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Uttarakhand Bhotiya are an ethno-linguistic group of people residing in the upper Himalayan valleys of the Kumaon and Garhwal divisions of Uttarakhand state, India and in Darchula district, Nepal. These include the Shaukas of Kumaon and Tolchhas and Marchhas of Garhwal. Their name, Bhotiya, derives from the word Bod (བོད་), which is the Classical Tibetan name for Tibet. Bhotiya is the name used by the Constitution of India, throughout Nepal and by most people of the area. The name Bhutia is also sometimes used, though it more commonly refers to the Sikkimese people.
The Bhotiya speak Almora and other languages belonging to the Tibeto-Burman family, although their dialects are mutually unintelligible to the Kumaoni and Tibetan people. Owing to the social process of Sanskritization, many of them have intermarried with the Hindus over the years. Most of the Bhotiya practice a combination of Tibetan Buddhism, Bön, and Hinduism, although Hinduism is prevalent among the earlier semi-Indian groups, while Buddhism is prevalent among the recent immigrant groups of purer Tibetan origin, such as the Jadh.
Hindu gods such as the weather god Gabla, Runiya, and Suniya, are worshiped to protect their animals from disease. Sidhuwa and Bidhuwa are worshiped to find lost animals.
Groups within the Bhotiya of Uttarakhand include:
The Byansis (called 'Byangkhupa' in 'Rung'), who are a subgroup of an ethnic group called Rung/Shaukas living along the upper valleys of Mahakali and its western tributary Dhauliganga in the Himalayas where Burang County of western Tibet, Darchula District Nepal and Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand India meet. Byans (or 'Byangkho' in 'Rung') consists of seven villages (Kuti, Rongkang, Nabi, Gunji, Napalchyo, Garbyang, Budi) in Uttarakhand, plus two villages in Nepal Chhyangru and Tinkar. Three more villages in Nepal, Sitaula (Syangkang), Dumling and Rapla (Rapang) come under Rung ethnic group, though not considered Byansis, Darmanis or Chaudasis.
The religion practised by the Byansis leans towards Bön-Animism, with influences from Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism. Each clan, of which there are many in each village, has its own clan god(s). Ancestral worship ('simi thuma') is a very important part of Byansi religion.
- J. Murray (1851). The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London. Royal Geographical Society. p. 84.
- Ethnologue profile - Rangkas
- NGIIP. "List of Settlements #6: Darchula district" (PDF). Index of Geographical names of Nepal - Far Western Development Region - Volume V. Kathmandu: National Geographic Information Infrastructure Programme. p. 2 (Byans VDC). Retrieved February 27, 2014.
- NGIIP. "List of Settlements #6: Darchula district" (PDF). Index of Geographical names of Nepal - Far Western Development Region - Volume V. Kathmandu: National Geographic Information Infrastructure Programme. p. 17 (Byans VDC). Retrieved February 27, 2014.
- Heiko Schrader (1988). Trading Patterns in the Nepal Himalayas. Breitenbach. p. 108. ISBN 3-88156-405-5.
- "List of Scheduled Tribes". Census of India: Government of India. 7 March 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2012.