Gurungs

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Gurungs

PRONUNCIATION: gur-OONGS
ALTERNATE NAMES: Tamu
LOCATION: Nepal (central Himalayan Mountain region)
POPULATION: 543,571 (2001 Census of Nepal)
LANGUAGE: Gurung; Nepali
RELIGION: Mix of Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, and local animistic practices

INTRODUCTION

The Gurungs are a hill people living on the southern slopes of the Himalayan Mountains in central Nepal. In their own language, they call themselves "Tamu" (Ta means thunder, mu symbolizes sky). Their origins are uncertain, although they are of Mongoloid stock and their ancestors may have migrated to their current location from Tibet around 2,000 years ago.

Gurung tradition maintains that in ancient times a Gurung kingdom, ruled by a "Ghale Rājā," emerged among the numerous small kingdoms and states that existed in the Himalayan foothills. This kingdom was conquered by a neighboring Rājā in the 15th century AD. During the 16th century, it was incorporated into the expanding Gurkha empire of the Shah dynasty. Gurungs served as soldiers in the armies of the Shah kings, including Prithvi Narayan Shah who conquered the Kathmandu Valley in 1768 and completed the unification of Nepal.

The tradition of Gurung service in the army of the Gurkha Kingdom continued into the 19th century, and Gurungs were involved in military campaigns against both the Chinese and British. The British were so impressed with the fighting qualities of the Gurkhas following the 1814–1816 Anglo-Gurkha war that they began recruiting Gurkha soldiers into the service of the East India Company. Gurungs (along with the Magars) make up the bulk of the soldiers serving today in the Gurkha regiments of the British and Indian armies.

The Gurung, like all peoples in Nepal, have been influenced by political events in the region. Nepal was an absolute monarchy until 1990, when, faced with a people's movement against the absolute monarchy, King Birendra, agreed to large-scale political reforms by creating a parliamentary democracy with the king as the head of state and a prime minister as the head of the government. All Nepalese citizens 18 years and older became eligible to vote and in the first free and fair elections in Nepal in 1991, the Nepali Congress was victorious. However, governments in Nepal have tended to be highly unstable, no government having survived for more than two years since 1991, either through internal collapse or parliamentary dissolution by the monarch.

In February 1996 the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) began a violent insurgency in more than 50 of the country's 75 districts. Nearly 13,000 police, civilians, and insurgents are estimated to have been killed in the conflict since 1996. In July 2001 Prime Minister Deuba announced a cease-fire, which the Maoists pledged to observe, as part of a government effort to seek a negotiated solution to the conflict. Although Maoist-instigated intimidation and extortion continued, the killings largely subsided after the cease-fire was announced. The government and Maoists held talks in late 2001.

It is claimed that, hoping to free themselves from dominance by the Brahman-Chhetri-Newar (BCN) elite, Gurungs supported the Maoist insurgency. But Gurungs were also represented in the armed forces and police so they took casualties on both sides of the conflict. An estimated 12,800 deaths are reported during the insurgency, with a further 100,000 to 150,00 people being displaced. The government feared that Gurungs, with their military background, were providing training to insurgents in remote areas of Nepal.

On 1 June 2001, however, Crown Prince Dipendra was officially reported to have shot and killed his father, King Birendra; his mother, Queen Aishwarya; his brother; his sister, his father's younger brother, Prince Dhirendra; and several aunts, before turning the gun on himself. Gyanendra, Birendra's brother, succeeded as King, but on 1 February 2005, suspended the parliament, appointed a government led by himself, and enforced martial law. The King argued that civilian politicians were unfit to handle the Maoist insurgency. A broad coalition called the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) was formed in opposition to the royal takeover, encompassing the seven parliamentary parties who held about 90% of the seats in the old, dissolved parliament. A countrywide uprising began in April 2006, resulting in massive and spontaneous demonstrations and rallies held across Nepal against King Gyanendra's autocratic rule. Eventually, an agreement was reached by which the monarchy was to be abolished. Nepal's monarchy was abolished at the end of May 2008, thus ending 240 years of royal rule, and Nepal became the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal with the prime minister becoming head of state.

LOCATION AND HOMELAND

Assuming the population has increased at the national rate for Nepal since 2001, the current Gurung population is estimated at around 620,000 people. This does not include the small number of Gurungs who live in Sikkim, Bhutan and the Indian state of West Bengal. Traditional Gurung territory extends along the mountain slopes north of the Kali Gandaki River between the towns of Gorkha and Baglund. Some Gurungs are found in the upper Kali Gandaki valley itself and along the Marsyandi and Buri Gandaki rivers. Recent migrations towards the south have seen Gurungs settle in the hills of the Inner Terai zone.

The highland, or lekhāli, Gurungs retain a lifestyle closely tied to older traditions. They are dependent on high-altitude pastoralism and are strongly Buddhist in culture. The southern Gurungs, however, have a cereal-based economy and show a significant accommodation to Hindu cultural systems. In addition to this highland-lowland division, it is possible to distinguish between western, central, and eastern Gurungs, largely on the basis of linguistic differences.

Gurung villages are located at elevations between 1,050 and 2,150 m (approximately 3,500–7,000 ft). They often lie at the top of a hill or cling to the slopes of the steep gorges that rivers in the region have cut into the mountains. Above these, the terrain rises to the ridges and sheer cliffs that mark the southern slopes of the Annapurna, Lamjung, and Himalchuli ranges. Winters are cold and dry, although the temperature rarely drops below freezing. Differences in altitude and aspect, however, create considerable local variations in temperatures and precipitation. Mean monthly temperatures at Gorkha (elevation 1,667 m or 5,469 ft) range from about 8° to 30°c (approximately 46°–86°f). Rainfall at Gorkha averages 193.5 cm (76 in) and is received mostly in the summer months. Vegetation is mostly temperate mixed forest, with oak, elm, and conifers. Bamboo and numerous rhododendron species are common at lower elevations.

LANGUAGE

Gurung, also known as Tamu or Temu, is a Tibeto-Burman language of the Sino-Tibetan linguistic family. It is similar to other languages, such as Newari and Tamang, spoken in the hills of Nepal. The Gurungs have a tradition of oral literature, but there is no written form of the language. Most Gurungs are bilingual, speaking Nepali as well as Gurung.

FOLKLORE

The Gurung myth of origin tells of a king of the Surya (solar) dynasty who broke with tradition by crowning his favorite younger son as his successor. As a result, the elder son, Lochan, left the kingdom to seek the life of an ascetic in the Himalayas. He took with him his wife Kali, his priest, a slave, and their wives. On their journey to the mountains, so the legend goes, the group was forced to seek shelter for a night in the company of two prostitutes. During the night, the prostitutes broke Lochan's and the priest's sacred threads, poured wine on the sleeping men's lips, and then fled. On waking, Lochan and the priest thought they had become drunk and had sexual relations with the prostitutes. Ashamed at their behavior, they continued on to the mountains where they abandoned the usual customs of their upper-caste status.

Over time, Lochan's wife gave birth to 3 sons named Ghale Mahan Gurung, Ghodane Mahan Gurung, and Lama Mahan Gurung, and a daughter. The priest fathered 2 sons—Lamechane Mahan Gurung and Plone Lamechane Gurung—and 3 daughters. The children of Lochan and the priest intermarried, and their descendants form one of the two subtribes of the Gurung, the Chār Jāt or "Four Clans" group. These clans are the Ghale, Ghodane, Lama, and Lamechane, in order of rank. The slave and his wife had 16 sons and 10 daughters. These married among themselves and were the forerunners of the Solah Jāt or "Sixteen Clans" subtribe. The Chār Jāt consider themselves superior to the Solah Jāt.

This legend serves to explain why the Gurungs, who have been strongly influenced by Hinduism, do not show the classic features of Hindu society such as a rigid caste structure and commensal (dining) restrictions. The mythical genealogy traced to a ksatriya ruler and the loss of former high-caste status is common among tribes who have their origins outside Hindu society. It places a tribal people firmly in a Hindu mold and provides them with a legitimizing Hindu pedigree.

RELIGION

The Gurungs follow Tibetan Buddhism, a form of Mahāyāna Buddhism that has been strongly influenced by the ancient pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet. They have also come into close contact with Hindu peoples and have adopted many Hindu religious traits. Gurung religion is thus a mix of Buddhism, Hinduism, and local animistic practices. It clearly reflects the group's tribal origins, as well as its transitional location between the Hindu and Buddhist cultural worlds.

Gurungs believe in concepts such as karma (the belief that actions in this life determine the nature of one's next incarnation), and worship Buddha and the bodhisattvas (the Savior Buddhas). Buddhist lāmās (priests) preside at life-cycle ceremonies such as purification rites for newborn babies, and funerals. The Gurungs also revere the major gods of Hinduism, celebrate Hindu festivals, and sometimes use Brahman priests to cast horoscopes and perform certain rituals. In addition, their world is inhabited by numerous local godlings, village deities, supernatural creatures of the forest, and spirits who have to be worshiped and appeased. Local animist shamans (priests) called panju and klihbri have the responsibility of dealing with this aspect of Gurung religion. They perform exorcisms, animal sacrifice, and other animistic rites. They help trap and expel witches. They also participate with lāmās in many Gurung life-cycle rituals.

MAJOR HOLIDAYS

Among the Hindu festivals celebrated by the Gurungs are Tihar, Dasain (the Nepali form of Dasahara), and Baisakh (Vaisakh) Purnima. In many instances, however, the Hindu festivals coincide with local Gurung festivals in their timing. This is clearly a part of the process of "Hinduization," by which non-Hindu tribal peoples are absorbed into Hindu society. It lends a degree of legitimacy to tribal celebrations by giving them a "Hindu" form.

One festival that is not of Hindu origin is the Gurung New Year, or losar. This is really the Tibetan New Year, but it is observed in late December or early January on a date different from the Tibetan and Sherpa festival. The Hindu Saraswati Pűjā, which falls in early February, marks the beginning of the dance called ghāntu, which is unique to the Gurungs and the neighboring Magar tribe. Ghāntu, which has both religious and social aspects, continues to be performed until the full moon that occurs in late April or early May, which marks the Baisakh Purnima festival. Jātrās, or fairs, are occasions on which Gurungs meet to socialize, and the sexes mingle with a considerable degree of freedom. The events usually last all night and are accompanied by dancing, singing, and the drinking of copious amounts of liquor.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Numerous rituals mark birth and childhood in the Gurung community. Brahman astrologers are consulted before the child is named at the nahurān (bathing) ceremony. Held on the 9th day after birth (7 for a girl-child), the nahurān involves the ritual purification of the mother and announcing of the baby's name. The rice-feeding (pasnī) ceremony, when the baby begins to be fed solid food, is held 5 to 6 months after birth. The ritual first cutting of the hair (Chhaewar) is performed when a Gurung boy is 5 or 6 years old. This is done by the boy's maternal uncle, with a lama or Brahman priest present. After this ceremony, the boy can take part in all religious and social activities of the tribe. All these ceremonies are accompanied by feasting and drinking.

Death is of great symbolic significance among Gurungs, and the funeral ritual (Pai or Arghun) is the most important observed in Gurung society. Immediately after a death, a white banner is raised on the roof of the house to inform the community of the death. Before rigor mortis (stiffening of the muscles) sets in, the body is placed into a seated posture in a box or a copper vessel. Both lāmās and the animist priests are called on to perform various funeral rites. The klihbri sacrifices a goat so that a blood offering may be made to buy passage of the deceased to heaven. When the rites have been completed and family, relatives, and neighbors have paid their last respects to the deceased, the body is carried in procession to its last resting place. Corpses are disposed of by cremation, burial, or water burial. On their return journey, members of the funeral procession have to step over a fire burning in the road to prevent evil spirits from following them home.

The funeral ritual is completed by an elaborate, and expensive, ceremony held a year after the death occurred. Astrologers determine an auspicious time for the ceremony, which lasts for 3 days and 2 nights. During this time, numerous rituals in which both lāmās and shamans take part are performed for the deceased. Activities include singing and dancing, the chasing away of devils with weapons such as khukhrīs (curved Gurkha knives), and sacrifice of animals. An effigy (pla) of the deceased is made and dressed in clothes and ornaments. On the last day of the ceremony, the effigy is taken to the edge of the jungle, where the deceased is told that he or she should leave the living and depart to the land of his or her ancestors. The effigy is broken up and thrown away in the jungle. A purification ceremony and a feast mark the end of the funeral rites.

INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS

It is considered slightly odd by Gurungs to greet people by their proper names (even if they are known). When addressing someone who is not a relative, one calls them grandmother or grandfather, mother or father, sister or brother, depending on their age. A husband or wife is never referred to directly by name.

LIVING CONDITIONS

Gurungs live in villages of around 150 to 200 houses, sited high on ridges and hillsides. The entrance may be indicated by a string of flowers across the path. On the outskirts of the village, there are often temples or shrines to the local gods, with flowers or the remains of sacrifices in front of them. The village itself is a maze of narrow, twisting lanes, though a small shop or a tea-stall may provide gathering places for the inhabitants.

Gurung houses are quite small and may be round, oval, or rectangular in shape. They are built of stone, cemented and plastered with mud. The roofs may be thatched or made of slate. Gurung houses are commonly two-storied, with a veranda running along one side. The upper level is used for storage, while the downstairs room is used for living and sleeping. The walls are lined with shelves to hold pots, dishes, and other household utensils. There is little furniture, and one sits or squats on the floor. People sleep on hard wooden beds or on mats on the floor. Cooking is done over a wood fire in a pit sunk into the floor, with a tripod for hanging pots over it. Few houses have latrines, and villagers go the outskirts of the village to relieve themselves. Although many villages now have piped water, in the past carrying water to the house was a time-consuming household chore.

By Nepali standards, Gurungs are fairly well off. This is largely the result of money sent home by soldiers serving in the British and Indian Gurkha regiments. This extra income, along with military pensions, allows families to accumulate cash surpluses. Many Gurungs in this position migrate from their ancestral villages to towns such as Pokhara where they have access to urban amenities and better economic opportunities.

FAMILY LIFE

The division of Gurung society into the Chār Jāt and the Solah Jāt subtribes is explained in the Gurung myth of origin. The two groups are endogamous (i.e., they marry only within the group). The clans within each group are exogamous, marriage partners having to be sought from outside one's own clan. Cross-cousin marriages (i.e., with the father's sister's daughter or the mother's brother's daughter) are preferred, and among some Gurungs a fine is imposed if an available cross-cousin partner is not chosen.

Marriages among the Gurungs are usually arranged, although young men and women are given full opportunity to make their own choices. After a partner has been selected, friends or male relatives are sent to the girl's house with gifts and a bottle of liquor. These are accepted and the intermediaries entertained with food and drink if the girl's family agrees to the proposed match. If the girl's family does not agree, the visitors are turned away and the matter is closed. Once the arrangements for the marriage are complete and the astrologer is consulted over the time and date of the event, the bride is brought to the groom's house for a few days. A feast is given for relatives and the villagers. Within a few days, the bride returns to her parent's home. For the next several years, the couple visits each other in their respective parents' homes. It is only after the girl gives birth to a child that she moves into her husband's home permanently. At this time she receives a dowry from her family. This consists of copper and brass utensils, clothes, ornaments, and livestock.

Gurung family structure and size vary over time. A nuclear family expands as sons marry, bring their wives into the household, and have children. But, as their families grow, sons leave the household and build their own houses nearby. Inheritance is shared equally between sons.

Divorce is permitted in Gurung society and is quite common. There is no social stigma associated with divorce, and remarriage by divorcees and widows is readily accepted.

CLOTHING

Traditional dress of Gurung men consists of a blouse-type shirt (bhoto) fastened with ties across the front of the body and a kilt-like garment (jama) that wraps around the waist and reaches to mid-thigh. A long piece of cloth is tied around the waist like a belt (into which a khukhri may be slipped). The typical Nepali cap (topī) completes the dress. A sheep's-wool blanket is used in winter or in wet weather to keep the wearer warm and dry. Western-style clothes are commonly worn by the younger generation, especially young men who have served in the military.

Gurung women wear a cotton or velvet blouse (cholo) that ties at the front, over a long pleated skirt (phariyā) that is usually dark red in color. A sash is wrapped around the waist, and a head cloth completes the outfit. The ghalek is a cloth hung across from one shoulder to the opposite waist, forming a bag for carrying things. Ornaments include large, heavy, silver earrings that stretch the earlobes, nose rings, and square amulets hung on a string of glass beads called pote necklaces. Bangles and anklets are also worn. Many women are now wearing the sārī.

FOOD

Gurungs start their day by drinking sweetened tea. This may be as early as 4:00 or 5:00 am during the summer and around 6:00 am in the winter months. The morning meal is eaten between 9:00 and 10:00 am and consists of rice, or a dough made from millet or maize called pengo, with dāl (lentils) and vegetables. Although they may snack during the day, they will not eat again until evening, when another meal similar to the morning's is taken. In poorer households, the diet might consist of jand, a fermented liquid made from millet or maize, and vegetables.

Sheep are slaughtered and eaten at festival time, but meat is eaten infrequently by most people. Gurungs will not eat pork. The origin of this taboo is uncertain. Some higher-status clans, e.g., the Ghale, observe many high-caste Hindu food prohibitions and will not eat chicken, goat, or buffalo meat. Rice is considered a prestigious food, to be served to visitors and presented as offerings to the gods.

Tea is drunk throughout the day. Gurungs, both men and women, consume large quantities of beer (chāng) and liquor (raksi) made from maize, millet, or rice. Drinking is common at festivals, fairs, and social gatherings.

EDUCATION

Education has traditionally been seen by the Gurungs as the means to a desirable career in military service. Long before the Nepalese government assumed responsibility for education at the national level, the Gurung community provided strong support for village schools that prepared young men to join the Gurkhas. Once in the armed services, recruits were required to continue their education. As a consequence, literacy rates among Gurung men are among the highest in South Asia. Studies in Gurung villages place literacy rates at over 72% for the male population and even higher among servicemen and ex-servicemen. Women do not share in this advantage, however, with the corresponding value for females being only around 42.5%.

CULTURAL HERITAGE

Artistic expression among the Gurungs reaches its highest forms in music and folk dances. The Gurungs and the Magars of the Gandaki Zone of Nepal have a unique dance-drama called Ghāntu. The dancers are required to be virgin girls (the ghāntu), and they must abstain from eating garlic and drinking alcohol during the period of the dance. During the dance, they are believed to become possessed by the ancestor spirits. There are two forms of the dance. One can be staged at any time of the year, but the other (Satī Ghāntu) can be performed only between Saraswati Pűjā and Baisakh Purnima. Satī Ghāntu tells of various events in the lives of a legendary king and queen of Gorkha, of the death of the king, and of the satī (burning on the funeral pyre) and resurrection of the queen. When the last performance of the season is complete, the dancers and the audience go to a nearby shrine, usually that of the mother-goddess Chandi. There they offer the dance regalia to the goddess, along with the sacrifice of a chicken.

The Sorathī is another Gurung dance that reenacts an ancient Gurung legend. The story, set in verse, tells of a king who had seven wives but no children. When his youngest queen bore him a daughter, the other wives were filled with jealousy and cast the baby daughter into a river. The baby was rescued by a fisherman and brought up as his own daughter. The tale ends happily as the true identity of the young princess is revealed and she is reunited with her family.

WORK

The Gurungs have traditionally been peasant farmers, growing hardy crops in fields terraced into hillsides. Millet and maize form their staple cereals. Wheat, buckwheat, barley, and potatoes are also grown, as are pulses, string beans, and other vegetables. Rice is becoming more important in Gurung agriculture. In the higher elevations, sheep are reared for meat and wool. Every Gurung family has a few sheep, and villages employ shepherds to tend the village flocks. The shepherds, who use mastiffs as sheep dogs, migrate with the flocks to alpine pastures in the summer. They return to the villages in time to celebrate the Dasain festival. Every family slaughters a sheep at Dasain and holds a big feast. After Dasain, the sheep are taken down to the warmth of the lower valleys.

Gurungs who do not leave their villages to serve in the Gurkha regiments of Britain and India often engage in the trans-Himalayan trade that historically has been important in Nepal's economy. Salt, wool, and livestock from Tibet are exchanged for food grains and manufactured goods from India. The surplus of cash generated from overseas employment has led many Gurungs to leave their fields and villages to live in the local towns such as Pokhara. There, they invest in property, buy shops, and operate transport companies and other businesses.

SPORTS

Young children play variations of draughts, hopscotch, and marbles, using stones, nuts, berries, or whatever else is close at hand. They make swings, balls from animal's bladders or old cloth, and hoops to be rolled down the road, propelled by a stick. Older boys race each other and play team games such as soccer and basketball.

ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION

Gurungs living in towns have access to urban amenities such as the cinema, but in rural areas the population is restricted to traditional forms of entertainment and recreation. These include the festivities associated with religious celebrations and the formal dance dramas such as the Ghāntu. Jātrās are occasions for socializing and merrymaking. The singing of traditional love songs and duets between young men and women are popular at such gatherings, as is dancing and beer-drinking. Nepali "pop" songs heard on the radio are popular among teenagers.

The rodī is an interesting Gurung institution. It is more or less a social club for boys or girls. Unlike the permanent dormitory of Indian tribes such as the Oraons or the Maria Gonds of central India, 10 or 15 young people of the same sex gather under the supervision of an adult. They sleep at the adult's house and work and play as an informal unit through their teen years. Eventually the members marry, and the rodī dissolves. Not all children in a village join a rodī, and there may be more than one such group in the larger settlements.

FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES

Other than their traditions of music and dance, the Gurungs are not known for their folk arts and crafts. Items such as woven baskets and woolen blankets made by women, and bamboo goods fashioned by men, are essentially functional in design. Gurungs rely on local service castes for metal goods, carpentry, and tailoring.

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

Like many tribal societies in South Asia, the Gurungs are faced with social and economic changes that threaten their sense of community identity. Traditional Gurung society is rooted in the rhythms and rituals of a rural, agricultural society. Today, population pressure and environmental degradation is reflected in declining agricultural production and increasing poverty in rural areas. Even the tradition of service in foreign armies offers declining opportunities, as Britain is eliminating many of its Gurkha regiments. The relative affluence associated with military service and army pensions has resulted in the migration of Gurungs to towns and cities, where they lose much of their traditional culture. This process is hastened by the relatively high levels of education among Gurungs, who prefer the attractions of urban life over the village. Many Gurung children brought up in towns cannot even speak the Gurung language. As two writers put it, "What does it mean to be 'Gurung,' if one no longer practices Gurung agriculture, uses the language, or employs the Gurung priests?" (Macfarlane and Gurung 1990: 36). Whatever happens in the future, it will be many years before old men proudly sporting the crossed khukhri insignia of their Gurkha regiments disappear from the streets of towns and villages in west-central Nepal.

One feature of change, and a source of conflict among Gurungs, is the relative status of the Char Jat and the Sora Jat. The introduction of universal suffrage and the village panchayat system (local self-governing councils) has raised the aspiration of the formerly servile Sora Jat vis-à-vis the Char Jat.

GENDER ISSUES

Although some Gurung groups have adopted aspects of Hindu social values, Gurung women are much freer than their Hindu sisters. Even though marriages are arranged, they have a much greater say in marriage partners, virtually being able to choose their mate (even though cross-cousin marriage is preferred) and no stigma is attached to divorce, which is easy to obtain. Widows are allowed to remarry.

Substantial differences in gender roles exist among ethnic groups in Nepal. Gurung women are still expected to handle household chores and have little say over crop land, livestock and daily wages, but unlike in the Brahman/Chhetri and Tharu communities, Gurung women participate in community meetings and have participated in agricultural training scheme.

Literacy among Gurung women is 42.5% (almost 20 points lower than their Newar counterparts) and this limits their access to health care and inhibits upwards mobility. However, the need for literacy and self-help has been recognized and organizations such as the Nepal Gurung (Tamu) Women's Association (NGWA) (or the Nepal Gurung [Tamu] Mahila Sangh) have been established as independent, social and non-profit making organizations, to serve as a common meeting place for all Gurung women. Set up by the Gurung women themselves, the NGWA serves to promote the interests, welfare and rights of all Gurungs, and helps conserve and preserve the socio-cultural traditions, language and religion of the Gurung people.

The role of women in overall Gurung development cannot be understated. It first started when Gurung women established Ama Samuhas ("Mother's Groups") in the villages. The Ama Samuhas played important roles in bringing about social reforms and they have been successful in controlling and eradicating such social evils as gambling and alcohol drinking. They are also involved in the building of roads, schools, conducting literacy classes, sanitation, drinking water awareness programs, and building resting places. The concept of Ama Samuhas has now even spread to major cities such as Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Butwal Chitwan. Women's roles, initially limited to Ama Samuhas, have now taken a major step forward with the creation of the NGWA. Gurung men have been very supportive of the initiatives and endeavors of Gurung women to improve their literacy and socio-economic status.

Gurung women are aware that in terms of development, they lag far behind the rest of South Asia. Awareness of Gurung culture does not mean just wearing the Gurung dress or singing dohori songs (a genre of Nepali folk song). There remains the issue of improving literacy. Newari women in Nepal are far ahead in terms of education and business is dominated by Thakali women. It seems that the majority of Gurung women are contented and do not see any need to come out of their homes to seek any rights. Reasons may be that they are generally economically well taken care of by their husband's and other family members' overseas earnings or that they are simply unaware of the opportunities that they are being deprived of as they remain cocooned in their own homes. One of the main aims of the NGWA remains bringing Gurung women out of their homes and exposing them to society at large. It focuses on developing their intellectual capacity, encourages social interaction at a wider societal level, helps them become better educated, and helps to bring about a sense of self confidence. Being aware and informed will help Gurung women to guide their children properly in education, social norms and behavior.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Gautam, Rajesh, and Ashoke Thapa-Magar. "Gurungs." Tribal Ethnography of Nepal 1 (1994): 240–261, 1994.

Macfarlane, Alan, and Indrabahadur Gurung. Gurungs of Nepal: A Guide to the Gurungs. Kathmandu: Ratna Pustak Bhandar, 1990.

McHugh, Ernestine. Love and Honor in the Himalayas: Coming to Know Another Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001.

Messerschmidt, Donald. A. The Gurungs of Nepal. Warminster, England: Aris & Phillips, 1976.

Mumford, Stanley Royal. Himalayan Dialogue: Tibetan Lamas and Gurung Shamans in Nepal. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.

Regmī, Murārīprasāda. The Gurungs, Thunder of Himal: A Cross Cultural Study of a Nepalese Ethnic Group. Jaipur: Nirala Publications, 1990.

—by D. O. Lodrick