Sociology BA LLB for Sociology Notes

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‘Nepalization refers to the process by which members of other ethnic communities in Nepal adopt the language , religion and other cultural practices of the country’s dominant Brahman-Chetri ethnic groups. These practices are the cultural template for a Nepali national identity.’- Arjun Guneratne – 2002 wrote in her book Many Tongues, One People: The Making of Tharu Identity in Nepal:

Features of Nepaization

Change in mother tongue:
People leaving abandoning their mother tongue and accepting Nepali language.Change in religion
People who are not Hindus declaring themselves as Hindus.

Change within Hinduism
Hindu Madheshi and Hindu Newars following Hinduism that are practiced by Parbatiya Brahmins and Chettris.

Use of language in government offices.

Only Nepali mother used in government offices (pre 2006 People’s Movement)

Rest is similar to Sanskritization

History of Nepalization 1774 Nepali state had granted autonomy to Limbu elites in a 1774. Kipat system so that they would join the Nepali or erstwhile Gorkha state.

Nepalization during the into Gorkha was done in the four following manners during the pre Rana period:

Cultural assimilation and reward as in case of Gurung and Magars who were told they were Hindus and Gorkhas.

They received large share of land ownership.

Gurungs were given lordship over large areas of Rai and Limbu land for their help to Prithivi Narayan Shah.

Their caste system increased along with other Khas groups.
Accommodation through Concession : Kirat area came under Gorkhas when the Gorkhas promished the Kirats that Kirats will be allowed to hold land according to Kipat sustem.

Kirats (Rai and Limbus) who had Kipat land were not required to pay land tax to Gorkha empire.

Raikar land in rest of Nepal except in Kirat area had to pay tax to Gorkhas.

Labour exploitation: Tamang community were exploited as labourers for military and mercantile purposes. This also took place in Kumaon and Garhwal.

Vengeance and fear: Newars (mass mutilation in Kirtipur) and other Khas kingdoms and feudal warlords especially in Karnali basin had to face ruthless vengeance of Gorkhali. Torture in Karnali is still called Gorkhali Lathi.

Another historical process of Hinduization and Nepalization began with the recruitment of non Hindu Janajatis into Gorkha army:


Khas-Bahun commander and powerful Janajati sub commanders composed of Gorkha army.
In many cases Magars and Gurungs were powerful commanders of Gorkha army

Gorkha army did not have a one culture group character as if it was the only Khas army.It had multi ethnic military character
To make sure that Magars were part of Gorkha empire’s campaign to unify Nepal the Gorkha king Prithivi Narayan Shah had claimed ‘I am king of Magars’

Harka Gurung claimed that Gorkha army and British Gorkha army Hinduized and Parbatiyaized the Janajati soldiers.

According to Harka Gurung out of 10 Gorkha regiment in British army in India only 1 was reserved for Thakuri and Chetri combined.

These majority Janajati armies were Hinduized

They were Instructed in Nepali language

They were taught Nepali script

Since they earned more and had more respect in their village than than non army Janajatis hence when they returned to their village they were able to further Hinduize and Nepalize other Janajatis
Between 1914-18 some 100,000 Gorkhas support British in World War I. Most of these were from Janajati community who were Nepalized, Sanskritized and Hinduized by the British.

Panchayat period and Nepalization

The Panchayt system failed to unite the Parbatiya and non-Parbatiya, Hindus and non-Hindus, so-called-high-caste and Dalits. Panchayat ideologues were working towards the fusion of modernism and Hinduism for an alternative non-Indian Hinduisms and non-western modernism. The arrival of Panchayat as the dictatorial system in 1960 was a desperate attempt to forcefully impose a new version of the Nepali Nationalist Ideology based on Hinduism, Nepali language and Parbatiya culture. This has been called as Nepalization in sociology and anthropology in Nepal although many scholars have challenged this term.

Nepali nationalism during the Panchayat era was based on the following 4 core issues:

  • Extreme loyalty to the king.
  • Fluent Nepali language
  • Hill Hindu religion
  • Parbatiya culture (dress and arts)
  • Education materials to support the above four pillars

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