•      Thu Sep 28 2023

Chepang community observing Chhonam on Friday

Chepang community (file photo)

Bharatpur, Sept 7: The Chhepang community will be observing the Chhonam (Nwagi) festival of this year on Friday. Nepal Chepang Association, Bagmati province secretary Laxman Chepang confirmed that they would be celebrating the festival tomorrow.

He said the Chepang people from Chitwan, Dhading, Gorkha and Makwanpur would be gathering in Chyangli of Dhadhing to celebrate the festival en-masse.

The Association is facilitating the celebrations. Those who have not favourable time to join the mass celebration will observe the festival within the family and the community.

The Nepal Chepang Association province secretary who also serves as the ward char of Ichchhakamana rural municipality-6 in Chitwan said it is a religious belief among the Chepang people that the first harvest of the season be first offered to their ancestors before being consumed by themselves

Ghaiya (upland rice), taro root, pomelo, sponge guard, grains and other fruits are offered to the Earth and ancestors. The day is taken as an occasion to east first harvest of the season among the Chepang community.

Pancha Bahadur Chepang, the chairman of Ward No. 2 of the rural municipality, Chepang community, who primarily survive on wild root fruits and sinso (common nettle) for at least nine months in the year will take the festival as the day for eating something new and delicious.

As he said, the Chepang people celebrate the Chhonam festival during this time of the year as the maize and other fruits they have cultivated on hill slopes ripen at this time. The Chepangs mainly are found inhabiting on hill slopes.

The Chepang shaman called Pande in Chepang dialect sacrifices a cockerel beating on the dhyangro drum as a Chhonam ritual. On the day of the festival, the Chepangs do not go out to work, but stay home and revel in the festivities. They invite their kith and kin and organise collective feast. They dance and sing as well as share their happiness and sorrows.

The Chhonam festival is linked to the lifestyle and culture of the Chepang people. This festival is called Chhonam in Chepang language while it is called ‘Nwagi’ in the Khas Nepali vernacular.

Province government gives public holiday in three districts

The Bagmati provincial government has given a public holiday on Friday for three districts of the province on the occasion of the Nwagi festival celebrated by the Chepang community as Chhonam festival on the 22nd of the Nepali month Bhadau each year.

The provincial government has given public holiday in Makawanpur, Chitwan and Dhading districts with significant Chepang population.

The population of the Chepangs is 84,364 throughout the country. The highest Chepang population is in Chitwan. The district has 35,000 Chepang population. Chepangs are the indigenous communities living in areas surrounding the Mahabharat mountain range north of the Rapti river and east of the Trishuli river. There is dense population of the Chepangs in the western belt of Makawanpur, the northern areas of Chitwan and southern belt of Dhading district. RSS