Thakali

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Selected ethnic groups of Nepal; Bhotia, Sherpa, Thakali, Gurung, Kiranti/Kirat (Rai, Sunuwar, Yakkha, Limbu, Newari, PahariTamang

The Thakali are an ethnolinguistic group originated from the Thak Khola region of the Mustang District in the Dhaulagiri zone of Nepal. Thak-sat-se is the traditional area of the Thakali community, which lies in the salt trading zone on the south of Tukuche mountain, the valley of the Kali Gandaki river in western Nepal. According to 2001 census, Thakali's population of around 13,000 constitute only 0.06% of Nepal's population. There were 12,973 Thakali in Nepal, of which 65.01% were Buddhists and 33.83% were Hindus.

The Thakalis are some of Nepal's most successful businessmen. They trade in places like Tukuche and Thaksatse. Furthermore, many are owners of Nepal's hotels and motels. Their business skills can be compared to the Chinese businessmen who came to Malacca to trade during the pre-Colonial period.

However, due to extensive trade all over Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet, many Thakalis have resettled in Pokhara, Kathmandu and in southern Nepal. You will also see good number of them in Japan and in England these days. Due to this, the Thakalis outside their homeland follow a form of Tibetan Buddhism, Thakalis in southern Nepal practice Buddhism with bit Hindu flavor. Those in Mustang remain much more traditionally Buddhist.

The Thakalis are a strictly endogamous group, distinctly divided into four exogamous clans. Thus, a member of the Thakal community is expected to marry another Thakali but the marriage must be outside his or her own particular clan group.

The four clans are equal in status socially and ritually. However, on the basis of precedence in worship, the Gauchan clan usually comes first, followed by Tulachan, Sherchan/Serchan, and Bhattachan. Each clan group has a distinct clan god represented by an animal totem, such as dragon, elephant, snow leopard, and yak for Gauchan, Tulachan, Sherchan/Serchan, and Bhattachan, respectively.

The Thakalis are very organized people. They have neat kitchens and keep tidy houses. Lhafewa (Bar Barse Kumbha Mela), Tornala (ancestral worship) and Falo (Kumar Yatra) are the major festivals of the Thakali. Dhnom is the title of the Thakali priest who works as the local shaman. Madaal, Khaprang, and Thamken are their main musical instruments.

Three types or varieties of Thakali exist in the Thakkhola valley, Three village Thakali (Thak Thini, Thak Syang, Thak Chimang) called as Tin Gaule Thakali (Yhulkosompaimhi), Marphali Thakali also known as PUNEL (Lalchan, Hirachan, Jawarchan, Pannachan) and Thakali (Sherchan/Serchan, Bhattachan, Gauchan, Tulachan). Among the Yhulkosompaimhi they are also divided into subgroup. The Thakali have their own Thakali language (Panchgaunle) and their own culture regarding birth, marriage and death ceremony. They have their own festivals like Tungla and Fala.

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