A small country covering 147 000km², Nepal is located between India and China. The majority of its 27 million inhabitants are peasants and live on a subsistence economy.

  • The History of Rigaon

Throughout the villages of Rigaon, most of the inhabitants are Tamang. In the past, the Tamangs lived in Tibet. They were not yet called Tamang and practised the Bon Religion and Shamanism.

At that time (640 A.C.) King Sron Tsan Gampo of Tibet wanted to wed the beautiful Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti, the daughter of King Amshuvarma who initially refused. The discontented King of Tibet arrived with his army and cavalry known as the Tamak. Threatened, the King of Nepal approved the marriage and gave his daughter a statue of Buddha as a gift. This was when Buddhism was introduced to Tibet. The Bon religion and shamanism were practised less frequently and as it was no longer necessary to fight, the Tamaks decided to stay in Nepal. When a census of the population was carried out, they were referred to as Tamang; this is what is written in the history of Tibet and in the Kaiten (book) of the Tamangs.

In the past, this region was unpopulated and consisted only of forests. According to the legend, a man called Gomcha came to Tibet with his wife Uthak. In their language "Ri" means forest - this is how Rigaon came into existence. Later, several villages were built in the area and all these villages as a whole are called Rigaon Bicas Samiti.

  • Way of life

 

The women do some weaving - they also work in the fields and look after the house and children.

The men mainly do farming, woodwork, stonework and make bamboo baskets. Some join the army (British, Indian or Nepalese) whilst others work for trekking agencies or go abroad (Gulf countries and now South Korea and Malaysia).

 

 

 

  • Resources

- Crops

  • Only 40% of the land is suitable for cultivation. This is due to the steep slopes, the infertile soil and poor exposure.
  • 70% of the villagers are farmers.
  • 1/3 of the land is used for rice. With progress, the villagers can grow a small amount of rice at a higher altitude by using fertiliser.
  • 1/6 of e the land is used to grow vegetables: turnips, peas, spinach, onions, garlic, ginger, soya, lentils and mustard.

 

 

Potatoes, corn, wheat, barley and millet are also grown. Bananas can also be found and in small quantities: oranges, apples and nashupati. Damage to the harvest is frequent; due to hail and the large number of landslides, as well as wild animals.

 

 

 

 

 

- Cattle is generally placed in the care of the elder parents. Each household owns just a few animals: cows, goats, buffalo used for milk and meat, as well as for ploughing. Poultry, in small quantities, is farmed for eggs and meat, but many losses are caused by disease and predators. The Ankhu Khola River, which is well-stocked with fish, provides a little extra to the staple diet.

 

 

 

All these products are barely enough to feed the family. Therefore it is out of the question to use them for trade – just a few swaps between villagers.

In short, the only ways of bringing a little money into the home are: by selling bamboo baskets and braids, medicinal plants, trekking, salaries or pensions paid by the army. Another source of income: the salary earned by young Nepalis abroad.

- Wild animals show no hesitation in leaving the forest area to approach the villages, even houses, as is the case with the jackal and the panther, attracted by the young cattle often kept close to the homes. Monkeys and boar often come out of the woods, causing serious damage to the crops. Many bears are found here as well as some deer.

- Forest

In addition to rhododendrons, three or four other species are found here such as sal (Shorea robusta, Dipterocarpaceae), chiloni (Schima wallichii, Theaceae), utis and mallow (Bauhinia, Caesalpinioideae) as well as the bamboo of course. The forest also provides the plants the shamans need to treat people.