Yakthung Paan Hu Asi (Learn Limbu Language) – Kinship Terms

Greetings is very important in every culture and society. When you visit new place & people, first thing you learn there is to greet in their language. In Limbu culture, greeting is very important as in other culture. There are various ways to greet kinsmen depending upon the relationship. But the basic way of greeting is saying “Sewaro” and folding two hands.

Like in other South Asian culture, if you greet someone adding kinship relation then it will make you near to that person. It also shows that you respect him/her. If you are stranger to him/her you can look at the age of the person and use appropriate kinship term. If you are Limbu then you have to be more careful in using the kinship term. You can greet the person and ask him/her what his/her clan name by giving yours. People with same clan name is considered brothers/sisters (with some exceptions). There are clans who have same ancestral history or same lineage or Mingsra (in Limbu) are also considered brothers/sisters. In those clans you cannot marry. For e.g. Menyangbo, Usuk, Khimding, Phaklesa and few others belong to Thindolung Khoyahang mingsra and hence they cannot enter-marry. In this case, looking at your lineage you decide your kinship relation. Another point you should not forget is about your mother, grand-mother and great-grand-mother’s clan. It is also prohibited to marry inside your mother, grand-mother and great-grand-mother’s natal family.

kinshipTermIn Limbu community, it is not common to call somebody Tengba (male friend) and Tengma (female) instead they like to call Somit (soaltee/soaltini in Nepali i.e. sister/borther-in-law’s brother/sister). If you respect the person like your cousin then you can use the term Lunga. Lunga could be a male or female and elder or younger. You have to use respectable verb while talking with Lunga.

This is very important to understand the difference between Lunga and Somit. They carry very different values. These days, I have seen people using Somit as synonymous to Lunga. When you address someone Lunga, you have to be very humble and you are not allowed to flirt with him/her. But somit is a relationship in which you can flirt, so, it is also known as joking relationship. This is the relationship that is good for going into marriage. This is also a relationship where girls/women and boys/men are allowed to do Ya-lang (commonly known as Dhan Nach in Nepali). Ya-lang is a courtship dance where girls and boys sing and dance in circle by holding hands.

So, this is the basic of using kinship term. If you use kinship terms (given in the photo) carefully in Limbu community, you will get all the respect and love you needed.


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