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Chapter Summary

Dhimal is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by about 20,000 people of the same name in the lowland districts of Jhāpā and Moraṅ in southeastern Nepal. Dhimal can be divided into two mutually intelligible dialects separated geographically by the Kankāī or Kankāī Māī river. Linguistically, Dhimal is related, though mututally unintelligible, to the Rai, Limbu, Newar and other Tibeto-Burman languages spoken in the hills of Nepal. Culturally and linguistically, Dhimals have been more heavily influenced by and feel more akin to neighbouring lowland indigenous groups such as the Northern Bengali-speaking Rajbangsi to the east and the Dehati Maithili-speaking Tharu to the west. The supernatural world of the Dhimal abounds with deities or dir, including a household deity or sali beraŋ and various clan and village deities. Since the advent of democracy in 1990, Dhimals have joined the struggle for linguistic and cultural equality along with other indigenous groups of Nepal.

Keywords: cultural preservation; Dhimal; linguistic preservation; material culture; southeastern Nepal; Tibeto-Burman languages



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