Limbu in Nepal






Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

The Limbu are one of the largest tribal groups in Nepal. They are a sub-group of the Kirant people. The Limbu live mainly in eastern Nepal between the Arun River and the border of the Sikkim district in India. They speak a dialect of Kirant, which is a Tibeto Burman language.

The origin of the Limbu is uncertain, but they are clearly of Mongolian descent. In the later part of the 1700's, Nepal was formed by uniting various ethnic groups and principalities under a high caste Hindu dynasty. This conquest resulted in ethnic and cultural splits with the Limbu.

The Limbu are known as des limbu (ten Limbu), even though there are actually thirteen Limbu sub-groups. Legend says that five of the groups came from Banaras, India and the other eight from Lhasa, Tibet. There is no social discrimination among the Limbu sub-groups, although there are a number of different clans and sects.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Agriculture is the main source of income for the Limbu. Rice and maize are their principal crops. Although the abundance of land has made cultivation of new acreage possible, productivity is greatly limited by insufficient technology. Excess crops are often traded for food that cannot be grown in the region or for necessary items.

The men generally plow the fields and the women plant the seeds. However, at harvest time, both men and women work together to bring in the crops. Extended families often unite to help each other during harvest time.

Economic hardship among the Limbu has made it worthwhile for many of the men to join the army, both in Nepal and in India. This brings them a degree of respect, especially those who have earned a high rank.

In the past, marriages were arranged by the families. Neither the bride nor the groom had much say about the marriage payments or ceremonies. Modern times have changed this; today, both parties have an opportunity to make decisions about the wedding. There are three types of legal marriages: adultery, arrangement, and abduction. In the case of adultery, a compensation must be paid to the previous husband.

Women are quite influential within the Limbu families, especially if the husbands are in the military and stay away for long periods of time. However, a woman is not fully recognized until she bears her first child.

Drinking and dancing are very important to the Limbu. Weddings, mourning, gift exchanges, and settlements of conflicts all involve much consumption of liquor. Dances are held if visitors come to the village. These affairs give the young people a chance to meet and enjoy dancing and drinking.

The Limbu society is patrilineal, which means that the line of descent is traced through the males. Related families make up clans. When a clan member dies, the entire group is considered "polluted." They then must all go through a period of re-purification.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Limbu are predominantly Buddhists, but participate in many popular Hindu festivals. They also have a number of worship practices that involve blood sacrifices. They believe that when a woman marries, she inherits her mother's gods. The woman and her husband then recognize the deities as their household gods.

What Are Their Needs?

The immigration of high caste Hindus-mostly Brahmins-into the region occupied by the Limbu resulted in the Limbu losing most of their land. They were only allowed to keep the land that they were living on and cultivating. The Brahmins had an advantage over the Limbu in that they could read and write, were skilled, and had resources that the Limbu lacked. In the eyes of the Limbu, the Brahmins were "ungrateful servants" who stole their land. This has led to deep resentment between the groups. The Limbu's struggle for land is an ongoing process that continues to affect the social and political conditions of the region.

Prayer Points

* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Nepal and share Christ with the Limbu.
* Pray that the doors of Nepal will soon open to missionaries.
* Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Limbu Christians.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Limbu toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Limbu.

Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

People Name General Limbu
People Name in Country Limbu
Population in Nepal 382,000
World Population 568,000
Countries 3
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Black Mountain, Chaang, Chang, Monpa, Ole Monpa, Olekha, Tsono, Yakthumba
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster South Himalaya
People Name General Limbu
Ethnic Code MSY50k
People ID 13065
Country Nepal
Region South Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Limbuwan area, Eastern hills. Koshi Zone and Mechi Zone..   Source:
Total States on file:  14  (up to 20 largest shown)
Mechi (229,000) Kosi (130,000) Bagmati (17,000) Sagarmatha (1,400)
Narayani (1,300) Gandaki (900) Janakpur (500) Seti (500)
Lumbini (500) Bheri (300) Mahakali (200) Dhawalagiri (100)
Rapti (100) Karnali (30)
Total States on file:  14  (up to 20 largest shown)
Mechi (229,000) Kosi (130,000)
Bagmati (17,000) Sagarmatha (1,400)
Narayani (1,300) Gandaki (900)
Janakpur (500) Seti (500)
Lumbini (500) Bheri (300)
Mahakali (200) Dhawalagiri (100)
Rapti (100) Karnali (30)
Languages & Dialects on file:  11  (up to 20 largest shown)
Limbu (344,000) Nepali (38,000) Bantawa (2,400) Chamling (800)
Tseku (80) Walungge (60) Rawat (40) Saam (20)
Newar: Newari Bhojpuri Tamang, Eastern
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Limbu 344,000 Nepali 38,000
Bantawa 2,400 Chamling 800
Tseku 80 Walungge 60
Rawat 40 Saam 20
Newar: Newari Bhojpuri
Tamang, Eastern
For Primary Language: Limbu

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1996-2003)
New Testament Yes   (2009)
Complete Bible No
Audio Bible Online
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Bible: Yesu khristarÉ› kunisaam Text / Printed Matter
Jesus Film: view in Limbu Film / Video
Limbu Literature Association Text / Printed Matter
Online Bible text (Scripture Earth) Text / Printed Matter
Online New Testament (FCBH) Audio Recordings
Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project) Audio Recordings
Virtual Storehouse, New Testament Text / Printed Matter
Primary Religion: Other / Small
Religion Subdivision: Kirat

Major Religion Percent
4.11 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
2.54 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
11.46 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
81.89 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Anonymous  
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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