Tribes in News

Who are the Tharu Tribals?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tharu tribals

Mains level : Tourism development in tribal circuits

The Uttar Pradesh government has recently embarked upon a scheme to take the unique culture of its ethnic Tharu tribe across the world.

The Terai or Tarai is a lowland region in northern India and southern Nepal that lies south of the outer foothills of the Himalayas, the Sivalik Hills, and north of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. This lowland belt is characterized by tall grasslands, scrub savannah, sal forests and clay rich swamps.

Tharu Tribals

  • The community belongs to the Terai lowlands, amid the Shivaliks of lower Himalayas. Most of them are forest dwellers and some practised agriculture.
  • The word Tharu is believed to be derived from their, meaning followers of Theravada Buddhism.
  • The Tharus live in both India and Nepal. In the Indian Terai, they live mostly in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.
  • According to the 2011 census, the Scheduled Tribe population in Uttar Pradesh was more than 11 lakh; this number is estimated to have crossed 20 lakh now.
  • The biggest chunk of this tribal population is made up of Tharus.
  • Members of the tribe survive on wheat, corn and vegetables are grown close to their homes. A majority still lives off the forest.

Tharu language, food, and culture

  • They speak various dialects of Tharu, a language of the Indo-Aryan subgroup, and variants of Hindi, Urdu, and Awadhi.
  • In central Nepal, they speak a variant of Bhojpuri, while in eastern Nepal, they speak a variant of Maithili.
  • Tharus worship Lord Shiva as Mahadev and call their supreme being “Narayan”, who they believe is the provider of sunshine, rain, and harvests.
  • Tharu women have stronger property rights than is allowed to women in mainstream North Indian Hindu custom.
  • Standard items on the Tharu plate are bagiya or dhikri – which is a steamed dish of rice flour that is eaten with chutney or curry – and ghonghi, an edible snail that is cooked in a curry made of coriander, chili, garlic, and onion.

What is this scheme about?

  • The UP government is working to connect Tharu villages in the districts of Balrampur, Bahraich, Lakhimpur and Pilibhit bordering Nepal, with the homestay scheme of the UP Forest Department.
  • The idea is to offer tourists an experience of living in the natural Tharu habitat, in traditional huts made of grass collected mainly from the forests.
  • Tharu homeowners will be able to charge tourists directly for the accommodation and home-cooked meals.
  • The government expects both domestic and international tourists to avail of the opportunity to obtain a taste of the special Tharu culture by staying with them, observing their lifestyle, food habits, and attire.

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