Also tied up with the importance of the chiuri tree is the revival of the Nwagi festival that has been in decline since so many Chepang have converted to Christianity.
Restoring chiuri has also made locals realise the significance of traditional food items like githa, bhyakur, and tarul that are also a part of Chepang identity. There is a need to remove the association of those foods with poverty and ‘backwardness’.
The revival of Chepang culture, tradition, language and local products has gone hand-in-hand with initiatives to start homestays that will offer a unique experience to tourists and generate income.
“Chiuri conservation has had a cascading impact here. The younger generation is now better-informed and identifies with our culture and tradition,” says Kamana Praja, 22, a social mobiliser in Raksirang.
“This has motivated us to conduct informal traditional classes where we have students ranging from 2-20 years,” she adds.
News about The Chiuri Boys of Rasksirang has now spread to surrounding districts. Aryan Praja and his team are being invited to villages in Chitwan and Gorkha to launch similar activities to revive the Chepang ties with the land.
Says Aryan Praja: “Some people still don’t understand why we are prioritising chiuri and do not heed our request. Change takes time but every day we are gaining new believers, making our efforts worthwhile.”
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