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People



Bhutias 

Buddhist monkThe Bhutias, who are all Buddhists, are quite distinct from the Lepchas. The Tibetan Bhutias entered Sikkim by way of Bhutan and settled in higher altitudes after driving the original inhabitants, the Lepchas into forests and lower valleys. They converted the indigenous Lepcha people to their religious faith, established matrimonial relations with them and thereby paved the way for cultural and social assimilation of the two races. This gave rise to a new race.

The matrimonial relation between the Tibetan nobles and Lepcha chiefs or Jongpons gave rise to a new affluent class of Kazis. The Sherpas are considered to have descen
 
ded from the Bhutia-Lepcha cross stock. The Bhutias are mostly traders and Herdsman. But many of them are accustomed to cultivation now-a-days. The Bhutias are more assertive and industrious than the Lepchas. They are not fond of isolation as the Lecphas.

The Bhutia social structure is patriarchal. The practice of polyandry was very common among them. But with the passage of time and spread of education this practice finds no favour with the young modern Bhutias now-a-days. Normally, the Bhutias live in a joint family. Polyandry served to prevent the family from being spilt up and the property from being divided. There is no caste distinction among the Bhutias. Bhutia women generally enjoy a great deal of independence and they are treated as equal; to men. Marriage is normally arranged and settled by the parents. In the affairs of marriage, maternal uncle and astrologer play an important role. Both man and woman can seek a divorce. If the matrimonial relation has to be served, the man or the wife would refer the case to  the village elders. At present the aggrieved parties go to the court of law also. Traditionally, the parties who apply for separation  has to pay a penalty and the actual expense incurred during marriage.


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