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Facts You Did Not Know About Caste System In Nepal

Many little-known facts you did not know about caste system in Nepal. These are considerable significance and impact subject, illuminating its complexity and historical growth.
There are interesting facts about Nepal’s caste system that may surprise you as we reveal its lesser-known layers. This powerful social system has a complicated history and hidden details. An understanding of the complex structure of the caste system and its significant influence on Nepalese society.

Discover fascinating facts you did not know about caste system in Nepal. Shed light on the less well-known facets of Nepal’s caste system as we go on shedding light on the journey.

1 Origin Of The Word

The Portuguese brought the word “caste,” which has Portuguese roots, to India in the middle of the 14th century. A caste is a cohesive, recognisable group of people identified by endogamy, inheritance of membership, and adherence to a certain way of life, which may occasionally include engaging in a particular occupation. It is frequently connected to a unique ceremonial standing within a hierarchical structure. According to Berreman, the caste system is a birth-based stratification that includes interactions between hierarchical groups and people from different sociocultural backgrounds. Sinha says caste is an endogamous group’s hierarchical structure, marked by a hereditary division of labour.

2 Origin In Nepal

In the beginning identifying of the Varna system in Nepal is difficult. Still, a more accurate analysis is made from the reign of King Jayasthiti Malla, particularly in the context of the Kathmandu Valley and the adoption of the Muluki Ain (Old Legal Code) in 1854, which includes the whole of Nepal.

King Jayasthiti Malla divided the people of the Kathmandu Valley into 64 different caste groupings during his rule. Each caste given a specific set of functional and professional tasks. Not many changes were made to the ancient caste system until 1854. The Muluki Ain is of great historical, legal, and cultural relevance for academics interested in Nepal. 

3 Ancient Division

Ancient Nepal differed from current Nepal in that numerous dynasties, including the Gopal, Mahispal, Ahir, and Kirat, ruled it. Aryans, Mongols, Astriks, and Dravidians were only a few groups living in Nepal (K.C. 2009). Regional kingdoms existed in ancient Nepal; the Mithila, Ramgram, and Kapilvastu areas had monarchs. 

Social problems also grew sharply at that time. People from castes like Chandal and Nishad branded untouchables and given the authority to practice the Hindu religion.

For thousands of years during the ancient period, Nepal was ruled by several kingdoms, including Ahir, Kirat, Gopal, and Mahispal. Within their regime, their system and bias were in place

4 Medieval Division

In 300 B.S., the Licchavis overthrew the Kirat Dynasty and governed Nepal for 630 years. Hinduism, which the Licchavi Kings brought to Nepal during that time from India, had a significant influence there. In Nepal, the caste system was established alongside religion, and the concept of four Varnas was followed. The system had four caste divisions: Brahmin, Chhetri, Vaishya, and Shudra.

The Hindu concept gave rise to castes like Nishad and Chandal, who were regarded as untouchables. However, the horrors continue because of the hierarchical distribution of authority. The caste system dominated by Brahmins, with Chettris coming in second. Based on their professions, Sudras were put at the bottom of the caste system, with Vaishyas in the third position. Before Nepal introduced democracy in 2007, the caste system was extremely strict.

5 Modern Division

The other facts you did not know about Nepal are while the basic framework of the caste system remains the same, there seems to be a shift in how priorities are applied in the society. The extent of the caste system has changed since Nepal underwent major shifts, such as the establishment of democracy in 2007 and its restoration in 2047 B.S.

Despite Nepal’s traditional caste system, there has been work to make society more inclusive by elevating all the disadvantaged and low-caste groups to important positions.

The contemporary caste system is unrestricted, free, and democratic. Every caste system has an equal right to pursue chances and freedom.

6 Inter caste Marriage

In Nepal, inter-caste weddings have grown in popularity despite earlier taboos. Certain caste groups were prohibited from marrying people from other castes due to traditional constraints. These customs are, however, increasingly changing in current times, particularly in isolated places. Elements including increasing levels of education, exposure to many cultures, and economic conditions are driving this movement.

People who travel and study overseas encounter novel concepts that subvert caste norms. Rising living expenditures also make it challenging for young people to marry within their caste because of high dowry expectations. Inter-caste unions provide a solution by removing financial obstacles and opening doors to social mobility. This pattern represents a shift toward inclusion in Nepal’s society.

7 According To Prithivi Narayan Shah

The founder of the Shah dynasty, Prithvi Narayan, said there are 36 castes and four major Varnas in Nepal. These divisions have their roots in the Indo-Aryans and are inspired by Hindu caste systems. Nepal comprises 103 diverse tribes that speak 92 languages, which adds to its complexity. Unfortunately, this complex social structure has made it possible for a few powerful people to hold most of the power in modern-day Nepal.

The four Varnas in Nepal:

  1. Brahmin – traditionally priests, scholars and educators
  2. Kshatriya – soldiers, governors and kings
  3. Vaishya – merchants, farmers, cattle herders and artisans
  4. Sudra – labourers, artisans and service providers.

8 According To Jayasthiti Malla

During the medieval era in Nepal, the caste system changed. Kathmandu’s King Jayasthiti Malla put reforms into place by reclassifying all castes by Hindu ideals. As a result, individuals were divided into 64 castes and four Varnas.

However, these adjustments unknowingly encouraged the development of Nepal’s caste system, leading to alarmingly high levels of prejudice and untouchability. Social norms based on caste identification and caste-based caste were prevalent during this time. King Jayasthiti prescribed particular clothing, decorations, and homes for each caste. Yagyavalkya and Manu’s texts influenced these customs.

Despite the caste reclassification’s early appearance of order and discipline, it had negative long-term impacts. The strict divisions contributed to enduring social injustice and discrimination in Nepalese society.

Appsha Digital

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