Limbu - History and Cultural Relations

In the latter part of the eighteenth century Nepal was formed by uniting various ethnic groups and numerous principalities under a high-caste Hindu dynasty. This conquest resulted in a number of migrations of high-caste Hindu groups into eastern Nepal, causing an ethnic and cultural split with the Limbus. Limbus are considered the first settlers of east Nepal and are thought to be descendants of the Kiratis. Limbus became known to history in the eighteenth century, at a time when a number of small chiefdoms in Limbuan were under the authority of the kingdom of Bijayapur. The Limbus were expected to grant land to the immigrants for their support. The Nepalese government brought all tribal lands (with the exception of certain Limbus) under raikar, "a system of landlordism under which the rights of an individual to utilization and transfer of the land are recognized by the state as long as taxes are paid." Before this system was enforced all Limbu groups held land under the system of kipat, in which "an Individual obtains rights to land by virtue of his membership in a series of nesting kin groups." This change of land tenure caused Limbus to lose lands to the Hindu immigrants, who were mostly of Brahman caste. There were two reasons for this change. First, a shortage of lands was beginning to be felt, and therefore the government dissolved all the Limbuan rights to their kipat lands. A second factor was the absence of ownership documents, which led to legal conflicts over ownership and rent. Surrendered kipat lands helped to finance revenue settlements, postal services, and the army. The Limbus were left only with the land they were living on and cultivating. The Brahmans had some advantages over Limbus: they were skilled and had labor resources that the Limbus lacked and needed. They were also able to read and write, which qualified them for administrative jobs and forced the abolition of the kipat system. In the eyes of the Limbus, Brahmans were "ungrateful servants" who were trusted with their land but "stole" it instead. The Limbus are now determined to salvage their land under the kipat system and refrain from passing it on to members of other groups. Brahmans, at a cost to the Limbus, have become the most authoritarian ethnic group in east Nepal. Resentment is also felt by the Brahmans toward the Limbus; Brahmans regard the Limbus as "simple" and "concerned only for the present." Brahmans feel that if Limbus had looked to the future, they would not have granted their lands. The Limbuan struggle for land is an ongoing process that continues to affect social and political conditions in the region.

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Jul 15, 2012 @ 8:08 am
sewaro limbuwan i salute all those brave limbuwan fightin for our rights.

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