Who is Chhantyal?
Chhantyal is one of the 59 indigenous peoples recognized by the government. They are largely concentrated in the western Nepal namely Myagdi and Baglung districts and recently spread in different parts of the country. They have as many as 12- clans, Bhalanja (Valanja), Budhathoki, Dandamare, Gharabja, Gharti, Ghyapchan, Jhingraja, Khadka, Potlange, Purane, Tathapja and Singe Chhantyal. For centuries, they have been living alongside of slope of Dhaunlagiri Himalayan range all the way to Kaligandagi valley, working in the mines, opting agriculture and animal husbandry. Chhantyal have their own distinct culture, tradition, rituals, language, religion and lifestyle. Chhantyals follow Buddhist religion and animism. They believe on Shaminism. They worship on gods and goddesses including Barah, Kuldewata, Simebhume, Mandali and so forth, by offering them sacrificing chickens. Their occupation is mining and they specialize in mine exploration and mining. Chhantyal women are skilled in weaving woolen carpets, woolen blankets, Bhangro to name a few. According to the latest national Census 2011, their population is 11,810.
A brief linguistic history of Chhatyal language
Chhantyal indigenous peoples have their own mother tongue known as Chhantyal Kham, which belongs to Tibeto-Burman language family. They have no written script. According to the latest national Census 2011, of the total 11,810, as many as 4,283 Chhantyal speak their mother tongue. The language does not consist of different script for publishing books. Therefore, books related to language, magazines and dictionaries are found using Devanagari Script. A number of books, literatures including dictionary on Chhantyal language have been published. Lately, Nepal Foundation of Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN), the only government body looking after indigenous peoples’ issues, Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies (CNAS) and Central Department of Linguistics in TU has jointly worked for documentation of Chhantyal language. Nevertheless, this is not published yet.
Though they are settled in different parts of the country but they do not speak their mother tongue. The migrated people to Beni, Pokhara, Dang, Kathmandu, Rupandehi etc. from Myagdi are found to speaking mother tongue in few numbers. However, the linguistic group of people reside the villages in the north-west of Myagdi district of Nepal which is regarded a place of Chhantyals' origin. According to the use of language, Mangalekhani, Gyasikharka, Dwadi-Dhanr, Chhaurkhani, Kuinekhani, Malkabang, Malampar, Thadadakhani, Gurjakhani etc. of Myagdi district are the major places as the settlement of Chhantyal language speakers.
Couple of books and magazines, newspapers including dictionary have been published in mother tongue using Devanagari Script. Nepal Chhantyal Association (NCA) has also published a few numbers of books collecting some words of knowledge and grammar pattern. Similarly, Nepal Foundation of Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN), Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies (CNAS) and Central Department of Linguistics in TU has jointly worked for documentation of Chhantyal language. Chhantyal language is in endangered and in the verge of extinction.
Countries Chhantyal Kham language speaking
Nepal, UK, (Esp. British Gorkha Army-family) and migrant workers in different countries