Maithali

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This article is about the Nepali ethnic group. For the language, see Maithili language. For inhabitants of the Mithila region, see Maithil.
Maithil
मैथिल
Nepali Ethnic group
Dr. Ram Baran Yadav 1st President of Nepal is a Maithil
Dr. Ram Baran Yadav 1st President of Nepal is a Maithil
Nepali Maithilas
   Nepal 30,60,832 (2011 census)[1][2]
Languages
Maithili, Nepali and English.[3]
Religion
Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam
Location of the Mithila region in Nepal

Nepali Maithils ( नेपाली मैथिल ) are the indigenous Nepali ethnic group originating from Janakpur in Mithila region of Nepal and the descendents of King Janak of Nepal.[4] Sita, King Janaka, Ram Baran Yadav, Durgananda Jha and Udit Narayan Jha are the notable Maithils of Ancient and Modern times.[5][6] They worship Salahesh , the god of the Himalaya in northern Nepal. The Malla dynasty of Kathmandu Valley are said to have Maithil origin as they were noted for their fluency in speaking Maithili in their Courts, administrations, various dramas and earlier references from Swayambhu Puran and other folklore of centuries back.[7][8] [9] [10]

Region

Main article: Mithila, Nepal

Maithils are the native indigenous ethnic group of the Mithila region of Nepal. All castes living in Mithila, Nepal and speaking Maithili are Maithils. Most of the region from Jhapa to Parsa in Nepal (centered around Janakpur, in southeastern Nepal) form modern Mithila. This area was known as the kingdom of Videha, with its capital at Janakpur (or Mithila Nagari). The kingdom appears in the Ramayana; according to it and other ancient texts, it is the birthplace of Hindu Goddess Sita and Janaka.

Culture

Most of Maithils never went abroad for employment – a life that kept them isolated in their own localities.[11] In this isolation they developed a unique culture free from the influence of adjacent India, or from the mountain and hills groups of Nepal. The most striking aspects of their environment are the decorated rice containers, colorfully painted verandahs and outer walls of their homes using only available materials like clay, mud, dung and grass. Much of the rich design is rooted in devotional activities and passed on from one generation to the next, occasionally introducing contemporary elements such as a bus or an airplane.[12]

Household structure

In the Central Terai, most Maithils prefer living in Badaghar called longhouses with big families of many generations, sometimes 40-50 people. All household members pool their labor force, contribute their income, share the expenditure and use one kitchen.[13]

Social structure

Maithil community maintains extensive social genealogical records known as Panjis. The first Panjis were written during the reign of Maharaja Harisingh Dev of Janakpur, Nepal in 1310 AD[14] The principle of Panjis is "Bij Purush" or seed person, who is the first in a particular lineage. The Bij Purush are classified according to "Gotras" (Clan) "Mul" (Lineage) which is the original residing place, called "Mulgrams", of the Vij Purush. The keeper of the Panjis are called as "Panjikars" There are allotted Panjikars for various gotras and Muls of Brahmins and Karna Kayasthas. They are responsible for the accurate record keeping and maintenance of the genealogies.[15] Panjikars are not only a recorder keeper but they are also classified in to three to four categories by their social institution. Class "A" Panjikar have to pass the DHAUT PARIKSHA organized by MITHILA MAHARAJA, Maithil Brahmins panjikar in title for this and awarded an honour by the state at that time. Panjis are traditionally written on palm leaves measuring 16 x 3 and threaded by a central perforation. They are also written on old indigenously made paper called 'Basaha'. However, in the last century they are being increasingly written on paper. The astute panjikars were not only expected to diligently copy the old records but also memorize them by heart [16] The Panjis have enormous value in during fixing marriages, as Maithils ensure that incestuous relationships do not occur, delineating the last 14 or so generations of the prospective bride and groom.

Religious practices

The religious practices of the Maithils are a mixture of orthodox Hinduism and animism.[17] They worship Shakti and Shakti peeths in various forms; some are also Shaivites and Vaishnavites.[18]

Occupation

Nepali singer Udit Narayan Jha

Maithils are mainly involved in farming, irrigation is one of the most important aspects of the community. Maithils in Eastern Nepal built canals that irrigate thousands of hectares of land. They plant rice, mustard, corn and lentils, but also collect forest products such as wild fruits, vegetables, medicinal plants and materials to build their houses; hunt deer, rabbit and wild boar, and go fishing in the rivers and oxbow lakes. Hundreds of years ago, without using any sophisticated tools, they built hundreds of kilometers of irrigation canals in the Jhapa and Morang districts of Nepal. An irrigation canal could be used by several villages. Its water and diversion works need to be managed fairly. As a token of respect, the community members may also help them in farming for a day free of cost.[19]

Maithil Brahmins

Maithil Brahmins are a Hindu Brahmin community of [Mithila|Mithila]. They are one of the five Pancha-Gauda Brahmin communities.[20] They are also noted for panjis, the extensive genealogical records maintained for the last twenty-four generations. Like many other Hindu castes, the Maithil Brahmins also trace their origin from Janakpur of Nepal in the legends of Ramayana.

Janakpur bombing

On 26 April 2012, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) submitted a proposal for 11 federal units in Nepal in which Mithila was not mentioned. The proposal was opposed by local residents,[21] who submitted a memorandum to Mithila district headquarters requesting a Mithila federal unit in Nepal. A signature campaign was launched throughout the region in which local residents actively participated.[22] On 30 April, local Maithils were conducting a peaceful protest on Ramananda Chowk in Janakpur. About 10 am, the protest was bombed; five people were killed, three more died later and more than forty were injured.[23] Maithil actress Anju Jha was one of those killed in the bombing; she had become popular in Mukhiyaa Jyu several months earlier.

Later that day a little-known armed political group, Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (Democratic Terai Liberation Front), claimed responsibility to local media in a text message. Rajan Mukti was the primary suspect.[24] The blast in Janakpur and its victims angered local residents, who protested peacefully.

Cross-border regionalism

Mithila regionalism unites Maithils of Nepal and Maithil of India from both sides of international border. Since they share a common history, language, culture, ethnicity, and same origin from Janakpur they feel part of one Mithila. Positive events on one side of the international border are celebrated on the other side, and negative events are mourned on both sides.[25]

References

  1. ^ Dr. Arun C. Mehta. "Maithil Population (Nepali Census) Data: 2011 Census, Nepal". Educationforallnepal.com. Retrieved 2013-07-18. 
  2. ^ "CENSUS 2011 : Nepal's population is 26,620,809 Maithils are 11.57P". Allvoices.com. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  3. ^ "Demographics of Maithil population of Nepal". 
  4. ^ "origin of Maithil people of Nepal". 
  5. ^ King Janaka of Janakpur
  6. ^ Nepali singer Udit Narayan Jha of Maithil origin
  7. ^ "Origin of Malla dynasty in Nepal". 
  8. ^ "Newari language and Maithili literature of Nepal". 
  9. ^ "Maithil wives of Kings of Malla dynasty and the Maithili literature expansion in Kathmandu Valley". 
  10. ^ "Malla Kings were of Maithali origin". 
  11. ^ Gurung, G.M. (1992). "Socioeconomic Network of a Terai Village: An account of the Maithils of Sunsari" (PDF). Contributions to Nepalese Studies, Vol. 19, No. 1. 
  12. ^ Meyer, K. W., Deuel, P. (1997). "The Maithils of the Terai-Madhesh". Indigo Gallery, Kathmandu. Retrieved 2006-12-07. 
  13. ^ Lam, L. M. (2009). "Park, hill migration and changes in household livelihood systems of Maithils in Central Nepal." (PDF). University of Adelaide. 
  14. ^ "Panjis in Maithil culture". 
  15. ^ "Principle of Panjis". 
  16. ^ "Writing of Panjis among Maithils". 
  17. ^ Gopal K. Bhargava; Shankarlal C. Bhatt (2005). Land and Maithil people of Nepal and union territories. 5. Madhesh. Gyan Publishing House. pp. 37–. ISBN 978-81-7835-361-6. 
  18. ^ Makhan Jha (1 January 1997). Anthropology of Hindu Kingdom of Nepal: A Study in Civilizational Perspective. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. pp. 38–. ISBN 978-81-7533-034-4. 
  19. ^ "Alike Occupation of Maithils and Majhi people of Nepal". 
  20. ^ Venkatesa Iyengar (1932). The Mysore of Brahmins of Mithila region of Nepal. Mittal Publications. p. 301. GGKEY:XFC5XHQ9E3J. 
  21. ^ "BBC Nepali - समाचार - माओवादी संघीय प्रस्तावप्रति आपत्ति". Bbc.co.uk. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  22. ^ Himalayan News Service (28 April 2012). "Locals oppose Mithila division". The Himalayan Times. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  23. ^ "4 killed in nepal bomb blast 9199126". Jagran.com. 2013-09-17. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  24. ^ Manesh Shrestha (April 30, 2012). "5 Nepali Maithils died in Nepal blast, little know group claims responsibility". The Times of India. Retrieved August 3, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Maithils of India mourned for Maithils of Nepal who losts lives in Janakpur bombing 9205721". Jagran.com. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2013-09-22.