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AN INTRODUCTION TO THE MAJHI TRIBAL NATION

The People

The Majhis are one of the indigenous peoples of the Kingdom of Nepal - possessing their own language, dress, culture, etc.

From the dawn of time the Majhi have had a special and intimate relationship with the rivers of Nepal.

The main traditional occupation of the Majhi people is boat building and riverain transport services in Nepal, with most Majhi living in the inner Terai near rivers.

On average, Majhi people are dark brown in skin complexion, medium in height and well built, they have the classic Mongoloid features typical of East Asia.

Housing

Most Majhi people reside in ancestral places in simple round houses made of stone or clay - having a single door; and always very close to each other. While making a new house a Majhi will check to see if the house spot is suitable or not by mixing the soil of the four corners of the selected site with MERCHA (medecine to prepare JAND). If the soil is tasty, it is believed that the chosen house spot is suitable, if not - it is rejected as an unsuitable location.

Occupation

The ancestral occupation of the Majhi people is to help other people in crossing the many rivers of Nepal in their Majhi made boats, fishing was for their own sustenance.

The Majhi also farm, the women especially sell Merch and Jand in the markets, as well as mats made of pater, Majhi products are considered to be of exceptional quality.

Today a tragedy is unfolding in Nepal - modern bridges and government interference in their traditional working areas is destroying the traditional Majhi way of life.

Religion

Tantrik religion is the Majhi religion, the Majhi have no Temples or man made places of worship, they establish Gods or Godesses at the base of a tree near a river, a primarily animist religious belief.

The main God of the Majhi people is Gharbhimsen, other principal gods are Goresiddhi, Gaidu, Mahadev, Jaurekhee, Setidevi, Ardev, Jangali and Shikari, TOTALA flowers are vitally important in the worship of these deities.

Festivals

It is a terrible tragedy that the great festivals of the Majhi people are in decline - with some on the verge of extinction. Some of these great festivals are KOSHI POOJA, SAUNE SANGRANTI and MARIGSHIRE PURNIMA.

Dress

The traditional Majhi clothing comprisses - KACHCHHAD, BHOTO, ISTKOT & PHETA on head, short GUNYU, black 'kilt', PATUKA & MAJETRO of white cloths. For women - THOKKA of silver on the wrist, HAAR of compani rupee, HASULI of silver and short black POTE around the neck.

Language

The Majhi language is categorised as 'Indo-European' - and is declining rapidly we are sad to say. It is still widely spoken, however, in Kavrepalanchowk, Ramechhap, Dolakha, Okaldhunga and Khotang districts.

Education

It is with great sorrow that the Majhi can only count of a 1.2% literacy level, no Majhi has a Master's degree, only 10 have bachelor's degrees, 25 have certificate level qualifications and 125 have the qualification of

S.L.C.

Only one Majhi is in the Civil Service, 41 in the Police Force, 35 in the Army and 30 in the Teaching profession.

Organisation

Finally the Majhi have began the unification process among themselves in different parts of Nepal, NEPAL KUSHWA MAJHI UTTAN SANGHA was established under the chairmanship of Surya Bahadur Majhi in Sunsari district, KUSHWAR MAJHI BARGA SEWA SAMITI was formed under the chairmanship of Chandradhwaj Majhi in Jhapa district, and MAJHI SNGHA was established under the chairmanship of Sur Bahadur Majhi in Sindhupalchowk district; clearly the Majhi people are eager to be united.

In a 1995 national gathering of 15 districts NEPAL MAJHI UTTHAN SANGHA was established under the chairmanship of Surya Bahadur Majhi.

This great organisation is working for the preservation and promotion of Majhi culture, religion, customs, traditional practices, language, etc. Persons wishing to offer assistance in any way to the proud Majhi people of Nepal are asked to contact the NEPAL MAJHI UTTHAN SANGHA central office via e-mail at nepal_majhi@hotmail.com.

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Political Status

In the Panchayat Sytem of Governance in use in the Kingdom of Nepal - only 3 persons from the Majhi tribe were PRADHANPANCHA from the entire Kingdom. Since democracy has been restored to Nepal (it is a constitutional monarchy now) - there is still only one VDC chairman of Majhi ethnicity who won a local election in 1997, but no Majhi can be found in any highger position or policy making level.

Financial Status

This is perhaps the most pitiable situation of the proud Majhi people - and the one in most need or urgent attention, modernity, government obstructionism, water pollution and absolutely no financial aid from the government of the Kingdom of Nepal - are all causing the Majhi people to sink ever deeper into poverty and despair.


Copyright © 2003 Damon G. Corrie

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