The Chepang are an indigenous
Tibeto-Burman ethnic group mainly
inhabiting the rugged ridges of the
range of central Nepal.
Total population 68,399
Regions with significant
Languages Chepang language
Religion Hinduism · Buddhism ·
Over the past two or three generations, the Chepang have begun to slowly shift from a semi-nomadic (slash-and-burn) lifestyle to a more settled way of life, relying increasingly upon the production of permanent fields of maize, millet and bananas. The severe topography, however, has made permanent farming difficult (and usually insufficient), and the forest has remained an important (although decreasingly so) source of food for the Chepang. Historically, the collection of wild yams and tubers, fish caught from nearby rivers, bats and wild birds, and periodically wild deer hunted from nearby forests, have supplemented their need for carpohydrates and protein. With increasing populations, lack of arable land and few irrigation options, malnutrition has been a historic problem for the Chepang despite forest supplements. The Chepang have often been characterized as the poorest of Nepal’s poor. Forced teenage pregnancies are common. Chepang men and women are basically egalitarian and no social ranking exists as it does in caste Nepalese society. Many Chepang cannot read and write due to a lack of education beyond elementary school, and this illiteracy stands in contrast to the great gains Nepal has been making in reducing illiteracy. According to the 2001 Nepal Census, there are 52,237 Chepang in the country, of which 67.63% were Hindu, 23.38% were Buddhists, 7.74% were Christians, and 1.25% others. They are mostly located in Dhading District,Chitwan District, gorkha District, Makwanpur district, and Tanahu District.