Nepal: Limbu caste

Nepal: Limbu caste

Limbu, are the second most numerous tribe of the people called Kiranti. Their caste makes 1.6% of population in Nepal. The Limbu tribe was about 380,000 big in the early 21st century.

The Limbu are of Mongolian roots and speak a language belonging to the Himalayan group of Tibeto-Burman languages. It has its own alphabet (the Kirat-Sirijonga script), believed to have been invented in the 9th century.


They live in the eastern region of Nepal, known as Limbuwan – meaning ‘land of the Limbu’. The region borders with Sikkim and West Bengal in India and Tibet in the north.

Limbu villages are found 800 to 1,200 metres above sea level and consist of 30–100 stone houses surrounded by dry-cultivated fields. Divided into patrilineal clans, the families are led by a headman, or subba, who is often a returned Gurkha soldier.


Limbu grow rice, wheat, corn and also fruits and crops like beans, oranges, bananas, guava and more. The raise they gain is for their own consumption. The surplus they sell. They keep water buffalo and cows for milk but goats, chickens, and sheep are raised for wool and meat.


Although influenced by Tibetan Buddhism the Limbu kept a traditional religion, worshipping a chief god, ‘Tagaera Ningba Fuma’. Tagaera is not worshiped directly but as an earth goddes in the Yuba Samang Puja. They have their own tribal priests. Each Limbu household additionally honours an ancestor god and has a religious leader (a shamba, or a fedangba) to conduct family rituals.

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