Who is Thakali?

Thakali is one of the 59 indigenous Nationalities in Nepal densely dwelling in Thasang, or Thak Sat Sae or Thak Khola of the southern part of Mustang district, which extends from the village of Ghasa in the south to Jomsom (the district headquarter) in the north. Thakalis ancestral territory is Thaksatse in Thak Khola, which consists of 13 village known as Tehra Gaun: Tukuche, Khanti, Kobang, Larjung, Bhujungkot, Nakhung, Naprungkhung, Titi, Dhumpu, Taglung, Kunjo, Lete and Ghasa. Thakalis are divided into four clans—Khuki (Bhattachan), Choki (Gauchan), Dinjen (Sherchan) and Salki (Tulachan).

History puts that the term ‘Thak’ originated from Tibetan language which means a ‘distant country’ and the term may have been coined because historically Thak region was at the edge of Tibetan influence. For most of the period until the mid-eighteenth century, the region was ruled by the Tibetan Kingdom of Lo. In 1786 the Lo Kingdoms came under Gurkha rule, and in 1789 they helped Gurkhas conquer the formidable Kingdom of Jumla. For their aid, Lo Kings retained their positions with provisions that they pay tributary to rulers in Kathmandu. Thakalis do not have a written history. They have preserved their oral history, a mixture of historical facts and mythical stories in their religious textbook called ‘cyogi rhab’ which is written in Tibetan script.

Thakalis are one of the indigenous communities having distinct language, culture, rituals and oral history. La Phewa is the major festival of the Thakalis, which is renowned as a 12-year cyclic fair. Thakalis adhere both to Bon and Buddhism. Toronlha is their one another major festival, it is also known as the New Year of Thakali, which is observed once in a year in early March. Thakalis have a living customary institution called Mukhiya system, practicing political, judicial, social and economic performances. This very customary institution devises rules, laws and makes regulations, settles disputes relating to petty quarrels, theft, robbery and other cases, protects forests and controls social evils and promotes customs. Although their traditional occupations are agriculture and animal husbandry, they are famous today for trade and business. According to 2011 Census, the population of Thakali is 13,215.

Thakali language

Thakalis have their own mother tongue which falls under the Tibeto-Burman family. Thakali Shamans use their language when they utter mantra (spell and shamanistic practice) and the songs which are sung during their various festivals are also composed in their own mother tongue. 

Total number of speakers of Thakali language:

As many as 5,242 Thakali speak their mother tongue according to National Census 2011.

Countries where the language is spoken: Nepal