nepal's other indigenous communities. We worship goddesses in the jungle and we celebrate Mangsire Purnima. While men worship cocks, women worship hens. We do not touch cow dung. We do not drink milk and curd. We all family members and relatives gather to celebrate our festivals.
But with passage of time, our culture came under the influence of other cultures. We stated celebrating Dashain festival as the Nepali state gave importance to it. Our language also faced threats. Today, only one Kusunda, Gyani Maya Kusunda, can speak our Kusunda language. Our mother tongue is on the verge of extinction.