The Rautes ( Nomads of Nepal )

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The Rautes ( Nomads of Nepal )
The Rautes ( Nomads of Nepal ) Photo: RSS

The Rautes are one of the most typical indigenous groups of Nepal sustaining their unique cultural identities for generations. They are the only nomadic people in the country who never settle permanently in any particular place. The Rautes deny any idea on permanent settlement, education or agriculture. The fact that the Rautes, the last fulltime nomads of Nepal, have survived into this century is truly remarkable in our current period of diminishing cultural diversity.

It is estimated that the total population of Rautes in Nepal is about 180, or roughly 52 families. The Karnali Province of Nepal remains their only sanctuary. There is no documented history of the Rautes. But one common ground is that once they fled from the state, they never returned and established a different pattern of life in the jungle. To eke out their living, they mastered crafting of wooden products, learned to hunt monkeys, and adapted to forest life.

The Rautes ( Nomads of Nepal )Only the Mukhiya of the Rautes, on behalf of their tribe, talks to outsiders regarding their lifestyle and tradition. The Rautes bear traditional knowledge of living in a community. The heredity of the Raute is categorised into three types as Kalyaal, Raskoti and Samaal. It is therefore very important to note the various aspects of these people, such as their ethical norms and values, rituals and livelihood patterns.

At the time when acculturation has been widespread in the world with diminishing diversity, the Rautes have been quite successful in sustaining their tradition. Humanity has to learn a lot from the Rautes, since they have been very successful in preserving their tradition in today’s world. Their maintenance of the nomadic culture in a rapidly globalising world is commendable. This global uniqueness makes them a precious part of the diverse people of Nepal.

At the time when acculturation has been widespread in the world with diminishing diversity, the Rautes have been quite successful in sustaining their tradition. Humanity has to learn a lot from the Rautes, since they have been very successful in preserving their tradition in today’s world. Their maintenance of the nomadic culture in a rapidly globalising world is commendable. This global uniqueness makes them a precious part of the diverse people of Nepal.Raute children

Like any other ethnic group following the Hindu society, the Raute community also maintains a patriarchal social hierarchy. However, in matters of internal management, women have a more prominent role than that of their male counterparts. The Rautes maintain a clear division of labour between men and women. Most often the male members get involved in making wooden utensils, hunting monkeys, trading their products in the market, and collecting food grains. It is also common for unmarried girls and widows to go to the countryside and collect food grains and deliver the order for the craft items. Women in the Raute community bear the major responsibility in the household chores and dominate in almost every facet of the livelihood except in the areas of socialising, hunting, carpentry, and dancing. They have the indigenous know-how on spring water sources. Since it is a part of their job to search for medicinal herbs, firewood and vegetables in the jungle, they also have extensive knowledge of the forest and its ecosystem.

The husband and wife have great respect and love for each other. Married women never travel outside of their settlement area with anyone else other than their husbands. The women are mainly responsible for collecting firewood, cooking meals and rearing their children. They also may assist the males while shifting homes to new locations and building new homes there. The women do not participate in making wooden utensils and hunting as they are considered to be the male tasks. Children until the age of 10- 14 are not assigned any major household responsibilities, they only spend their days playing with natural objects and roaming around the settlement. On special occasions, they may help their parents in fetching water from the spring and carrying small items while shifting to new locations.

Early Married Raute Girl
Early Married Raute Girl

Monkey hunting is considered fundamental to maintain the cultural permanence of the hunting life of the Rautes. Their hunting technique is also very rare in the sense that around 8-30 young and middle aged Raute members go hunting in a group with their nets. They do not use guns or bows and arrows for hunting. The Rautes observe the festivals like Saune Sankranti, Dashain, Tihar, Chaite Dashain and Maghe Sankranti. For the celebrations, the Rautes manage food, homemade ale and meat in advance. As they enjoy complete participation in the community events, they do not like to meet strangers or travel beyond their settlement area during their celebration period. They take complete leave from carpentry and hunting during the festivals. These festivals are observed with much joy and fervour amidst singing, dancing, feasting and their own ritual performances. Rice, meat and drinks play an important role in their feast.

Honey hunting in Nepal

 

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