Background of Jirel Community
Jirel Community is a branch of the Kirat caste that has been living in Jiri VDC of Dolakha district and its adjoining VDCs since time immemorial. The origin of this community, which has its own language, customs and culture, has been considered as Jiri VDC of Dolakha district. In ancient times, while the Kiratis were migrating to the eastern hills of Nepal, the descendants of Myla Surasingh, one of the five nephews and sons of Sundarbir, came and settled in the area including the present Jiri, while some brothers moved to Suri VDC in the present Dolakha district.
Later, the descendants of these Kiratis came to be known as Jirel by the name of a special place. They are known as Jirel caste. Thus the Jirel race is believed to have originated.
Being a Kirati caste, there are still places called Kirati Khasa (house building) and Kirati Thursa (grave) in Jiri VDC. There are also arrows, bows and shields used by the Kirats at that time. On the other hand, in Kirat Dharma (nature worship), the Jirel caste has been worshiping nature like air, fire and earth. These customs have been worshiped by the Jirel people as their deities under the names of ‘Chen Chyotchya’, ‘Chyomu Chyotchya’, ‘Nangi Lha’, ‘Charmane’ and ‘Bhume’.
The Jirels live mainly in Jiri, Jungu, Kshetrapa, Bhankharka, Vyaku, Kaver and other VDCs of Dolakha district. Similarly, there are people living in Chokti, Karthali, Ghorthali, Barhabise, Bhuvanthali, Tangthali and other areas of Sindhupalchowk district. During the relocation, they have settled in Chitwan, Sindhuli, Makwanpur, Bara, Parsa and other districts. They also live in Darjeeling, Sikkim, Kolkata, Bhutan, Maldives and other countries of India.
Language, rites and customs of Jirel Community
Jirels have their own language, customs, traditions, culture. The language spoken by Jirel is called ‘Jirel language’. This language belongs to the Bhote-Burmese language family. About 95 percent of the Jirels in Dolakha district speak Jirel language. In other districts, the language is being forgotten by later generations. They do not have their own script.
In the past, the Jirel priests used the Phombo priest to perform religious ceremonies. Although the Jirels have a tradition of worshiping the deity according to the Kirat religion, they have been celebrating Hindu festivals with the same faith. Nowadays, the Jirels have been performing rituals of birth, marriage and death according to Buddhism. The Jirels are surrounded by lamas at the death rites.
At the end of Ghewa, it is customary to call the soul of the deceased to the body of a relative and talk. Which is called ‘sensing’. It is customary for the deceased’s soul to ask for a transaction when sensing occurs and to do so in the future. And, finally, you have to ask for leave.Although Jirels worship Dashain, Tihar and Satyanarayana according to Hinduism, they perform birth, marriage and death rituals according to Buddhism.
That is, both Lama and Jirel use the priest Phombo. Jirels celebrate nature worship, Buddha Purnima, Sakadka, Dashain, Tihar, Maghe Sankranti, Saune Sankranti etc. Similarly, they worship Bajyu, worship Aitavare, worship the deity “Chen”, worship Nangi Lha, Bhume Puja, Cheramjo Puja, Hulsa Puja, Chyomu Puchane and Charmane Puja. Under Kirat Dharma, it is customary to eat only by offering fire, air and earth before eating new food.
Poldak eating is a special practice only in the Jirel caste. Poldak is made by rubbing wheat germ (sweet) husk with roasted wheat flour. Especially when planting millet, it is customary to give poldak to the farmer as a meal. When making poldak, a loaf is made by adding one mana of flour per person. It is eaten with Poldak Chyang or any pickle or Babri (fragrant herb, mint), chilli, pickled salt. In the end, it is customary to make a small piece for the person who likes Poldak’s ball or to have fun. There is also an example in the Jirel society of having love and settling down at home while having fun by hitting like this.
The Jirel people have their own costumes and jewelry. The men tie a belt around the head, fill it with khukuri and cover it. The women wear colorful chaubandhi cholo and fariya and cover it with gamsa (back). Charanni, Athanni, Company Mala, Nandika Bala, Dhungri, Bulaki etc. are the ornaments worn by Jirel women.
The main occupation of the Jirels is agriculture. Many Jirels depend on agriculture for their livelihood. They raise cows, goats, buffaloes and cultivate food grains like maize, millet and paddy. At present, some Jirels are in business and government service. Jirels go to Kathmandu and cities like Sikkim, Gangtok and Darjeeling in India to work. Jirels, who prefer to live together socially, live in a joint family. Today, however, some married couples are separated from their families.