Caste and communities
In Tamang society research found four types of specialist namely, Lama (Priest of Tamang and other few ethinic groups following Tibetan Buddhism), Tamba, Ganba and Bonbo. The Lama who considered to acquired the knowledge of from the Lamaist Buddhism and from its texts, while Tamba are called antiquarian of Tamang ancestral history, and Ganba helps to complete the any of the ceremony with his knowledge of rites and customs of the community. The Jhākri is called witch-priest, acquire the magical power from god and goddess of Jungle and protects the Tamang people from distress, illness, and any form of evil power. Together, these four aspects of the Tamang society, continues the flow of Tamang tradition.
Tamang is categorized into two sections “12 Tamang & 18 Jaat or Tamang”. The twelve Tamang is believed to be pure descendant of Lord ‘Maheswar’ (Vansitart 1909:141). These Tamangs are socially higher than the ‘Eighteen Jaat’ (Vansitart 1909:142). The concept of ’12 Tamang and 18 Jaat’ is interpreted by many writer as “12 Jaat and 18 Jaat”, this reflects the notion of caste hierarchy in Tamang like Hindu social order. But this classification of caste hierarchy in Tamang like Hindu social structure does not prove the existence of caste system in Tamang. There are absent of higher and lower caste. The concept of 12 Tamang and 18 Jaat Tamang shows that the 12 Tamangs are pure and who had occupied the settled in particular place hereditary and 18 Jaat Tamang are those who gets birth from the union of Tamang men and women of Newar, Gurung, Magar etc. The Thar of 12 Tamang is same as of the 18 Jaat Tamang, but 12 Tamangs believes themselves higher than the clan or Thar of 18 Jaat Tamangs who are the offspring of mixed marriage system. So, according to the Hemendorf (1955-56) in his “Ethnographic notes on the Tamang of Nepal” vol-9 states that classification of 12 and 18 Tamang is not based on caste but it is based on the ‘pure Tamang and mixed blood Tamang’.
According to the Vansitart in his book ‘Gorkhas’ (1909), the Tamang are primarily divided into 12 tribal groups, who had occupied the certain territory, which became the line of identification of these Tamangs. They were inhabited in their ancestral area (Kipat) which made them pure 12 Tamangs. According to Vansitart (1909), ‘Eighteen Jaat Tamang’ is broadly divided into three groups. These are (1) Gothar, (2) Nharba, (3) Shangri. These Tamangs do not have sub clan. In traditional tamang society, the marriage with other caste is not permitted, if anyone one do so, and then have to face consequence of ostracized from the Tamang clan system and get the new clan or Thar by the offspring of such marriage. Such marriage makes the eighteen Jaat Tamang who is below than the pure 12 Tamangs, and have to purify them for three generation to get the earlier place in pure Tamangs. If a Tamang man marries to woman of Brahman, Chettri or Thakuri of Khas caste then his child bear the clan of Gothar. This is neither pure Tamang nor ostracized Tamang but this is the clan which is subject to purify. The child of Tamang men and Newar women become the Nharba. And child from the intimacy with Magar, Limbu, Gurung, Rai and Sunuwar woman, will get the Thar of Shangri.
Concept of clan”Swangey Bhai” in Tamang
Tamang social structure is very traditional and one of the instances of this system is Thar Brotherhood. The Thar or clan who worship the similar kuldevta considered the ‘Swangey Bhai’ by the Tamang people. The Tamang community does not marry within the Swangey Bhai Thars or they are considered as brothers from the same ancestor. As Parsuram Tamang in his book have given names of Swangey Bhai of 18 Thars of Tamang. They are follows:
|1||Dong||Grangdan, Goley, Titung, Bal, Dimdong, Gongba, Gyamden, Dartang, Gangtang|
|2||Yonzon||Bonzan, Dumzan, Lopchan, Mikchan|
|3||Ghising||Lo, Glan, Yhesur|
|4||Moktan||Syangdan, Pakhrin, Syangbo, Thokar|
|5||Rumba||Zimba, Gyaba, Waiba, Gongba|
|6||Lopchan||Chothen, Blenden, Shyongsun, Nharten, Galden|
|9||Lo||Loba, Ghising, Glan|
|13||Singar||Yhesur, Thing, Toisang, Blon|
|16||Gyapa||Rumba, Zimba, Waiba, Gongba|
|17||Thokar||Moktan, Syangdan, Pakhrin, Syangbo|
|18||Pakhrin||Syangdan, Moktan, Syangbo, Thokar|
The tradition, social customs and moral values of Tamang are still alive in the form of oral tradition. These tradition and customs are made by the ancestors to tackle with the contemporary economy and production which is encircled by the Rhui to organized the society, according to the prevalent social and political situation. The codification and formalization of Tamang customs and tradition is absent but such norms and moral values are transmitted to new generation through oral culture by ancestors which enabled the Tamang people to follows such values of high morality with enthusiastically. Considering the Tamang tradition, they are very rigid in the case of bone-related marriage system. Moreover they ostracized the clan member from the social system who does not follow bonerelation of Tamang, they do not ostracize the couple but even their children too not accept by the society.
Tamangs are represented by Tamsaling Rastriya Mukti Morcha and Tamsaling Nepal Rastriya Dal. The umbrella group Mongol National Organisation supports self-determination and works against said discrimination not just for Tamangs but for all groups in Nepal. The MNO is against conversion to Hinduism of non-Hindus. It currently holds no official parliamentary vote. The Federal Limbuwan State Council (FLSC) also works towards similar goals for self-determination for the Kirati peoples, who co-mingle with Tamangs, citing a reneged treaty with Kathmandu for autonomy.The associated Sanghiya Limbuwan Party has participated in calling banda during the 2015 Nepal blockade, nevertheless international press had not only failed to take note of their bandh, but even pretended not to notice their very existence and instead focused intently on 4 party India-backed Madhesi Morcha actions, geopolitical concerns with China, as Limbuwan also opposes both the Madhesi goals as well as Kathmandu’s domination. However, there is rationale to India and Western nation’s denial of information about Limbuwan actions during the fuel blockade, in the 1980s, a violent Gorkhaland movement within India was led by the prominent Tamang Subhas Ghising to which India had viewed as a security threat due to the proximity of the Siliguri Corridor. Madan Tamang, a Tamang-Indian politician, and proponent for Gorkhaland statehood, was assassinated in 2010, with West Bengal government placing blame on another Gorkhaland political party, in effect weakening the movement. Gorkhaland Territorial Administration was then created in place of statehood in India, nevertheless across the border, ethnic discrimination issues regarding the numerous groups (who have taken part in each other’s politics) are left unresolved within Nepal. In 2017 Binay Tamang was appointed as the Chairperson of GTA.
Tamang was derived from the word Tamag, where Ta means “horse”, and Mag means “soldier”.in tibetan language.
Sonam Lochar Festival
Sonam Lhochhar is the main festival of the Tamangs and is celebrated in the month on Magh (February – March).It is celebrated to welcome the Tamang new year.
Colorful flags, printed Buddhist mantra cloths are put up in various places in villages and towns.The Tamangs have a genre of music called ” Tamang Selo“ that is performed with the Damplu instrument, also known as Damphoo Dance, having a brisk movement and rhythmic beat specific to the Tamangs.
The second most important festival is Saga Dawa (Buddha Jayanti) and is celebrated as a religious festival.
Most Tamangs are farmers, engaged in agriculture. Due to the lack of irrigation at higher altitudes, their crops are often limited to corn, millet, wheat, barley, and potatoes. They often supplement their farming income with manual labour. Due to the discrimination experienced by the Tamang people in the past, they have remained on the whole poorly educated, and the majority have been limited to working as farmers, mountain trekking, portering, and driving in Kathmandu. They also work in manufacture of Tibetan rugs, Thankas (Tibetan painting), driving and labour. As far as farming is concerned, Tamang are dependent on rainfall and do not employ modern machinery.
Tamsaling State is a proposed federal state of Nepal which establishes the historical native homeland of Tamang people as a federal state.The historical territories of Tamang is called Tamsaling. The Tamang Autonomous State mandates to reconstruct the district division and create an autonomous Tamsaling province. It includes historically Tamang residing settlements and Tamgsaling dominant zones of Bagmati excluding kathmandu vally. The demand of Tamang Autonomous State also means to re-structure the districts. The territory of the State would consist every historical Tamang settlement, spread east from Ramechap to west Dhading, Nuwakot. Before Shah dynasty in nepal, tamang people had their own kings and leadership. Dr. Anatoly Yakoblave Shetenko visited Nepal on an archaeological study programme under an agreement between Nepal and USSR. He discovered that the tools, weapons and artifacts that date back to the Stone Age (about 30,000 B.C.) at Budhanilkantha were the same as those found in Govy of Mongolia, Asia, and America. Presently such Mongolian artifacts dating back to the Stone Age are found in Yambu (Kathmandu, Budhanilkantha) which prove that the Mongoloids (Tamangs) came by way of Tibet and the Himalayas to Nepal. According to Prof Manik Lal Shresthaand historical evidence it proves that the Tamang community was subjected to attempted genocide because they were very aggressive towards the Gorkha rulers.
Treaking and tourism
Tamang villages are often visited on Nepal’s numerous trekking routes, one being labelled Tamang Heritage Trail.
Who is Tamang?
Tamang make up the largest indigenous peoples among the 59 so far recognized by Nepal government. The term Tamang is made up of two words—Ta which means horse and Mang, which means rider or trader. It is assumed that they were connected with business of horse trading or riding. They have their own distinct religion, language, culture, customs, rituals and lifestyles. They say that they are the original people of Yambu, the Kathmandu valley and there are settlements of Tamang around Yambu even today. But the large number of Tamang community lives in at adjoining districts of Kathmandu valley namely—Rasuwa, Makawanpur, Nuwakot, Dhading, Kavrepalanchowk, Sindhupalchowk, Dolakha and Sindhuli, in the middle hilly region to the Himalayan range of Nepal including in Kathmandu valley. However they are now spread all over the country, and beyond Nepal, they are especially found in large numbers in Darjeling, Sikkim, Asam and Nagaland of India and in Burma and Bhutan. According to the latest national census 2011, their population stands around 1,539,830, which is about 6 percent of the total population of the country. Besides, Nepal an estimation puts that approximately 2 million Tamang live in different parts of India, Bhutan and Burma.
Tamang are very rich in their tradition and culture. They have their own language, culture, dress and social structure. They have over 100 sub-clans. Tamang believe in Buddhism, and famously said that 90 percent of Tamang follow Buddhism as their religion. Their language comes from Tibeto-Burman language family. They follow the Tibetan calendar of the 12-year cycle and their typical song-dance Bhote-selo literally means ‘Tibetan tune’, which is famously known as Tamang selo, which include the songs of humor and wit, satire, joy and sorrow. Tamangs have their own music. Their musical instrument is called Damphu (a small round drum covered with goat skin).
Tamangs have their own language which is called ‘Tamang’ language, comes from Tibeto-Burman language family. According to latest national Census 2011, of the total 1,539,830, as many as 1,353,311 Tamang speak their mother tongue, Tamang language speaking population stands around 90 percent of the total Tamang population.
Lamang Language speaking countries:
Nepal, also Darjeling, Sikkim, Asam and Nagaland of India and in Burma and Bhutan.