Tharu Indigenous people in Nepal

Tharu people are ethnic indigenous people in Nepal. According to the population censuses 2011, the Tharu population totals to 1,737,470. The Tharu population is spread out through Kailali, kanchanpur, Surkhet, Dang, Deukhuri, Banke, Bardiya, Rupendehi, Nawalparasi, Kapilvastu, Sindhuli, Chitwan, Saptari, Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Udaypur, Saptari and Morang districts of Nepal. These Tharu communities are economically extremely underdeveloped but are very rich in culture and follow their vibrant traditions.

One aspect that separates them from other indigenous communities is that they follow a Matriarchy system, where females hold primary power; predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property. Female members of a family have big roles in decision making. The mothers of the communities are highly respected.

The Tharu in Chitwan have lived there for hundreds of years and call themselves "The People of the Forest". They farm rice, corn, mustard lentil and hunt wild boar, deer, and rabbit along with river fish. They also collect forest products such as wild fruits, vegetables, medicinal plants and materials to build their houses.

They have developed a unique style of decorating the walls of their houses with rice containers, clay, grass and other objects which are locally available to them. The Tharu women transform outer walls and balconies of their homes into colorful paintings. They dedicate this to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of prosperity and fertility. They enjoy their own ritual dancing. They love to cook a variety of traditional foods. Tharu Communities also have their own unique traditional costumes and jewels. Their craft traditional baskets, furniture, flower pot, fan, hats etc. Their culture and traditions in general are very unique and interesting. They are one of the communities that make Nepal an extremely diverse place.

Malaria was prevalent until the late 1950s in Terai region of Nepal. But since its eradication, the area became a feasible destination for large-scale migration of people from the hilly regions. The migration of these people brought in new traditions and most importantly new economic changes. Tharu people who follow traditional ways of living are increasingly facing difficulties with adjusting to these changes. The communities are getting poorer and many youngsters are leaving their place of unique culture and traditions to pursue economic activities in other parts of the country or even abroad.

Furthermore, with recent political changes and extreme polarization between different communities, it is even harder for the Tharu communities to focus on economic activities. This is hurting their economic development.