Thursday, December 13, 2012

This blog is discontinued.

Hi There,

This old, very old blog. I have discontinued this blog. 
Basically, I don't believe in caste, religion and division of people based on community, nationality or colour of skin. If you want to know more about me, please visit my regular blog or email me at noblenara[at]gmail[dot]com

If you feel like you have lost your identity and want to trace back your roots, please start from some research articles. I can recommend one here 'Chhantyal, the forgotten miners of Nepal' 


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Our Culture and Tradition

A Chhantyal woman with child on her. It is the commen scene we can she in the hilly reagions where there is no child care centres. Most of working women take care of them.
Manglekhani, a Chhantyal Kham speaking village in Myagdi District.

Children taking care of smaller one. It is also a socio-economic obligation in most of chhantyal villages. In addition to formal scooling, children has to work.

A typical festival celebration.

Aaran, place where chhantyals make their tools. The toolmaker is Bishowkarma (Kami), a member from traditianally low caste community. Chhantyal and Kami had special relationship during the mining period. Kamis helped to extract Copper from Copper Ore.

Inside the house of chhantyal family. Fireplace is in the centre.

A woman on the roof of house. She is drying some beens on sunlight.

A chhantya woman carrying water on her back.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Introduction to Chhantyal Community and Their Ingenuity

Chhantyal Community is an ethnic group among nearly seventy nationalities in Nepal, who has concentration in western part of the country. Chhantyals are considered as indeginious nationality by the Government of Nepal. Baglung and Myagdi are two districts in Dhaulagiri Zone where most of chhantyals are living. Other districts includes Mustang, Gulmi , Rukum, and Parbat. Nowadays, because of migration trend there is notable population of chhantyals in Kathmandu Valley, Rupandehi, Kaski, Dang and Chitwan districts. Chhantyals are traditionally living with other castes commonly. There is hardly any village totally controlled by chhantyals. Instead population of village is composed of two or more than two ethnic groups. In some villages chhantyals are major group and in other villages as minority group.

Chhantyals have their own culture, tradition, rituals, language, and religion. However chhantyals’ language known as chhantyal kham is near to extinct. Most of chhantyals in Baglung have ceased to speak chhantyal kham many years ago. Some efforts has been made but the goal to preserve it is somewhat far from current efforts. Main problem with chhantyal kham is that there is no written alphabets. Some words and expression are akin to (Tamu) Gurung kham language, but these two are separate khams with distinct identity and history.

Currently they are estimated to be around 20,000. According to a survey conducted my its sole organization, Nepal Chhantyal Sang, total population was 10,521 and 1,519 households. One of the major distinct characteristics of the community is marriage tradition. It is different from Magars, their closest group, and also with Aryans. Traditionally they marry inside their twelve clans. Community’s clans or family groups are given below.

Clans or Family Groups inside Chhantyal Community

1. Bhalanja (Valanja) Chhantyal
2. Budhathoki Chhantyal
3. Dandamare Chhantyal
4. Gharabja Chhantyal
5. Gharti Chhantyal
6. Ghyapchan Chhantyal
7. Jhingraja Chhantyal
8. Khadka Chhantyal
9. Potlange Chhantyal
10. Purane Chhantyal
11. Tathapja Chhantyal
12. Singe Chhantyal

As a matter of faith, chhantyals worship nature and their ancestor’s spirit. They give animal sacrifice on trees, hills, source of water and other special places like farm, inside house etc. Because of Hinduism’s pressure in 19th century, chhantyals have mixed worshiping style after that time. Historically, many mongoloids are close to Buddism including chhantyals. But Buddism has less effect on the original tradition, which chhantyal community is still following. Mghe-Sankranti and Saune-Sankranti are two major festivals. These two festivals has special importance on nature and ancestor’s spirit worship. Dashain and Tihar, Hindu’s major festivals, are also celebrated as special occasition.

Chhantyals were skilled miners. They used to mine copper ores. Amazing point about the chhantyals is that they didn’t used any scientific tools to mine. They could survey the area with mind, taste and smell the soil and rock to locate the copper ore. When found, they used to go far inside the hills and it took many years to complete. There are many caves, long and big holes inside mountains, landslides, cut hills which were made during the mining time. This fact says their braveness, ingenuity and ability to discover the particular things. Sadly, they left their original profession because of Nepal Government’s intense pressure by imposing high tax rate. Today, farming is major occupation for survival in the community. Foreign remittance also plays vital role as most of the young people goes to other countries as labor force.

(This is short account about the chhantyal community. People anyone can join in this discussion. I have taken help from some books written by chhantyals but most of the article is designed with real experience as being myself a chhantyal. I m still in my quest on the economic impact of mining and price of loss after chhantyals left the profession)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Response to 'Chhantyals: The Forgotton Miners of Nepal' on the blog link

Dear Netaliaashish.
You have a great article about the chhantyals. It seems it is some kind of academic or research paper. Anyway it's great in itself. I have some comments on you.
Accourding to your writing: Unfortunately alternate ways of finding a clue about their past is to no avail because Chhantyals were nomadic and took farming only about half a century ago. Chhantyals were miners; since the twelfth century the Chhantyals have been mining copper ore and paying taxes to the Nepali government. Interestingly, they used no tools while mining; they would survey the area, taste the soil and rocks to pinpoint the exact location of the mine! Being miners they lived around the mines. Thus, the traditional Chhantyal villages in Myagdi and Baglung still have a suffix-“khani” meaning ‘mine’ in Nepali. Although traditional miners, they did not have the ownership of the mines but they were mere workers. The hard working Chhantyals used to mine for seven months per year beginning on the full moon day in Mangshir (November-December) and ending on full moon day of Jestha (May-June). There were a total of 44 mines in Baglung and Myagdi which were mined by the Chhantyals and Magars as well.
Here you stated that chhantyals mined since 12th century. But there is wonderful tale about the mining. There was war and compitition of powers between state to state before unification of Nepal. When chhantyals lost battle with some kings whuch caused them to hide on hills. They started to make holes where the iron ore originally discovered. So, chhantyals must had started to mine too much later than u stated.
There were a total of 44 mines in Baglung and Myagdi which were mined by the Chhantyals and Magars as well.
Obviously there were total 44 mines. But it was not mined by magars. They mined in the present day Okharbot VDC, Myagdi. But it was later than chhantyals mined. When chhantyals left their brave and wonderful profession, magars started to mine and continued for a while.
These are the matters I have found that must be discussed on my quick read. I am still pondering on many claims you made on the article. I will post later. Anyway, you have again very respectable writing and research. Keep posting. Hope debate, discussion and help will follow between us.
For readers see original post:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Physical History of 'Chhantyal': Example from Khungkhani

It is landslide. 'Pahiro' is one of the major problem in most of the chhantyal villages. It goes back to their original history.

Landslide in Khungkhani, this a example of recent degredation.

Our ancestors were used to work in mining. They discovered many useful metals and dug up the whole hills. They were so brave to do that. Still there is proof. This mining leaded to big landslides and other geographical degredation. There are many places called ' Thulo Pairo' ' Sano Pairo' ( Big landslides, small landslides etc.)

Monday, January 5, 2009

What Does it mean to be 'CHHANTYAL'.

I add someone stranger to my friend list just because he/she has tag as 'chhantyal' on Facebook. I search on Google and if found anything, I love to read about. Sometimes when we got online we talk a lot. We talk about native village, some relatives, education etc. Why we do that? Threre must be more than just 'chhantyal' tag which pulls us together in this teach-world.

We are lost Peagon in the group of Crows. We are now all over the world. Someone is working as labourer in Japan. His brother is studyig in US. One is applying for PR in Europe, other are struggling in Australia. Some relatives are working for survival in hilly and mountain region of western Nepal. Enthuaistic youths are being trained and fighting in the fierce battlegrounds of the world. Obviously some___may be majority, are going to gulf countries dreaming posterity. In this story of survival, we have changed or original culture and tradition. We have tested, applied and adopted a flexible lifestyle. And this type of lifestyle, in some cases, is searching its backbone i.e. identity.
I sometimes ask myself ' Why I write my last name as 'chhantyal', which most of people don't know?'. It is to prove legally that I m my father's son and my grandfather's grandson. In my college, most of my friends call me 'Mr. Chhantyal' ( Interestingly majority of them don't know my name) not because I have distenctive identity, but because I am alone in that college.

Most of we are alone in our institution, workplace and community. So, it is blessing for us to be 'chhantyal' tag after our name. Only in that tag, our identity is hidden. Our love and respect to fellow person is manifested. Our culture and tradition is 'preserved', rather than in our daily lives. Sometimes metaphysics ( and assumptions) works better than the real physical world.
Copyright: Nar Kumar Chhantyal

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Short Identity or Lost Identity?

Copyright: Michael Noonan