About Rajbanshi people And Culture
Rajbanshis live in the Nepal –India borderlands of the districts of Jhapa , morang and sunsari as well of east Nepal. Anthropologists opine that we are the kiths and kin of the peripheral Koch people of the adjacent states of West Bengal and Assam in India. Though having Mongoloid feature, their languages akin to Bengali and Assamese.We wear clothes conforming to our climate and weather .We worship Thakur Brahamani and also practice shamanism.We play with mud and water during our major festivals like siruwa and faguwa.The groom’s side makes monetary payment to the bride’s family during our marriage. This custom also prevails among some other ethnic groups of Nepal. Our principal occupation is agriculture. Rajbanshis, we were the indigenous people of Jhapa & Morang before the hill migrants of Nepal overwhelmed us. Most of the Rajbanshis, we bury our dead but now a days some of us have adopted cremation formalities. According to Census 2010, our population is more than 2,00,000.
Rajbanshi is the name of an indigenous people settled in Jhapa , Morang and in some number in sunsari district. It is conjectured that we belong to a mixed race of Austroasian or Dravidian and Mongolian. Rajbanshis and Satars have settled in the eastern Terai in the same process as Tharus and Danuwars were settled in western Terai of Nepal. When these people entered Morang we entered as Rajbanshis. The name Rajbanshi was given after A.D. 1515. The original tribal name of Rajbanshis is Koch or Koche. Worshippers of nature and followers of shamanistic religion our indigenous Koch people have changed our names to Rajbanshi after coming into contact with Hindus. We have a lifted bone over our throat a little higher than the average height. The structure of eyes and forehead ,etc is like those of a mixed of Aryan-Mongloid ,Austric,Negrito, Dravidian. A mixed of the culture of worshipping nature and Hindu culture however seems to developed among the Rajbanshis of Nepal.
Rajbanshis ,we are found mainly Jhapa ,Morang and Sunsari. Our place of origin is the settlement area of Koch in Bihar , Bengal and Assam of India and also Bangladesh. But the largest settlement of Koches with our name Rajbanshi is in Nepal only .according to the census of 2001, our population is 95,812. The language of Rajbanshis is called Rajbanshi Bhasha .It is a mix of Bangali and Maithili.The language of Koches , who are considered the original ethnonym of Rajbanshis, has commonalities with the language of Garo.
From helping during the labour pains to the time of getting cleaned of birth pollution, the Rajbanshi women of Daiyani or Hadi group should play a special role. Likewise , the barber also has a role there. If the child is born on Sunday the birth of pollution is cleaned on the same day; otherwise it is cleaned after 5 0r 7 days. In order to purify the women in the childbirth from birth pollution the barber must cut her nails and give the child a haircut. The christening is done by parents or Brahamin within 15days. Popular names are given by neighbours.
In marriage , girls are searched by middlemen. The boy’s side gives an amount of money named ‘chumana’ to the girl’s side to us for the girls. The amount of this gift money is determined on the basis of the demand of the girl’s mother. It is given as much as the girl’s mother asks for. We or become Daguwa(domestic helper as well as husband) of a widow. Such the Daguwas don’t have any rights. Some Rajbanshis bury our dead and the barber has a role in the death rites also. The death pollution or mourning period is complete in 12 days. On the last day of mourning we eat meat and rice.
In every sacred function ,Rajbanshis, we use banana trunk. Nuts are also required . we make Hirawal Jhalla(Dhakara, a kind of thin carpet) etc from jute. We make homes of single storey buildings by raising walls of mud up to two feet and thereafter cover them with wooden bars on all four sides. Males wear langauti and females wear petani. We do not observe of menstruation. We eat plenty of fish in our food. Unlike koches Rajbanshis have spirits and chiken.
Koches are a tribe of matriarchal system but rituals and traditions of it are found remaining amoung the Rajbanshis. Neveetheless , women are relatively free and full of self –respect .locally prestigious people gather and decide almost every social function .Rajbanshis ,basically follow shamanistic religion .We respect Kali ,Thakur Brahmani very much.We build a hut for Kali bin the bvillage to worshipb Khappar (the ‘skull’) .Various forces of nature are worshipped in the name of Thakurs . Thunthuniya,Adit,Lakhigajadhar ,chanatkhela, chatumariya are some of them .Thakur is the family teacher of Rajbanshis.We celebrate new year and puja of Ashad,ect .
Rajbanshis’ main occupation is agriculture .Until the people from mountain areas moved down to Jhapa and Morang ,Rajbanshi were both landowners and farmers . But the simple- natured Rajbanshis were entrapped into indebtedness by these settlers from outside and who ntook away our land.There are ,however ,some well-to-do Rajbanshis who are called deuniya .Rest of the Rajbanshis have reached a state where we have to sell our property for buying subsistence level food.