Ethnicity in Nepal: A Complex Diversity in Making

Ethnicity in Nepal: A Complex Diversity in Making
Ethnicity is the fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.

Ethnicity in Nepal is a product of both the colonial and state-building eras of Nepal. The ethnic groups are separated by language, ethnic identity, or the caste system in Nepal. They are categorized by common culture and endogamy. Endogamy carves out ethnic groups in Nepal. With above 100 ethnic groups in Nepal and the recent federalized structure where ethnicity was considered as one of the bases for it, it is a topic to be discussed so let us know more about it:

What is Ethnicity?

Ethnicity as a term is more broadly defined as “large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background.” It is linked with cultural expression and identification however it is related to social constructs used to categorize and characterize seemingly distinct populations.

Ethnicity in Nepal: A Complex Diversity in Making
Diverese Population (Image Source: Stanford University)

How are ethnic groups classified?

Ethnic membership is usually defined by a shared cultural heritage, ancestry, origin myth, history, homeland, language, or dialect, symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, art, or physical appearance.

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Ethnicity in Nepal: A Complex Diversity in Making
Ethno-linguistic Divison of Nepal (Image Source: Wikipedia)

How many ethnicities are there in Nepal?

The answer to this question may be quite shocking to some people so brace yourself!! There are 126 ethnicities in Nepal according to current census. For details

Ethnicity in Nepal: A Complex Diversity in Making
An Example of Ethnicity in Nepal (Image Source: Wikipedia)

Which is the largest ethnic group in Nepal?

Khas Chettri are considered as the largest ethnic group in Nepal with the population of 4,398,053 which is almost 18% of total population of Nepal. For details

Ethnicity in Nepal: A Complex Diversity in Making
Nepali woman/girl circa 1900 (Image Source: Wikipedia)

Are there chances of Ethnic violence in Nepal?

Ethnic violence is a form of political violence expressly motivated by ethnic hatred and ethnic conflict. Forms of ethnic violence which can be argued to have the character of terrorism may be known as ethnic terrorism or ethnically-motivated terrorism likes in the country of Serbia, Bosnia, Sudan, Ethiopia and so on.

Ethnicity in Nepal: A Complex Diversity in Making
Ethnic violence in Africa

While the the chances of such violence are very low in contemporary Nepal but the risks should never should be discounted completely and we should be aware of such people and agents who are in waiting to stoke in the ethnic hatred and spread the hate in order to incite violence in very subtle way which could be very disastrous for our country and its unity.

Ethnicity in Nepal: A Complex Diversity in Making
A Beautiful Image of Unity

What is the difference between race and ethnicity?

Race refers to the concept of dividing people into groups on the basis of various sets of physical characteristics and the process of ascribing social meaning to those groups. Ethnicity describes the culture of people in a given geographic region, including their language, heritage, religion and customs.

Ethnicity in Nepal: A Complex Diversity in Making

Ethnic Classification in Nepal:

Despite having 126 different ethnicities in its geography, Nepalese population is primarily classified into three major ethnic groups in terms of their origin: Indo-Nepalese, Tibeto-Nepalese, and indigenous Nepalese. In the case of the first two groups, the direction if their migration and Nepal’s landscapes appeared to have led to their vertical distribution; most ethnic groups were found at particular altitudes. The first group, comprising those of Indo- Nepalese origin, inhabited the more fertile lower hills, river valleys, and Terai plains.

Ethnicity in Nepal: A Complex Diversity in Making
Ethnic Composition of Nepal (Image Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)

The second major group consisted of communities of Tibeto-Mongol origin occupying the higher hills from the west to the east. The third and much smaller group comprised a number of tribal communities, such as the Tharus and the Dhimals of the Terai; they may be remnants of indigenous communities whose habitation predates the advent of Indo-Nepalese and Tibeto-Mongol elements.

Conclusion: Unity in Diversity

Since Nepal’s unification, various Nepalese ethnic group became united despite western attempt at instigating chaos which has led us to the modern day era allowing us to survive even the onslaught of British Empire and prosper without any ethnic violence in particular.

Ethnicity in Nepal: A Complex Diversity in Making
Unity in Diversity

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