Rai people

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Rai People
Rai womens and Child in Sakela Udhauli Festival.jpg
Rai women and child in Sakela, Udhauli festival
Total population
c. 1.2 million
   Nepal 690,989(2011),[1]

 India 500,000(above)[2][3]

 Bhutan 17,500[4]
Regions with significant populations
Nepal: Province No. 1 and smaller numbering in Bagmati Province and Madhesh Province
India: West Bengal : predominantly Darjeeling, Kalimpong districts 250,000 (2011)[5]
and Dooars,
Seal of Sikkim.svgSikkim:77,954 (2006),[6]
Assam and other Northeastern States,
Bihar: few villages of Supaul and Madhepura subdivisions[7]
Bhutan: mainly Southern and Western region
Kiratism 64.4% · Hinduism 27.5% · Christianity 5.3%[8]
Related ethnic groups

The Rai are a Kirati ethnolinguistic group who mainly reside in the eastern parts of Nepal, the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal (predominantly Darjeeling Hills) and in south western Bhutan.[9][10]

Mangpa or Nakchhong tribal (Shaman) priest of Rai Community in Mangkhim, Aritar, Sikkim

The Rais are a set of groups, one of the cultivating tribes of Nepal. They inhabited between the Dudh Koshi and Tamur River in Nepal. They claim that their country alone is called (Kiratdesh), and they call themselves Rai. In modern times, they have spread over Nepal, Sikkim and West Bengal.[11] Rai are also known as "Jimdar" and in some places as "Khambu." "Jim" means "land" because they cultivated "Jim" or land, the Rais return cultivation as their traditional occupation. H. H Risley treats the Rais and Jimdar the as synonymous with the Khambus, but most of the Rais nowadays do admit Khambu and Jimdar to be synonymous terms connoting the same ethnic group. Rais are one of the dominant tribes of the Kirati group, the Rais are a fighting tribe of Nepal. They are popularly believed to have offered a stiff resistance to the invasion of the Gorkhas.[12] Kiranti Rais are hill tribe who once possessed considerable power and territory, but were speedily reduced to submission by Prithvi Narayan Shah after his conquest of Nepal.[13] Kirati rule in eastern hills of Nepal ended after the conquest of Gorkha Kingdom in 1772–1773.[14]

Geographical distribution[edit]


Numbering about 750,000, the Rai Population inhabited Eastern Part of Nepal. Linguists have identified up to 28 different Rai languages, most of them mutually unintelligible.[15]

Distribution territory of different Rai Lingustic groups in Eastern Nepal Province No. 1 districts include:Khotang, Bhojpur, Solukhambu, Dhankuta, Sankhuwasabha, Udaypur, Okhaldhunga,Ilam and Panchthar District .

According to Nepal's 2011 census, there are 620,004 Rai in Nepal which represents 2.3% of the country's total population. Rai's are major ethnic group by number in the Districts of Khotang (36.6%), Bhojpur (32.0%), Ilam (23.8%), Dhankuta (19.7%), Solukhumbu (19.6%), Udayapur (17.3%), Panchthar (13.8%), Sankhuwasabha (10.3%), Okhaldhunga (9.9%) and Morang (5.0%).[16] They also live in Jhapa, Sunsari and Makawanpur districts.

India,Bhutan and other countries[edit]

Rais are predominates in the Indian State of Sikkim, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong, Mirik and Dooars of West Bengal.[17] Rai is the single largest ethnic community in Sikkim.[18] Rai Population mostly found in South,West and East Sikkim.[19] large number of Rais also living in Assam and other Northeastern States. The Kingdom of Bhutan and some have recently migrated to the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, the United States and other countries.


Mythology of Rai People[edit]

Rais tradition relates that the first of the ancestral Kirati entered Nepal's eastern hills through the Barahachhetra gorge of the, Kosi valley the natural gateway into the region through the Mahabharat Range, which separates the hilly hinterland from the plains.[20][21] According to the Mundum, oral history Kirati ancestors came out of the "Khuwalung" Then followed the small river or the Saptakoshi. They journeyed through the Arun, Dudh Koshi , Sun Koshi, Tama Koshi and finally settled down in the Bhote Koshi valley.[22][23]

Taandhunga(Weaving Stone) In Tuwachung Jayajum Historical Piligrame site of (Kirati-Rai people) Khotang District Eastern Nepal

According to the myths of Kirati-Rai People "Tayama" (elder stster) "Khiyama" (younger sister) and "Raichhakule"( Tayama and Khimaya's younger brother) are supposed to be the primeval ancestors of the Kirati-Rai's Civilization. The sisters are believed to have lived in "Tuwachung" whereas the brother in the cave of Halesi . Tayama and Khiyama were skillful enough in weaving the looms. They are regarded as the pioneers of textile. Tayama is recognized by the names like;Khew,Toyama,Toma,Tayama,Tangwama,Jauma,Jaumo,Dawa,Kakcha, and accordingly Khiyama is also called by Khema,Khiwama,Khliuma,Khlemo,Khewa,Khauma,Los in distinct Kiranti languages. Raichhakule (younger brother of Tayama and Khimaya's) also known as Hetchhakuppa,Hetchhakuwa,Khokchilipa,Khakchhilip etc. he is considered to be the beginner of the agricultural era in the cultural history of Kirati- Rai People.[24][25][26][27][28]

Salpa Pokhari(Pond) and Sillichung Mountain in Bhojpur District Eastern Nepal

Salpa Pokhari is believed the origin of Kirati(Rais)ancestors. Salpa Pokhori is the centre of cultural believe for Kirati Rais and is related to the myth of "Salpa" and "Ribrima"(Salpa King and Queen). so Kirati-Rais believed to be born from these ancestors,Salpa and Ribrima. Salpa Pokhori is very significant and popular among Kirati Rais from cultural and religious view according to the Kirati Rai's myth, this place is the origin of the Kirati-Rai people. The Sillichung Mountain known as the prime tribute is supposed to be the origin of "Mundum" according to the Kirati myth.[29][30][31]

Kirat Dynasty in Kathmandu Valley[edit]

Nepal enters into real historical era with the conquest of Kathmandu Valley by the Kiratis. The Kiratis are said to have been the aborigines inhabiting Eastern Nepal and having their own administrative set-up. Under the able leadership of their chieftain "Yalung" or Yalambar the Kiratis defeated Bhuwan Singh; the last king in the Ahir Dynasty and brought the Kathmandu valley under their sway.[32] From various sources mentioning Long period altogether 29 to 32 Kirati kings who had ruled over Nepal 1225 years from 800 BCE to 300 AD. Gopal genealogy mentions 32 Kirati Kings to have ruled over Nepal different genealogies have found to be stating different names of last Kirati King. The Lichhavi monarchical dynasty was established in Nepal by defeating last Kirati King ‘Khigu’, according to Gopal genealogy, ‘Galiz’ according to language-genealogy and ‘Gasti’, according to Wright genealogy. Chyasal is the place of final battlefield for Kiratis and Lichhavis. About 250 A.D. Kirati rule end in Kathmandu Valley and Kiratis moved towards east.[33] Various ancient historical,archeological sites related to history of Kiratis and Kirati period in Kathmandu Valley like Chyasal, Patan Durbar, Patuk Don, Gokarna, Thankot, Birupakshya, Lalitpur, Akash Bhairav etc.[34]

Kirat Kingdom in the East[edit]

According to historians the Lichhavis got victory only over Kathmandu. in other parts of the eastern country Kirati rule is still maintained. After the defeated Kiratis by Lichhavis in Kathmandu valley the Kiratis moved gradually east wards ruling in the small territories. In the process of expansion Kiratis extended from Banepa, Dulikhel, Sindupalchok, Darawrdanda, Dolakha, Charikot to Kiratichap.[35] Kiratis built a fort in Kiratichap and started to rule again still many evidences of Kiratis ancient ruins graveyard can be found in Dolakha,Sindupalchok region like "Kirat Thursa" in Jiri "Kiratichap" in Dolakha.[36][37] according to various folklore and oral history Lichhavi attacked again Kiratis in Dolakha and chased away. In Pursuit of the fertile land some kiratis followed Sunkoshi river they become Sunuwar. others who followed the Tamakoshi, Dudhkoshi, Arun and Tamur rivers they become today's Rai, Yakkha, Sunuwar and Limbu . After settling down in different areas Kiratis made their appropriate 'Kipat,' 'the area,' and again in the mountain region eastern hills Kiratis ruled over for centuries. in course of time due to the geo-political division three Kirati states were created as Wallo Kirat(Near Kirat), Majh Kirat (Middle Kirat) and Pallo Kirat or (Far east Kirat).[38]

Gorkhali Conquest in Kirat Country[edit]

Around 1743 AD King Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha started to Unification of Nepal campaign, conquering many small states Gorkhalis also started to attacked in the Kirat Region.[39] according to historians, before the unification of Nepal by Prithvivinaryan Shah from Banepa to Trishuli River and around Teesta River known as Kiratdesh the territory of Kiratis. Looking at the evidence of the time when Prithvinarayan Shah expanded the Gorkha kingdom, Dolakha, Ramechhap and Sindhuli fall in Wallo Kirat and the part from Sunkoshi to upper Arun river falls in Manjh Kirat . The area from Upper Arun Arun river to East Teesta River falls within Pallo Kirat . when Prithvi Narayan Shah invaded the Dhulikhel border area of (Wallo Kirat) in 1768 AD, that time the Kirat King of Dhulikhel Chaukhat Mahindra Sing Rai and his brother Namsing Rai strongly resisted and fought valiantly with Prithivinarayan shah's huge army for a very long time.[40][41] King Prithvi Narayan Shah had deployed Sardar Ram Krishna Kunwar to the invasion of Kirant regional areas comprising; Pallo Kirant, Wallo Kirant and Majh Kirant. There are many kings and chiftens and forts under Wallo Kirat and Majh Kirat area. It is mentioned in the book "Mechi to Mahakali" Part-1 eight thums forts of (Wallo Kirat) Okhaldhunga, namely Bungnam, Taluwa, Chyanam, Solu, Tilpung, Chisankhu, Chuplu and Chauras.[42] other forts in Majh Kirat are Hatuwa, Chawdandi, Mukali, Halesi, Khotehang, Kulum, Majhuwa, Khamtel, Pamakham, Rawa and Kepilas one by one, the Gorkhalis conquered all these forts in Wallo and Majh Kirat.

At the time when Prithivi Narayan Shah conquered the Kirat region. In this historical period, Waling Hang was the king in Hatuwā Gaḍhi(Majh Kirat) in across the Arun River. The kings of Hatuwa extended their rule over part of Khalsa. The Khalsa territory present day Ankhisalla, Dhankuta District ruled by King Budhahang. Budhahang disappeared when Prithivi Narayan Shah attacked him. During the war with the Shah king, he could revive all the dead Kirati warriors who were killed using his devine powers.[43] On 29 August 1772), Ram Krishna Kanwar crossed Dudhkoshi river enter Chaudandi to invade of Kirant and Saptari region with fellow commander Abhiman Singh Basnyat.

Khambu Kirati Youths who were skilled archers, stemmed the advance of the Gorkhali troops at every step with their arrows. they inflicted heavy losses on the Gorkhalis, so that Prithivinarayan Shah had to send reinforcement sounder the commend of Subedar Shiva Narayan Khatri. Chatim Rai of Rawa Khola and Atal Rai of Pamakham were two principal Khambus Kirati ultimately proved ineffective before, the bows and arrows of the Gorkhalis. within a period of 5 months the Gorkhalis accupied Rawa, Halesi, Majuwa,Kulum and Dingla thus conquering the hole of Majh Kirat.[44]


Rai Community has its own traditional culture and rituals. all Rai people practice same rituals of life from birth to death. but there are some variation in rites and rituals in Rai communities living in different places.

Rai People doing ancestoral ritual at “Suptulung” Suptulung is a sacred place where all the Life Cycle cultural ritual activities of Rai community perform

Marriage System[edit]

Marriage in Rai group is not merely a biological and psychological relation between the couple, but essentially considered a social phenomenon that must be approved by the society. Unless the society gives recognition to the couples, they find their marital relation insecure. After the marriage, the woman's clan is not changed, though she stays with her husband; but her children follow the clan of her husband. Both the practices of monogamy and polygamy are found among Rais; but the system of polygamy is gradually declinging.

Some important types of marriage found among Rais are :

a) Chori Biha (Theft Marriage): It is called Chori Biha by Rais. If a man takes a woman away from her home secretly without informing her parents, it is called ‘theft marriage’. This sort of marriage is a bit different from ‘love marriage’, in that the man and woman may not have developed personal relationship for a long time, which is found in love marriage. The man may like the woman all of a sudden, which the woman may not be noticing. All of a sudden, the man expresses his wish to marry her when he meets her on some occasion or gathering – like in the fairs and marketplace. In such a case, if some of her relatives or close friends encourage her to elope with the man, she may be convinced and becomes ready to go with him.

Nowadays theft marriage is gradually being replaced by ‘love marriage’, in which the concerned boy and girl spend some time to know each other without the influence or intervention of anybody; then they can either decide to marry, just maintain their friendship or discontinue it, depending on how far the two parties like or dislike each other.

b) Zari Biha (Marriage by paying penalty): Taking the wife of another man away in her consent for the purpose of marriage is called Zari Biha in Rai community. In such a case, a certain amount of cash is paid as a penalty by the woman's new husband to the earlier one.

c) Senzi Zari Biha (Widow marriage): In Rai community, there is no any social prohibition for the widows to marry. A widow or widower is allowed to get married, though it is not a compulsion.

In this marriage, a certain penalty is paid to the widow's father-in-law or the senior family member, as a compensation for losing a member of the family.

d) Magi Biha (Arranged Marriage): Arrange marriage is performed with the mutual understanding and arrangements of both the families – the boy's side and the girl's side. It is called Magi Biha. In this marriage, the consent of the girl, the forthcoming bride, is a must.[45][46]

Death Ritual[edit]

In Rai Community Death is distinguish between the natural death and unnatural death in their rites of the passage as well. In the case of natural death, the body is either buried or cremated, upon the wish of the dead person. But the body must be buried in the case of unnatural death. There are many formalities in the death ritual if it is the natural death; but such formalities are less in the case of unnatural death, since it is believed that such a death turns the person into evil.

If a baby dies before the growth of his/her tooth, the funeral rite observed is very simple. Such a death is considered a bad omen and categorized under unnatural death. The pollution and purification rituals are completed on the same day in such cases

If a pregnant woman dies, her lower abdomen is bisected with a bamboo knife and the child is removed from her body. The mother and the child are buried at different burial sites according to the ritual of unnatural death. The pollution and purification ritual is completed on the same day. In the case of natural death, complete funeral rite is observed; and pollution and purification rituals are strictly followed. among Rai community a salt eating and oil drinking ceremony is performed three days after the death. On the ninth and tenth days, a Shaman performs a merit making ceremony for the deceased. This ritual is done to put the deceased soul to a rest; otherwise, it is believed that the deceased person's spirit will bring harm to the family.[47]

Family and Kinship[edit]

Rais have the practice of living in both the nuclear and joint families. In the nuclear family, there are two generations of people, whereas a joint family has three or more generations living together by sharing the same house and kitchen. Normally the son does not get separated immediately after his marriage. But after the marriage of his younger brother, he may wish to live separately. At the time of separation, the parental property is divided equally between the parents and sons.

Mainly three forms of kinship are found among Rais: i) kinship by blood; e.g. brother and sister, ii) kinship by marriage; e.g. father-in-law, sister-in-law, etc., iii) kinship by social relation; e.g. Miteri (friendship bond established after a special ritual) relation.

Kinship behaviour varies according to the status of the kin. Some relatives are more respectable than others, while some are in ‘joking relation’. For instance, father, mother, uncle and aunt are respectable, but solti-soltinee, sali-bhena, are all in joking relation. In Rai community, son-in-law and daughter-in-law are treated equally as the son or daughter of the family.

Gender Issues and Decision Making Procedure[edit]

Men and women having equal status in the family and community, there is almost no gender discrimination in Rai society. Although man is usually the head of the family, woman's role is equally important in planning and decision making on domestic matters. The husband decides almost nothing in absence of his wife. They generally discuss to plan the daily activities collectively in the family after dinner; and decision is made thereupon.

After a year of the death of her husband, a widow can wear her casual dresses. There is no restriction for the widow or widower regarding their clothing. They also have the freedom for remarriage; but whether to marry or not depend entirely on the widow's or widower's wish. An unmarried adult woman possesses very strong role in the family. She is heard by all.

Male and female members of family share their labour in all sorts of activities. However, a few cases are the exceptions; e.g. cooking meal, which is mostly considered the responsibility of women. But when women are very busy, men take the responsibility of cooking as well. Similarly, though ploughing the field is generally considered the work of men, unmarried girls are also found involved in it to support men in their work.

Attire and Ornamens[edit]

Rai women's used to weave home spend cloths from the Khadi, Cotton, Wool and Allo Nattle Plant .[48][49][50]

Weaving painting of Rai women

Female attire and ornaments : Rai women dresses are Shawl(Mujetro/Burkey/ Tangdoma)Blouse(Cholo/Yamlung)Sari(Guniu/ Tamphay),Mekli,Waist bands hawl (Hembari), WaistSash(Patuki Chhakchhima),every Rai-Kirati Lady used to keep Khurpi (small carved knife). Pig hair round brush (Kuchi), Musical Instrument (Binayo/ Dong). (Marchunga Dotengwa), Hair Band(Lachha/Tangkhi). They weave their own clothes on Tan-(wooden weaving machine) from cotton, wool and fibres made from the bark of stinging nettle (Sisnu/Ganam).

Female Ornaments

Head ornaments of Rai women antique Wooden Mask wood Art Nepal
  • Sirful, शिरफुल
  • Dhungri-Bulaki, ढुंग्री-बुलाकी
  • Chepteysun, चेप्टेसुन
  • Chandrahaar, चन्द्रहार
  • Naugedi, नौगेढी़
  • Renji Hari, रेजी/पैसाको हारी
  • Kalli,चाँदीको कल्ली
  • Balla, चाँदीको बाला,ठेका चुरा
  • Godawari, गोदावरी
  • Tariwoon, तारीवान्
  • Puwalo Mala, पुवालो माला
  • Jantar, जन्तर
  • Hansuli, हसुली
  • Dhajura-Pechuri, धजुरा-पेचुरी

Male attire and ornamants:Rai Man wear Wachinari Mala(Dzi bead), Potlung(Puwalo Mala)garland, and animal tooth necklaces. Male dress comprises headgear (Feta/Pagari/ Sayabung), BetebungShirt (Dawm/Lockchham) pant Suruwal/ Langsup) sleeveless coat made of stinging Nettle plant fiber, (Chhakchha/Fenga), Waist Band (Narimokty) (Patuki,Chakchhinma), a large knife(Khukuri/ Dabhay).[51]


Rais have been following Kirat religion since the ancient time Kirat religion is based on animistic nature and ancestor worship. Rais do not believe in heaven or hell. There is no religious hierarchy. Kirati-Rais engages Nakchong,Mangpa,Bijuwa, Nakso their tribal shamans in their religious rites. During the course of their recent history the Rais has increasingly borrowed elements from the major religions they have had contact with from Lamaist Buddhism or another cases Nepalese Hinduism without however renouncing their own tribal traditions.[52]

Suptulung sacred worship place of the Rai Community[edit]

Suptulung/Samkhalung:Teen Chula Dhunga, the three hearthmade stone sacred worship place of the Rai People

Teen Chula or Chula Dhunga "The three hearth made stones" called Dayahulung or Suptulung is the central part all the rituals or rites of Rais practised from birth to death are done in this Teen Chula 'Suptulung' The major deity of all Rais is 'Teen chula(Suptulung) The three hearthmade stoned oven' of the house. "The Term Lu or Lung refers to the stone and thus the suffix like lu or lung is found in most of the names of the oven in house eg; Taplelung, Suptulung, Mayalung, Ghewalung etc. Almost every thing from the right beginning of birth 'cradle to the tomb' is performed on the sacred teen chula without Teen Chula no rituals can be done.in Rai culture Teen Chula is the gate-way to enter in the real and practical day to day life.[53] There is (Suptulung)'Teen Chula'in every house of Rais. It is buried on one side of the inner corner of the house. It said that "Dash Rai Dash Bhasa Ek Chula" "There is Same Teen Chula of all ten diversified Rais" it is believe that in the beginning there is only Ten 'Thars' of Rais but later Rais are divide into many 'thars' sub-group Teen Chula(Suptulung) is the Tribal identity of Rais and its a symbol of unity of different diviersified Kirati-Rais in one ethnic family.[54] Teen Chula(Suptulung)also known as Samkhalung in bantawa Rai dialect The word "Samkha" means ancestors and "Lung" means stones. Samkhalung the three main stones,

  1. Papalung: symbolizing male ancestors,
  2. Mamalung: symbolizing female ancestors, and
  3. Ramilung: symbolizing societal spiritual energies.

The Teen Chula are considered by the Rais to be their most important shrines Teen Chula is sacred place after death where the departed souls ancestors of the Rais live in this place. Teen Chula philosophy (three knowledge perspectives) as the distinctive original identity of Rais.[55]

Folk Gods/Goddesses[edit]

Kirati-Rais are basically animist they worship various Household deity and Nature deities.

Sumnima and Paruhang as the archetypal proto female and proto male Kirati-Rai's supreme deity is Sumnima-Paruhang. Sumnima is a female goddess which is believed to be the Mother Earth (Mother Nature) and Paruhang is a male god also known as the king Sky God.

Kirati-Rais worship as ancestral god and goddess to Sumnima and Paruhang .Sumnima also known as 'Hengkhamma' the Mother Earth and Paruhang also known as 'Ninamma' Father the Sky god. The Sumnima is the supreme female God, wife of the Paruhang She represents the earth and ancestral mother. Paruhang is the supreme male God, husband of the Sumnima, lords of flowers. Sumnima-Paruhang are the deities of creator, preserver and sustainer god and goddess of the Rais. Hence it is not appropriate to equate these venerated god and goddess with the Shiva(a destroyer god of Hinduism) and Parvati(concert of Shiva),as it is often equated in Rais literature these days this is simply Hinduisation of the lesser-known Rais believe System.[56][57][58]

Rai Shamanism[edit]

Rai Shaman Eastern Nepal

Rai shamanism comprises a plurality of shamanic traditions, varied but closely related, like the Rai groups themselves. The Rai in East Nepal consist of numerous subtribes, and even though they speak different languages and have their own distinct traditions, they all share a common linguistic and cultural heritage. Together with Limbu (the language of a related group residing farther to the east, also in Sikkim and Darjeeling), the Kirati-Rai languages belong to the Kiranti family, which is a subgroup of Tibeto-Burman. Culturally the Rai have been influenced by both Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism, but these influences have only marginally affected their ancestral traditions, in which shamanic features still figure prominently.[59]

The Mundum[edit]

The "mundum" is the oral tradition among the Rais and it is also a long-standing, and ancient, though not unchanging, ritual practice. Mundum is also addressed as "Ridum" "Muddum" or "Pelam". Iiterally, "Muna" means "Man" and "dum" means talk" which can be said speaking of man or oral talking as a hole the mundum is an oral tradition. so, it may differ in place to place. The term mundum is generally pronounced as mundhum by Nepali speakers. Many researchers have documented the term mundhum in their research. The /dh/ sound in mundhum is not found in many Kirati languages. If it is found in other Kirati languages, it often is a loan sound. The term mundhum thus might be of Nepali influence. So, the native term is "mundum”. In this case, the term mundum changes into the mundhum because the alveolar is changed into the dental aspirated /dh/ because it might be the influence of the Nepali language.[60] Although, the concept is the same, the term mundum has different variants among different subgroups of Rai. Gaenszle (2002: 40–42), who has done pioneering work in the field of Kirati ritual, has extensively studied about it and collected different terms, which are as follows:

Tribes and Clans[edit]

Rais- lineage system

Rais have distinct cultural tradition. The community is divided into different subtribes called "Thar" all have their own distinctive language or dialect this division of Rais into various subtribes allows for the minor alterations in the ritualistic practices while the essence of the traditions remains homogeneous largely. within the "Thar" there are clan division called "Pacha". clans are exogamous. There is further classification within the Pacha known as "Samet". Samet traces the relationship of a person to his/her ancestor. Pacha and Samet is main ritual identity of Rais, which is compulsory needed in every ritual performance.[62][63]

Sub-groups or Lingustic groups of Rais[64][edit]

  • Bantawa
  • Chamling
  • Kulung
  • Mewahang
  • Bahing
  • Lohorung
  • Puma
  • Dumi
  • Dungmali
  • Nachhiring
  • Lingkhim/Lungkhim
  • Chhiling/Chhulung
  • Mugali/Lambichong
  • Athpahariya
  • Thulung
  • Khaling
  • Newahang
  • Bayung
  • Yamphu
  • Tilung
  • Sampang
  • Wambule
  • Dewas
  • Jerung/Jero
  • Waling
  • Phangduwali

(Pacha): Clans of different Rai sub-groups[65][66][edit]

Athpahariya Rai (Pacha);Clans
  • Mangbung
  • Pangsung
  • Hombarak
  • Chhara
  • Fhokim
  • Khawadup
  • Chhitlinge
  • Kimdang
  • Chhongden
  • Charingme
  • Roduwa
  • Lengsuwa


Bantawa Rai(Pacha); Clans
  • Suptihang
  • Rongchong Hangkhim
  • Walung Hangkhim
  • Subi Hangkhim
  • Lipchu Hangkhim
  • Dungrang Hangkhim
  • Samsong Hangkhim
  • Nira Hangkhim
  • Sorong
  • Suprong
  • Rongchhawa
  • Rangrisa
  • Rungmahang
  • Rupabung
  • Ruchhenbung
  • Tangluwa
  • Luhun
  • Aawai
  • Mukarung
  • Yupachha
  • Hangbung
  • Essara
  • Bhongla Essara
  • Chaudara Essara
  • Dawa Essara
  • Dharana Essara
  • Kamdung Makara
  • Duppden Makara
  • Rangsaakkwamakara
  • Lakkwahang Makara
  • Tarakhuk Makara
  • Walihang
  • Chhopkkhng
  • Waling
  • Lengmuk
  • Nikhunnta
  • Longgakha
  • Alihara
  • Gawrung
  • Sohonnwa
  • Khammwen
  • Sangsung Essara
  • Soyong
  • Srihang
  • Walung
  • Yakkduhang
  • Khahong
  • Khayakhahong
  • Rangmi
  • Namrangwok
  • Haddem
  • Radhung
  • Gaamure
  • Mangpahang
  • Mangfang
  • Dhichangcha
  • Waredowa
  • Succhha
  • Tangluwa
  • Ninamthali
  • Mukarung
  • Khomyungkha
  • Rachhenbung
  • Pittring
  • Kangmang
  • Chhentong
  • Payaon
  • Waanu
  • Hongchhen
  • Khimdung
  • Dikukkpa
  • Ratthangkha
  • Yangma
  • Waralung
  • Sonahang
  • Rangchhihang
  • Kamdung
  • Khamle
  • Khumsang
  • Khasngchha
  • Khokungkha
  • Gawra
  • Chhamalung
  • Tammla
  • Taarung
  • Chopkhang
  • Chwrase
  • Chhichhangchha
  • Tukkchha
  • Tenkum
  • Tale
  • Taleme
  • Taila
  • Deyama
  • Tenchipa
  • Duppdenghang
  • Dhiwatpang
  • Nakkchhong
  • Pawen
  • Puwaai
  • Waachhana
  • Baartang
  • Baardewa
  • Butang
  • Mutel
  • Makkrihang
  • Yahasam
  • Makme
  • Mulahang
  • Mangkuk
  • Thuppchhang
  • Yongchhen
  • Dewahang
  • Aawai
  • Dissimmbung
  • Lulahang
  • Leknadu
  • Pakmang
  • Siptungkha
  • Samsuyan
  • Saallen
  • Siwahang
  • Soyong
  • Hangwang
  • Suppting
  • Chhitpahang
  • Mannduppa
  • Fulahang
  • Hangsung
  • Khimbu
  • Dilungcha
  • Murmahang
  • Bungchhihang
  • Moni
  • Maya
  • Subajra
  • Sakkten
  • Hangdung
  • Kangmang
  • Khamlo
  • Khamto
  • Samsohang
  • Rarahang
  • Muksu
  • Khimbule
  • Kheshang


Bahing/Bayung Rai (Pacha);Clans
  • Sechocha
  • Lutimi
  • Piyacha
  • Tarkasya
  • Tolocha
  • Kharadibuchra
  • Chyaskucha
  • Diwuricha
  • Nomwesra
  • Dungmocha
  • Chytoppa
  • Hojupacha
  • Mosracha
  • Thamrocha
  • Howdullcha
  • Mupucha
  • Kharayellcha
  • Ripocha
  • Kharullcha
  • Rallocha
  • Namysracha
  • Prongmocha
  • Yumbucha
  • Chyemcha
  • Rakycha
  • Mopplocha
  • Tangdocha
Chamling Rai (Pacha);Clans
  • Humdingchha
  • Yalungchha
  • Lipohochha/Lipungchha
  • Ninambongchha
  • Ranahochha
  • Saidachha
  • Salebrichha
  • Potokhamchha, Kheresungchha
  • Pitrungchha
  • Bolemchha
  • Sotrochha
  • Kuwasungchha
  • Kholapachha
  • Homyungchha
  • Walemrungchha
  • Yatimchha
  • Robohuchha
  • Dobalichha
  • Chandachha
  • Siyalungchha
  • Dungbohochha
  • Sorohachha
  • Wabhachha
  • Poteprungchha
  • Puruwachha
  • Damdihachha
  • Robohochha
  • Silohochha
  • Mayarajachha
  • Birachha
  • Bumakhamchha
  • Chipanamchha
  • Hopprachha
  • Nagasachha
  • Handiwachha
  • Rosingchha
  • Wasungchha
  • Meretipachha
  • Khadaichha
  • Luicheichha
  • Khinpachha
  • Dibuchha
  • Nambiwachha
  • Buwaipachha
  • Khalungchha
  • Habungchha
  • Lumbohong
  • Potokhamchha
  • Lafeyongchha
  • Dikalichha
  • Plamhachha
  • Seralungchha
  • Romrochha
  • Homihachha
  • Rasungchha
  • Huruchha
  • Mitapaichha
  • Mukarachha
  • Ingchhorochha
  • Bhusununamchha
  • Dilapachha
  • Hondaichha
  • Miksipachha
  • Ranarungchha
  • Rungritimchha
  • Boingchha Chuidachha
  • Hondarichha
  • Ninochha
  • Rakhimihachha
  • Munsinchha
  • Purumichha
  • Busurichha
  • Patisungchha
  • Ninamrungchha
  • Rodolechha
  • Runchimichha
  • Koimingchha
  • Thaparaichha
  • Harasungchha
  • Saterungchha
  • Senamchha
  • Homdimchha
  • Chhulapachha
  • Huilungchga
  • Badachha
  • Sapsanmchha
  • Nenungchha
  • Kerumungchha
  • Mansungchha
  • Malekungchha
  • Mompolangchha
  • Nambuchapachha
  • Purimchha
  • Pogumsonchha
  • Ringalungchha
  • Yongchhenchha
  • Howabungchha
  • Maidungchha
  • Mukumarachha
  • Munglohachha
  • Yunglingchha
  • Valingrachha
  • Prorungchha
  • Palangmochha
  • Hopechungchha
  • Dibuchha
  • Homichha
  • Handyungchha
  • Busuriamchha
  • Dahingchha
  • Dalahachha
  • Birahachha
  • Namrachha
  • Karkungchha
  • Laphengchha
  • Butepachha
  • Phlomochha
  • Chhupanamchha
  • Phakerungchha
  • Yinchharachha
  • Simhanchha


Chhiling/Chhulng Rai (Pacha);Clans
  • Ganchu
  • Phangphu
  • Longawa
  • Chhongkha
  • Rajbangsi
Chhintang Rai (Pacha); Clans
  • Naika
  • Tele
  • Dalahang
  • Sampang
Dumi Rai (Pacha);Clans
  • Khabachu
  • Dimmchu
  • Waalakkpa
  • Raichu
  • Ripplachu
  • Khaaruwu
  • Rankasu
  • Rattku
  • Muroha
  • Sarchu
  • Turachu
  • Haamruchu
  • Jipuchu
  • Walappu
  • Sattma
  • Thurrchu
  • Chhachung
  • Halakksu
  • Hajurchhu
  • Luppo
  • Hadi
Dungmali Rai (Pacha) Clans
  • Hangbang
  • Pungwat
  • Pawen
  • Chokhang
  • Salukathenwa
  • Changchha
  • Tumcha
Dewas Rai (Pacha); Clans
  • Dadagoaunle
  • Ghhiganpure
  • Sihapali
  • Gardkhare
  • Bhimtare
  • Dautinge
  • Baghgaounle
  • Manndane
  • Gogitare
  • Pippaltare
  • Paltare
  • Simaltare
  • Bhangtare


Jero/Jerung Rai (Pacha); Clans
  • Tolupe
  • Sutrap Rake
  • Suryabangshi Rake
Kulung Rai (Pacha); Clans
  • Hongelu
  • Chhamniw
  • Morokhu
  • Thorempa
  • Harimmbu
  • Tongwru
  • Ronggenda
  • Hochharaow
  • Fhanelu
  • Gannkhu
  • Gajiwu
  • Sommfuru
  • Wokkho
  • Thhimmra
  • Mayati
  • Rinnho
  • Pidimus
  • Ngopocha
  • Rajiwu
  • Choyocho
  • Tomocho
  • Goduho
  • Matimmbu
  • Torngo
  • Rapykhu
  • Manthayrwu
  • Chhendiwu
  • Pidisai
  • Walakham
  • Wadiri
  • Pokhoti
  • Chhappkoti
  • Chhapdulu
  • Ninam
  • Laowti
  • Honiti
  • Hindukhu
  • Thomros
  • Tomochha
  • Torngo
  • Chhenho
  • Holimmbu


Khaling Rai (Pacha)Clans
  • Karsang
  • Karbhag
  • Tepptha
  • Byollyoru
  • Kimllyamm
  • Aayau
  • Hangkhrwaap
  • Dutam~Dusa
  • Runa
  • Wyaisng
  • Thula
  • Mullku
  • Halokksu~Mahaikamm
  • Radda
  • Hallachyo
  • Mmyullusng
  • Rajallyu
  • Byarlu
  • Hassi
  • Pyalru
  • Kyurittyass
  • Ngme
  • Chhyalos
  • Jyubu
  • Mapya
  • Dikpya
  • Hangkula
  • Salachyo
  • Dorung
  • Gotemmbu
  • Kursang
  • Hangsang
  • Chochimi
  • Khyappchru
  • Jjyummyallu
  • Temmlos
Koyee/Koyu Rai (Pacha);Clans
  • Munchuppa
  • Dhirul
  • Safobo
  • Haduku
  • Temmebi
  • Raipachha
  • Napachha
  • Gawrungpachha
  • Rowachha
  • Kuimichha
Lohorung Rai (Pacha);Clans
  • Khaisong
  • Dekhim
  • Lamsong
  • Chang-kha me
  • Chaba
  • Mikchereng
  • Chaba
  • Ketra
  • Hanglengba
  • Yangkhurung
  • Dakksng
  • Mennawa
  • Lummben
  • Tengsa
  • Khimpu
  • Singlega
  • Yummpang
  • Aanglalammchong
  • Biawa
  • Biksik
  • Dingguwa
  • Seppa
Mewahang Rai (Pacha); Clans
  • Onglung
  • Langchhawa
  • Lummluma
  • Lakkchhawa
  • Yokkchharung
  • Bikksi
  • Chapen
  • Maringo
  • Wachhuhang
  • Temmora
  • Khawahang
  • Lakkfewa
  • Bunglawa
  • Yummpang
  • Kettara
  • Wala Temmora
  • Uttongma
  • Lammdakawa
  • Aayok
  • Langdappa
  • Lennda
  • Longtepppa
  • Walung
  • Langchhong
  • Chhoppchhohang
  • Poyong
  • Rungmi
  • Singlega
  • Thokknam
  • Limmkhim
  • Khawang
  • Sammbewa
  • Dekkchhong
  • Yangdokkchhong
  • Malung
  • Bopptang
Nachhiring Rai (Pacha) Clans
  • Toduwa
  • Hangkhel
  • Happtemalu
  • Pipassko
  • Temmsu
  • Satippa
  • Lammduwa
  • Hareluchha
  • Manthebru
  • Temmdu
  • Hadichi
  • Sigirigo
  • Raseppa
  • Hocherep
  • Homel
  • Ramlai
  • Wademmlu
  • Rammo
  • Ngwachu
  • Nassmi
  • Nachhyopa
  • Thomro
  • Hopoti
  • Rajipo
  • Holati
  • Dewram
  • Mokkthul
  • Rakupo
  • Molltho
  • Dunnte
  • Chemmchimi
  • Chhetoppa
  • Yaatihang
  • Saipo
  • Yoisa
  • Salicham
  • Chhenho
  • Lawati
  • Honiti
  • Kubeti
  • Thomnam
  • Dosim
  • Ribeti
  • Rekkwato
  • Handuku
  • Wireti
  • Guruti
  • Thoppchha
  • Netichhi
Puma Rai (Pacha);Clans
  • Yongduhang
  • Tongmalung
  • Thugrahang
  • Khohong
  • Hadira
  • Methahang
  • Lemmachhit
  • Khirihang
  • Garaja
  • Babihang
  • Hangthangkha
  • Mellongdhong
  • Dumaklung
  • Hennyongchha
Phangduwali Rai (Pacha); Clans
  • Tumchha
  • Yangbang
  • Namek
  • Mangphang
  • Waling
  • Chukkhadang
  • Mangbung
  • Khambu
Sampang Rai (Pacha); Clans
  • Bali
  • Reppsuna
  • Chhetapi
  • Pittrung
  • Bultim, Rangkham
  • Samrungje
  • Samarunng
  • Toriho
  • Torimah
  • Barhamukhi
  • Dammrewa
  • Palung
  • Rayenge
  • Radukhu
  • Hadikhu
  • Sahiduddha
  • Tamangchha
  • Dumangchha
  • Dammrichha
  • Bikachha
  • Nammnuho
  • Essara
  • Bekhum
  • Khaya
  • Bakkchhali
  • Hiradew
  • Holachha
  • Hochmmchha
  • Hirahang
  • Matihang
  • Hangrung
  • Bekkhsung
  • Maremmlung
  • Birang
  • Wasungma
  • Thongrepa
  • Hulubung
  • Bhalu
  • Sampang
  • Rana Sampang


Thulung Rai (Pacha);Clans
  • Chhesang
  • Hangke
  • Lollmi
  • Rippdo
  • Laaffla
  • Ngarcho
  • Ritimo
  • Langtur
  • Khessta
  • Tammpili
  • Llyaanna
  • Wrikkppa
  • Hassti
  • Seljang
  • Sedara
  • Mangkhu
  • Haupa
  • Raiju
  • Jitemol
  • Sswangje, Ngarchhyo
  • Payachhyo
  • Mukkkha
  • Harul
  • Rajideu
  • Wakkmusi
  • Warti
  • Luchhir
  • Chappturi
  • Llyummba
  • Hadikham
  • Khappchuri
  • Rangchhachyo
  • Ssyarli
  • Ddyamur
  • Radur
  • Tammtar
  • Tolinndi
  • Tuta
  • Wakhe
  • Wakham
  • Chyakksu
  • Chennda
  • Luhai
  • Ssyammrechyo
  • Banari
  • Guricha
  • Hadaillyo
Tilung Rai (Pacha);Clans
  • Mukkchhungchha
  • Raingchha
  • Wayungchha
  • Khalumichha
Wambule Rai (Pacha);Clans
  • Mukkacho
  • Brongkhelcho
  • Luwari
  • Dongkhijjcho
  • Nakksochacho
  • Gawracho
  • Tillpacha
  • Summdicha
  • Fhumlacho
  • Wodommcho
  • Riwuwachha
  • Kkyammpacho
  • Gawrung
  • Jerong
  • Homai
  • Rappdo
  • Dorong
  • Hatacho
  • Bhuwacha
  • Mukhiwa
  • Ravongwa
  • Tarbuja
  • Salllocha
Yamphu Rai (Pacha); Clans
  • Kkyassba Mennaba-Cha
  • Yungsaba Mennaba
  • Khakura
  • Khikhura
  • Khommbuwa
  • Prithirya
  • Tyangsa
  • Miringa
  • Mangbakhim
  • Aala
  • Uling
  • Newahang
  • Seppa
  • Chngkha
  • Thipplung
  • Thukkpana
  • Aenndaba
  • Thengak
  • Tharen
  • Chaba
  • Sibaw
  • Soyang
  • Rummbangsa
  • Newa
  • Mingleg
  • Dengseng
  • Ketara
  • Warekhim
  • Mikhuwa
  • Warung
  • Yungba
  • Dadyng
  • Yummpang
  • Khippu
  • Lammsong
  • Lummben
  • Yangkhira
  • Hingguwa
  • Halemmba

Sotang Rai (Pacha); Clans

  • Ngopocho
  • Hoberme
  • Kubiti
  • Payati
  • Ponkiri
  • Thomnam
  • Rukupo
  • Hiusi
  • Riwti
  • Homula
  • Radaku
  • Holumbu



The Rai languages are members of the Sino-Tibetan language family. They belong to the Kiranti group of the Tibeto-Burman languages branch of the Sino-Tibetan family. In the Nepal National Census of 2011, roughly 800,000 respondents declared a Kiranti languages as their "mother tongue". The number of speakers is probably less than this. The Census of India (2001) reported 50,000 speakers of Limbu and Rai in India (most in Sikkim) Linguistic Survey of India n.d.).[74][75]


Kirat Rai womens in Sakela Festival Tundhikel, Kathmandu, Nepal

Sakela is the main Festival of Kirati Rais this festival is celebrated twice in a year as ubhauli in full moon day of the Baisakh and udhauli In full moon day of Mangsir in Kirati Rai villages. since kirati people consider themselves as the followers of the nature they celebrate sakela to worship sky, earth, rivers, and forest on the one hand they pay their tribute towards the died members of their family on the other hand. The Rai People call it with different names like Sakenwa, Sakela, Tosh/Toshi, Bhume, Sakel, Wass, Segro, Sakewa, Dhuulu, Phagulak, Gelang, Gayapuja among the different linguistic group. The dance acting performed in sakela is called Silli. Silli Can be varied from villages to villages in the Beating of Jhyamta Cymbals and Dhol they play with silli are mostly perform their daily activities that are similar to the activities of the human beings similarly the imitate other activities like worshiping the tap and sun the sillis show how people began agriculture like digging tilling, weeding and farming cotton. Likewise, the imitation of the birds and animals is also performed lively. in the soulful silli, the Ancestors like "Tayama-Khiyama", hunter, Chasum, Narawa,"Paruhang-Nayuma" silli are lively performed. Around 45 silli are claimed to be in the existence even today. Kirati Ancestor "Hetchhakuppa" is considered to be the first performer of silli. The major philosophy of Sakela are worship the nature is the basic need of the human beings paying tribute towards ancestors because we are not be there without them.[76]

Nwagi is celebrated during prior to eating the harvested food crops, Kirati-Rais clean the ancestral room(Suptulung) and various New crops are offered to ancestors during Nwagi puja. Nwagi puja also known as (Pirtri puja) Ancestral worship, it is believe that new food crops not be eaten until the Nwagi puja or without offered the ancestors. Nwagi puja is all about offering new food of the year to the ancestors' cook a lot of varieties of food (including alcohol) to offer to the ancestors. this puja perform by priest or elder people (male) of house performs all the rituals. During nwagi celebration also invite family relatives in house. different varieties of foods and alcohol serve to the guests relatives chat with each other and the day ends with the farewell. Kirati Rais call the Nwagi puja by different names and perform it in different ways.[77]

Yele Sambat also known as "Yaledong" By Rai People Maghe Sankranti also celebrate same day. The Yele Sambat calendar is named after the first Kirat king Yalambar. It is said that this calendar started when the Kirat king Yalambar defeated the Gopal dynasty in the Kathmandu Valley. The Yele Sambat calendar begins on 15 January. This new year day is also celebrated as Maghe Sankranti in Nepal when people eat sweet potato and various kinds of yams and sel roti.[78]

  • Wadangmi Festival: Wadangmi is a Major Festival of Rai Community of Khalsa Region of Dhankuta District "Wadangmi" also known as "Papani" this festival started from Kartik Purnima and continues up to fifteen days .[79]
  • Dhwangkum Festival: "Dhwangkum" is a cultural festival celebrated in the origin place of Wambule Rai. It is also called Dhwangkum. According to the Hindu calendar, Janai Purnima is celebrated on a date. As it usually falls in August, it is also called Bhadau Purnima. Wambule calls this date "Dhwangkum Purne" In Dhwangkumo, Libju Upo (Libju Baje), Bhumju Upo (Bhumju Baje), Dibju Upo (Dibju Baje), Sisi Sikari, Earth(Dharti), Sky(Akash) and the ancestors are worshiped.[80]

Folk songs and dances[edit]

Tody in the field of Nepali music, vocal lyrics dance and other arts the Kirati- Rais accupied a large space. Specially Eastern Nepali folk music mostly influence from Rai community.[81]

Folk Songs[edit]

Rai community has rich cultural rituals. Some are well preserved from the earliest time while some others are dying and some are already dead. The community stores a vast number of chham 'songs' i.e. Rungpuwachham, Hakparechham, Yari/Hiyarichham, Saimachham, Sakelachham, Dolokupmachham, Risiya/risiwa, Hopachham,Juwari,Salmaya,Laibari/Lambari Chham,Radamle etc. which are sung for different purposes on specific occasions.

  • "Hiyari Chham" is a special song that is performed on the occasion of the wedding ceremony in the Rai community. this song is a questions and answer song sung both male and female during wedding occasion. This song is sung in "Sungkhim" a (temporary or new house for guests). it is found that singing is done in some places even when the guests are leaving.[82]
  • "Saima Chham" is a song of birth, life and living and it is sung at work and at the waterpoint etc. Saimachham sung specially by women.[83]
  • "Risiya Chham", Risiwa or Risiya is the shamanic song sung by Nakchong, Mangpa, Bijuwa, Nakso, Risiya chham. It is sung in a rhythmic style performed in many ritual works.
  • "Hopmachham" is a great song based on Kirat Rais scriptural music. Etymologically, it is made up of two words hopma 'drink' and chham 'song': a drinking song or more accurately a song that makes you drunk with its charm. In other words, listening to this song one is drugged and enchanted with its magical properties. In order to sing this song, the knowledge of Kiranti oral tradition (Mundum) is necessary. According to the Kirati Rai belief, not anybody can sing the song even if he knows it; only the person who has gained the knowledge to sing it in his dream and has not learned it, can sing it.

a) Starting of the Hopmachham; It is widely believed that hopmachham is a marvelous song. When sung appropriately it could bring rain, light fire, dry green trees, give life to dead trees, attract animals' attention and force them to gather, make one cry, dance or laugh, and make plants and trees obey. For example, in the olden days a Hopmachham singer could make trees tie their tops together and again free them.
b) The ways of singing the Hopmachham; Hopmachham can be sung in two ways, viz. as monologue or duet. In a monologuous or "single" singing, the singer recounts the story of God Paruhang and the Goddess Sumnima. Therefore, we can say that hopmachham is a kind of hymn sung by Rai community. This kind of song addresses the history of creation as well as the deeds of Paruhang, the first man, and Sumnima, the first woman, which are today knows as Kiranti rituals. Singing hopmachham, the singer tells the history of origin from pre-historical age up to the present times. Naturally, it takes many days to complete it. General living styles can also be explained by these types of songs. People used to sing single hopmachham at work, on their way back from work and in the evening at home before sleeping time.[84]

  • "Rungpuwachham" is as a branch of hopmachham, in which the singer describes the historical and cultural events as well the description of the bravery of the forefathers. Rungpuwachham is almost extinct these days.
  • "Sakela/Sakenwa Chham" is sung during the Sakela dance in Ubhauli and Udhauli The Rai people express their daily happenings and well wishes via Sakela songs and melodies. This song is performed in medium beat rhythm by dancers wearing traditional attires. Sakela song and dance are very popular in Nepali Culture.
  • "Hakpare Chham" can also be taken as a folk song in Kirant Rai community. This song can be sung anywhere and by anybody and in anytime.hakpare chham is popular folk song specially in Yamphu,Lohorung and Mewahang Rai community[85]
  • "Laibari/Lamwari Chham" is one of the ancient original folk song of the Rais. In Bantawa Rai language "Laam" means Root "Wa"Means Water and "Ri" means Song "life song of rivers and streams".this folk song is an endangered already extinct these days.[86][87]
  • "Ramdale Salang" is one of the most popular folk song sung mostly in Wambule Rai community Madal and Basuri is major instruments used in Ramdale Salang folk song.
  • "Salmaya" is a typical cultural song specially Jerung and Wambule Rai communities performed Salmaya song during Khauma Sama Pujas, ancestor worship ritual.
  • "Ayosa" is popular in the Kirat Rai community. Ayosa is a song sung by a Brothers-Siters or Boys-Girls in a group, in a herd, in a forest or in a marriage. Ayosa songs are especially expressions of life experiences. When modern music was not developed, it was customary to sing Ayosa to the tune of Murchunga, Binayo, Paat(leaf Instrument) and Basuri.

Folk Dances[edit]

  • "Silli Dance": Silli dances are performed during Udhauli , Ubhauli Sakela Festival Silli dances are different styles and types among the various Rai sub-group. in silli dances the major instruments used Jhyamta and Dhol some Rai group only used Jhyamta in their silli dances. Kulung, Khaling, Thulung, Nachhiring Rais also used animal Horn (Pung Baja) in silli dances.
    Traditional Instruments of Silli Dance
    Silli are mostly perform their daily activities that are similar to the activities of the human beings similarly the imitate other activities like worshiping the tap and sun the sillis show how people began agriculture like digging tilling, weeding and farming cotton. like wise the imitation of the Birds and animals, depiction of hunting, war etc. can be seen in silli dance.[88]
  • "Wadangmi Papani", also knowan as Papani or wadangmet this dance perform during Wadangmi festival. Wadangmi is a great festival of Rai community in Khalsa region of Dhankuta District. The dancing style of wadangmi is steps forward, three steps later, with the help of shoulder, the body communicates and dances to the beat of Dhol and Jhyamta, singing songs of love, harmony and devotion. It is like a celebration of love. At this time, no one should scold or fight, if they scold or fight the ancestor deity Budhahang will unhappy. At this time, there is a popular belief that if a boy offers love to a girl or a girl offers love to a boy, he should not complain. "This festive dance beautifully embodies the issue of women's freedom and also shows that women do not have to endure any pressure at this time.[89]
  • "Chhonglak", also the part of Wadangmi Chhonglak is the language of the Rais of the Khalsa region of Dhankuta District. The word "Uchompakma" and "Lakwat" means to come from the soul to be happy, to forget all sorrows and get up. "Lak" means to dance happily. It is also said that it is time for the gods and goddesses to come to the Khalsa region. This is the initial stage of the Wadhangmi dance, which is celebrated throughout the Chhonglak festival to make happy the souls of the gods and goddesses.
  • "Hopcha" is the traditional classical dance of Rai community and is mostly practiced in Dhankuta Region .
  • "Hurla" is cultural dance of Yamphu Rais of Sankhuwasabha District it is perform in the month of Mangsir (November–December) Hurla dance is performed with singing song during rice harvesting season in paddy field. this dance also called Paddy dance(Dhan Nach).[90]
  • "Shamanistic Dance" performed by Bijuwa,Nakchhong,Nakcho,Bijuwa Mangpa Shamans of Rai Community in various Ritual activities.
  • "Maruni Dance" is a Popular Nepali folk Dance there are different types of Maruni dances Rai Community also perform maruni dance in various occasions Adhiya Maruni,Madale Maruni are very popular Maruni dances in Rai Community.[91]

Folk Musical Instruments[edit]

Some of the musical instruments found in Rai community are: Dhol,Jhyamta Binayo, Murchunga, Murali/Bansuri, Mandala (madal), Jhyali, Majira, Bimbilia, Sumbak),Khakuma,Pung,Sillimi,Yalamberbaja etc.[92]

Kongkongma or Binayo is a traditional Kirati- Rai Instrument made from hidden Malingo species of bamboo. Binayo is made by digging in the middle of a small bamboo-about six-inch stream, removing the tongue, tying the thread on both sides and carving a beautiful pattern. Binayo made in this way is played by shaking the long rope of the bar in front of the tongue When playing in this way, Binayo is placed on both the lips of the mouth to make various vakas and the vibration caused by the push of air from inside is affected by the tongue.This instrument is carried by a Kirat Rai woman hanging on the tuna of her cholo.

  • Dhol Bubuk Ken

The main rhythm instrument of the Kirat Rais is Dhol or (Bubuk ken). This instrument is mainly used in Sakewa (Sakela dance) in some places mangpa and Bijuwas are also used for worship while sitting in the place . It is also a popular instrument in Nepal.

Along with the Dhol, Jhyamta (Munikomma) is also played in Sakewa Sakela dance. In some places, Bijuwa and Mangpas are also used for worship while sitting in the place.

Among the various bamboo instruments, the Yalambar is one of the most important and original instrument of the Kirat Rais . By keeping the eyes on both the sides of the bamboo, the choya of the same bamboo is taken out and a four-cornered hole is made in the middle of the bamboo choita chaper. This instrument is also an indicator of musical civilization.

Murchunga Or Kakkong made of iron is the original traditional instrument of Kirat Rais. It is customary for Kirat Rai youths to give this instrument as a gift to their favorite friends.

Sumbak or leaf instrument is a musical instrument that is played by holding the side of a smooth leaf between two lips and taking out various vakas. This instrument is especially popular in Kirati community of Eastern Nepal,Sikkim,Darjeeling region.

Khakuma or Charibaja is an instrument made of bamboo. this instrument is called Charibaja or (Khakuma) because it sounds like a bird when it is blown of the mouth.

Pung is an instrument played by blowing the horn of Animal Wild buffalo with a hole in the top and placing a Malingo pipe in that small hole. This baja is played along with Dhol-zyamta with Nokcho (Shaman Priest) when going to worship at Tosh or Toshi,Wass (Sakela) Than. This instrument is a traditional instrument prevalent in the Khambu Rai community. This instrument is used with special importance by the Kulung, Khaling, Thulung, Nachhering of the Rai community. Its sound is similar to that of a conch shell.

  • Murali Bibilimma

Murali (Bibilimma) Flute is made of small bamboo of Malingo species. Nigalo Malingo bamboo is very good for to make Murali flute . It is cut horizontally on one side and a thin bamboo choya or bhakkimila wood is placed there and a hole is made. On the other side, 6–7 hole are placed. To play it, you put the side of the flute in your mouth and blow it slowly, then the sound starts flowing from there. In order to convert this flowing sound into music, the holes covered by the fingers are covered and opened in order. When playing the flute in this way, a very melodious voice flows. It is the most beloved instrument of Kirat Rais.

  • Jharky Thal Chambyken

Chambyken (Jharky Thal) Bronze Plate are especially played by Mangpa, Bijuwa, Nakchhongs when they Chanting Mundum mantras.

  • Jor Murali

Jor Murali (Two in One Flute) is endangered folk instrument of Kirat Rais. Jor Murali is played by tying two strings made of bamboo sticks with the same sound. Kirat Rai style of Jor Murali Baja is left to make in the present days. this Instrument have already become extinct.

Dhyangro or (Sangra Ken) is mostly used by Khambu Rai Shamans; Mangpa, Bijuwa, well as their allies Kencharawa.

  • Sillimi

This silimi is made by placing 12 rings side by side in a flat elongated shape made of iron and placing four rings under the lower grip. The silimi baja is played by holding the sili dance in one's hand and shaking it with the dance moves. This is the traditional instrument of the Rai Community

Madal is one of the most popular instruments in Nepali music today. This Madal wooden stone is made of Animal leather, coal, rice husk and other materials. It is believe that Madal was made after the Yalambar Baja of the Kiratis. Madal has a special cultural significance in Wambule Rai community.

Basuri is also a major folk Instrument among Kirat Rais. Basuri has a Special Cultural significance important of Wambule Rai community.[93]

  • Suseli Suisuila

The Kirat Rais used Susulila/Suseli as sweet music. Whistling can be done only with the mouth without the help of any object, while using the fingers of the hand in the mouth is also used to transmit signals far and wide.[94]

Kangling is mostly used by Rai (Shamans) Mangpa, Bijuwa, Nakchong during ritual activities


Terrace farming Hillsides around Bung Hongu Valley Lower Solukhambu dominant inhabited region of Rai People of Kulung sub group

Farming is the main occupation of the Rai people. Mostly they cultivated maize, millet, wheat, mustard in dry terraces, and rice in the wet fields. The grains grown are mostly for their own daily needs such as to use in festivals and to feed the animals. Besides that they use it to make spirits and beer to sell at the bazar at the local market. In almost all households women raise buffalo, pigs and chickens, and they run tiny provision stores for supplementary income, especially used to sell homemade beer and alcohol (Lee, 2005:16). In the past their profession was hunting and they liked to use bow and arrows, such as they used to weave their own clothes made from Bhangra (allo) to wear. But in the modern times Rais are also employed in foreign military service and in foreign employment like the Indian Gorkha Regiment , British Gurkha Regiment , Gurkha Contingent of Singapore Police Along with their relatives they had the opportunity to work and stay aboard in countries like United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Brunei and India. Because of that financially, comparing to other indigenous groups, they are better off. Daily housework, such as cooking is the responsibility of the young women, especially girls,. They tend to be the ones who gather firewood from the forests and carry water from the communal water sources while men are mostly involved in the agriculture activities. Inherently, Kirati people use the land under the Kipat system where the people exercised communal rights over the land, land that was tax free and included dominion over all cultivated lands, forests, streams and rivers within its bounds (Bista, 1967:38). But, it is the system that if other groups used the Kipat they have to pay tax to the owner of the land. People used to farm their land on their own, seldom are fields rented or cultivated by anyone others than the owners. Almost every single Rai village has a few soldiers, police or civil servants and older pensioners. Because of their bravery, fearlessness, honesty and straightforward nature it's easy for them to join the armies. But, nowadays most Rais are also working with the government services too (ibid: 39). These types of professions really show the Rai people as a hard working people. The planting and harvesting seasons from spring to autumn gives them plenty of work to do and in winter time villagers make trips towards the important towns to buy necessary goods such as salt, oil and materials for clothing. They carry goods for trade rather than money on these trips. One farmer may have several fields and they shift from one to another according to the seasons. Traditional Bullocks are used for ploughing the land, the grass and dry undergrowth are burned away, supplying the soil with ash residue (ibid: 38). A majority of the people are in debt, the usual practice for money transaction to be made against security in the land.[95]

Notable Rai people[edit]

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External links[edit]