Chhantyal in Nepal

Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2023
International Mission Board-SBC - Robert Steed  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Chhantyal
Country: Nepal
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 14,000
World Population: 14,000
Primary Language: Nepali
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 2.57 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Hindu - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The origin of the Chhantyal people is described as a "mystery" in an article called Mentavolution. They are considered an indigenous people of Nepal by the Nepali government.

Although some anthropological research has been able to incorporate the Chhantyals, their origin is still a mystery. Although Chhantyals look 'Mongoloid' and speak Tibeto-Burman language, some believe that they are of Indo-European origins. According to some anthropologists the Chhantyals came to the Himalayas of Nepal from Tibet about 1500 years ago. In the past Chhantyals (Chhanthyals) have been miners of copper and once spread from Far-Western Developmental Region to the Western Developmental Region of Nepal.
There are no proof of their origins just ample stories and folktales about it. There have been various official papers discovered indicating the existence of the Chhantyals in Myagdi since V.S. 1654 (1598 A.D.) Ancient coins, weapons, potteries and metric tools indicate that Chhantyals were socially sophisticated people.

Chhantyal indigenous peoples have their own mother tongue known as Chhantyal Kham, which belongs to Tibeto-Burman language family. The Chhantyals' language known as Chhantyal Kham which has no written alphabet and no written script. Chhantyal speak their mother tongue. The language does have published books. Therefore, one can find books, magazines and dictionaries using Devanagari Script. The Chhantyals' language is considered endangered and in the verge of extinction. Sadly, there are no other ways to find out about their past because they were nomadic.

Where Are they Located?

Most of the Chhantyal are living in the western part of Nepal especially in Baglung and Myagdi. Some of them are scattered in Kathmandu Valley, Gulmi, Rukuum Pokhara, Rupandehi, Kaski, Dang, Chitwa, and Mustang.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Chhantyals have been living among other villages with their own distinct languages, lifestyle and culture.

For centuries, they have been living alongside of slope of Dhaunlagiri Himalayan range all the way to Kaligandagi Valley, working in the mines, agriculture and raising animal. Their occupation is mining and they specialize in mine exploration and mining. Chhantyal women are skilled in weaving woolen carpets and woolen blankets.

Chhantyals were miner until the Nepal government raised taxes to an intolerable level. One interesting fact is they taste and smell to determine the soil for mining instead of using any sorts of tools. Some Chhantyal villages in Myagdi and Baglung still have a suffix-"khani" meaning 'mine' in Nepali. Although traditional miners, they did not have the ownership of the mines but they were mere workers. Chhantyals used to mine for seven months per year. There were a total of 44 mines in Baglung and Myagdi which were mined by the Chhantyals and Magars. Today, the Chhantyals major occupation are farming and foreign employment around the world.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Chhantyals believe in Shamanism, animalism, worship their ancestor's spirits, and a variety of nature spirits by sacrificing animals. Most adhere to some forms of Hinduism and celebrated Hindu's major festivals.

What Are Their Needs?

Most Chhantyal people are Hindu, but a large number of them would consider their traditional religion to be their very own. Such traditional religion gives a small people group a sense of identity, and they often feel threatened by outsiders who bring them a different religious system.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Holy Spirit to give the Chhantyal people teachable and understanding hearts.
Pray that a strong movement of the Holy Spirit will bring entire Chhantyal families into a rich experience of God's blessing.
Pray for Chhantyal families to be drawn by the Holy Spirit to seek forgiveness and to understand the adequacy of Christ's work on the cross.
Pray for teams of believers to do sustained, focused prayer for the Lord to open the hearts of Chhantyal family leaders to experience God's blessing through a movement of family-based discovery Bible studies.

Text Source:   Keith Carey