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Himalayan Tribes

The Himalayas have been marked by much migration and are a mix of Negroid, Mongoloid and Aryan races. The Kashmiris of the North-West, a blend of many races are fair-complexioned, with light brown hair, blue or grey eyes and fine physique. They are warm, friendly, and hospitable and are non-aggressive.

People of the Kashmir valley are almost entirely Muslim, but Jammu has a large population of Hindus. Kashmiris are known for their craftsmanship. They make intricate and beautiful papier-mâché, wood, silver and gold articles in traditional designs. Their embroidery and exquisite shawls, carpets and rugs have a global repute.

According to folklore and archaeological evidence Ladakh was totally populated by Darads in the past but is now populated largely by Mons of Mongoloid stocks, who have migrated to this region. They are almost entirely Buddhist. The people of the central Himalayan regions of Kumaon and Garhwal, as distinct from the Ladakhis have descended from the Khasas, a Central Asian nomadic tribe who entered from the North-West and have spread through the entire Himalayan region, from Kashmir to the North-East. Most people of Himachal Pradesh are also of Khasa ancestry and are known as Kanets.

The Nepalese are a mix of different races. Thakurs and Chetris are Hindus who speak Nepali. Gurungs, Tamangs, Rais and Limbus are part Mongoloid tribal groups of hill farmers, many of whom are still serving in Gurkha regiments of the Indian and British armies. Sherpas are among the many Bhutiya groups who speak a Tibetan dialect.

Sikkim has three different ethnic groups, the Lepchas, the Nepalis and the Bhutiyas. Though Lepchas were the original inhabitants, they are a minority now. Almost all Sikkimese are Buddhists. The Bhutanese call themselves the Drukpa – inhabitants of Druk Yul (or the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’). They are Bhutiyas of Mongoloid origin and, along with people of Ladakh, Spiti valley and Nepal follow traditional Buddhism. They are faithful to their traditional culture in spite of the influx of tourists through newly built roads.

People of Arunachal Pradesh in India are of a mixture of Asiatic, Tibetan and Myanmar hill region origin. Adi of the central region are the largest tribe. Nissi, Sulung, Sherdukpen, Aka, Monpa, Apa Tani, and Miri inhabit the West, the Wancho, Nocte, and Tangsa inhabit the South-East and the Mishmi inhabit the North-Eastern hills. About 50 distinct languages and dialects are spoken in Arunachal. Each tribe follows its own social, cultural, and religious practices and there is little intermarriage. Animism with ritual sacrifice, Hinduism, Tibetan and Hinayana Buddhism are the religions practised in Arunachal.



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