The Tharu people are an indigenous group who have inhabited the southern foothills of the Himalayas for centuries. They have a unique way of life and culture that distinguishes them from other groups in Nepal. The Tharus are recognized as a nationality by the Nepalese government, and they consider themselves as people of the forest. Their way of living is closely intertwined with the forest and its resources. They have traditionally practiced shifting cultivation and rely on forest products for their livelihoods.
One of the unique aspects of Tharu culture is their cuisine. Dhikri and ghonghi are two of their most popular dishes. Dhikri is made from rice flour and shaped into various forms, including birds, fish, and animals. It is cooked over steam and served with chutney or curry. Ghonghi is an edible snail found in nearby water bodies. Tharu people collect them, boil them, and cook them with spices like coriander, chilies, garlic, and onion. These dishes are not commonly found in other parts of Nepal and are a testament to the unique culinary traditions of the Tharu people.
The Tharu people also have their own festivals and ceremonies, which are different from those celebrated by other groups in Nepal. For example, during the Teej festival, Tharu women spend the night without eating any food, and some don't even drink water. They also participate in large circular dances, occupying a larger area. These festivals are an important part of Tharu culture and showcase their unique traditions and beliefs.
Despite their rich cultural heritage, the Tharu people have faced several challenges over the years, including discrimination, marginalization, and poverty. Many Tharu people work as agricultural laborers, and their economic condition is often precarious. However, in recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the need to preserve and promote Tharu culture and traditions. Several NGOs and government organizations are working towards this goal, and there has been a significant increase in tourism in Tharu communities, which has provided an economic boost to the region.
In conclusion, the Tharu people are a unique and vibrant community with a rich cultural heritage. They have their own language, cuisine, festivals, and traditions that are distinct from those of other groups in Nepal. Despite the challenges they have faced, the Tharu people have managed to preserve their way of life and are slowly gaining recognition for their unique contributions to Nepali culture. If you are interested in learning more about the Tharu people and their culture, visiting their communities and participating in their festivals is a great way to immerse yourself in their way of life.