The Thami of Nepal
More than 90% of the people in Nepal are farmers; however, the land is undeveloped and the country, as a whole, is extremely poor. The Thami, in particular, scarcely manage to survive. They are hard working and extremely honest, but are often easily exploited by neighboring peoples.
The physical characteristics and overall customs of the Thami lead many to believe that they are of Mongolian descent. Their native language, Thami, is a Tibeto-Burman language. Thami is usually spoken at home, but Nepali is used in outside communication. They have no written script.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Their staple diet is fish and dhendo, a mush made of millet or maize flour. They often also consume a lot of alcohol and eat the meat of goats, foul, ducks, and cows. Still, many people suffer from malnutrition.
Most Thami women wear modern style saris (several yards of lightweight cloth draped so that one end forms a skirt and the other a shoulder covering). However, some still wear the traditional garments, somewhat similar to saris, called labaedis. These are made from plants that have been beaten and woven into fibers. They also wear large gold earrings and nose rings. Men usually wear daura surwals (black cloth garments made with wide waist bands), shirts and caps.
Marriage is considered a very sacred institution to the Thami. They believe in staying faithful to one partner until death. When a young man desires to marry, a "go between," called a lami, goes to the girl's house with three roti (loaves of bread) and two other people. If the lami is received, the bread is placed in front of the girl and her parents. If they accept the bread as a gift, talks proceed and the marriage is arranged. If the gift is not accepted, the lami hides the bag in the girl's house and reports the failure of the negotiations to the man. Customarily, the bread is never returned; however, the lami may continue to try to negotiate the marriage.
Three days after a child is born, the floor of the house is cleaned with a mixture of cow dung and water. Both the house and people are sprinkled with cow urine in order to purify them. The child's wrists, waist, and ankles are tied with threads wet with turmeric (yellow dye made from a plant grown in this region). The threads must go around seven times before being tied. The child is then given a name according to the day on which it was born. The child's maternal family then feasts on fish, lentils, meat, vegetables, and alcoholic beverages. A large rooster is also sacrificed for the celebration.
What Are Their Beliefs?
What Are Their Needs?
The Thami remain one of the most isolated peoples in the world, both geographically and spiritually. Currently, there are no known Thami believers. Prayer is the key to reaching them with the Gospel.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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