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The Jirels (Nepali: जिरेल जाति listen (help·info)) of eastern Nepal are both ethnically and linguistically related to both the Sherpas and Sunuwars. Their population of 5,300 is centered on the Jiri Valley.
Their main form of subsistence is agro-pastoral production, combing the cultivation of wheat, barley, and maize, with the herding of goats and cattle. Little is known about them, but they have certain cultural affinities close Sunwars and the Sherpas suggest that their culture is a form of the Bhoti culture.
The Jirels practice Tibetan Buddhism, have their own lamas. There is a Sherpa Buddhist monastery and a Jirel monastery in the valley. Like other ethnic groups, the Jirels' religious beliefs include elements derived from Hinduism, as well as shamanistic practices. Jirel shaman are known as phombos, whose practices are similar to the shamanistic activities elsewhere in eastern Nepal. According to the 2001 Nepal Census, there were a total of 5,316 ethnic Jirel, of whom 87.00% were Buddhists and 10.55% were Hindus.
- Sidky, H., J. Subedi, and J. Hamill. 2002Halfway to the Mountain: The Jirels of Eastern Nepal. Kathmandu: Tribhuvan University Press.
- Maibaum, Anita and Esther Strahm. 2005. Jirel-Nepali-English. Kathmandu: Central Department of Linguistics. Tribhuvan University.