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Chepang is the commonly used name given to an indigenous ethnic group living in central and southern Nepal.

The language is also known as Chepang but is called Chyo-bang by the people themselves.Some Bahun Chettri castes call these people the "Praja" meaning "political subjects". The people speak 3 different dialects of this Tibeto-Burman language that is closely related to Raute and Raji, two undocumented languages spoken in western Nepal.

Chepang is one of the few languages which uses a duodecimal (base 12) counting system rather than the decimal (base 10).

Chepang traditionally practised some slash-and-burn agriculture, or simple hoe-based horticulture along with mostly hunting and gathering from the forests. Since being resettled in southern Nepal and impinged upon by Nepali speaking groups, Chepang have begun plow-based agriculture.

Chepang men and women are basically egalitarian and no social ranking exists as it does in caste Nepalese society. There are no chiefs.

The Chepangs themselves follow Animism, although they are strongly influenced by both Hinduism and Buddhism, which came from the Tamangs just north of them. They observe all the Hindu festivals of Dashain, Tihar and Sakrantis besides their own tribal festival Nwagi, which is performed on a Tuesday during third week of Bhadra (some day in August and September). According to the 2001 Nepal Census, there are 52,237 Chepang in the country, of which 70.23% were Hindu, 18.75% were Buddhists and 8.78% were Christians.

The best information on them can be found in works by Ross Caughley, Navin Rai and Ganesh Gurung.


See also

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