Monday, June 27, 2022


The Lepchas 

The central zone, the lands of the Lepchas, roughly covers the area from the junction of the river Teesta and the Lachung river to the junction of the Teesta and the Dikehee rivers.

The Rong-pas, who are known as the Lepchas are the original inhabitants of Sikkim. Earlier it was believed that, the tribe was a very ancient colony from southern Tibet. Their physical characteristics showed them to be a member of the Mongolian race. But later, it was supposed that they had come from the east, from the direction of Assam and Burma. The Lepchas are markedly Mongolian  in  features and differ from the Tibetans. It is also said that the Lepchas have similarity with the tribes of Hangarang in the North West Frontier Province and with the mountain tribes of  the Laree area in Ladakh. Others content that the Lepchas and the Khasias of Khasias of Khasi -Jaintai area are two different branches of the same ethnic group. Though, at one time, the Lepchas had blood relation only with the Limbus at present no restriction  is maintained  in establishing  matrimonial  relations with other tribes. The Lepchas have no caste distinction, but they believe that they belong to either of the five classes of Syang-Den, Mu, Ling-SingMu, Himu, Karthak Mu and Thikung Syalang. There are certain other classes based on the places of residence. 

Polyandry was prevalent among the Lepchas in the past. Marriage of wards is normally negotiated by the parents and after fulfilling certain condition, the marriage is publicly celebrated with much feasting. The Lepchas are primarily animists.

They acknowledge the existence of god and the bad spirits and do a lot to appease the bad one. Every class has a priest doctor, who is in fact an exorcist. The priest doctors may be either male or female. The male one is called bon and the female one is called generally monn. The Lepchas have their own language  which according to Mainwaring is the oldest of all the hill dialects. It is contended that the language they speak is of the Tibeto-Burmese family.

The Lepchas are very intelligent, amiable and always cheerful. They are very modest, extremely hospitable  people. They love sports and games and are sociable. They are innocent and good humoured. They are peace-loving people who avoid quarrels.