Posted by: JPEG June 23, 2009
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Limbu ni beauties at Chyabrung dhol naach

The word Limbu means an archer, or bearer of bow and arrows.  Their ancestral and original stronghold known as Pallo Kirat or Limbuwan spans from Arun River in Nepal to the Kingdom of Sikkim in the east. In Nepal, Limbus live and work in the districts of Sankhuwasabha, Tehrathum, Dhankuta, Taplejung, Panchthar and Ilam. Their scripture is called Mundhum. Fedangba, Shamba and Yeba-Yema are their sacred specialists. Limbus have their own script called Sirijunga. There are many books written in the Limbu language. Their faith is enshrined in the evergreen Cynodondactylon (dubo) grass and rocks. They cremate their dead.

They celebrate the dance festivals of Kelangma popularly known as Chyabrung dhol naach (two-sided drum) and Yalakma (rice harvest dance) as major events. Chyabrung or Ke, a long cylindrical hollow, two-sided drum, is the most popular musical instrument of the Limbu Community. Hence the folks from Limbu community also called this dance "chyabrung naach".
The dancers hang the Chyabrungs around their neck and beat the drum with palm on one side and with a stick on the other side. In this manner, the Limbu dancers execute delicate and complicated foot works to the beats of the Chyabrung. It is a song less dance and is based on rhythmic music. In this age-old folk dance, the Limbu dancers depict graceful movements of wild animals and birds.

Limbus, in general, marry within their own community and also with Rais. Boys are at liberty to choose a girl and girls are equally free to decide whether to spend life with the boy in question or not (Jones and Jones, 1976). Cross-cousin marriage is not allowed in Limbu culture. Marriage between a man and the widow of his elder brother can take place if they mutually agree. Marriage between a man and a woman outside family relations and having different thars (clans) is also possible either by arrangement or by mutual consent of the boy and the girl in question. In Limbu's wedding, asking for a girl's hand is the most important ceremony. In this system, the girl can ask for anything and an unlimited amount of gold, silver, etc. This confirms to the girl's family that the boy is financially secure enough to keep their daughter happy. Few days after the wedding, the boy's family members have to visit the girl's house with a piglet and some alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks depending upon the financial standard of his house. The key ceremonies of a Limbu wedding take place in the groom's house rather than that of the bride's because girl has to stay with her husband. There are two special dances in this ceremony, one is called "yalakma" or dhan nach in Nepali(rice harvest dance) and "Kelangma" or Chyabrung in Nepali. Yalakma is characterized by men and women dancing in a slow circle, whereas Kelangam consist of complex footwork that goes with the beat of the drums. Anyone can join the dance and they can go for long hours. Yalakma also celebrates the harvest season in addition to being a feature of social occasions including weddings.

Points to be taken:
Though Limbus aren't Hindu, they are recognized in Hindu Society. Nepal's pre-eminent sociologist, Professor Dor Bahadur Bista, asserted that, of all the proverbial thirty-six caste and ethnic groups of Nepal, the Hindu caste system made the least impact on the Limbu. In part, this reflected not only their geographical distance from the seat of power in the capital city of Kathmandu but also their cultural independence.

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